Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Art and Art History


Catherine Levesque

Committee Members

Cristina Stancioiu

Monica Potkay


This thesis examines three cases studies from fifteenth century Netherlands: the Merode Altarpiece, Miraflores Altarpiece, and Portinari Altarpiece. It focuses on how the triptych format combined with the painted elements worked together to aid the viewer in communicating with the divine. These triptychs functioned as a prayer aid and helped the viewer to enter a meditative state, where they could engage with divine figures. Each artist was able to encourage this type of meditative state by underlining the separation between the temporal and divine world. The separation between the two worlds was further enhanced by the door-like nature of the triptych and other conventions of the Netherlandish triptych. However, despite these similarities, this thesis proposes that each artist created a triptych that engaged a different type of audience and functioned in a multiplicity of manners. Robert Campin painted the annunciation within a domestic setting in the Merode Altarpiece to encourage private devotion in the home. Rogier van der Weyden organized the Miraflores Altarpiece in a series of archways to aid Carthusian monks in completing the rosary. Finally, Hugo van Der Goes constructed the Portinari Altarpiece’s Nativity scene to encourage hospital employees, and comfort sick patients with the notion of salvation. In this way, each of these artists and their respective triptych, which combines physical framing and painted elements, manipulate these two qualities to serve the purposes of different audiences, functions and the artist's’ own interests.

On-Campus Access Only