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Two Horses in a Landscape

Two Horses in a Landscape

Hans Memling (in circa 1490)

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  • eszter karsay asked

    Why a monkey? What does it symbolize?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Eszter, Together with its pendant in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (depicting a woman in love) this panel is thought to be an allegory - a symbolic depiction - of love. Although the meaning of the horses and monkey can not be established with absolute certainty, it could very well be that the white horse with the monkey - monkeys being a symbol of evil or impudence - stands for the less reliable male lover, while the other horse - which looks up to the woman on the pendant painting - stands for the loyal lover. All the best, Daphne

  • Cleo Koerner asked

    This diptych shows an allegory of love. Is it erotic or not? What aspects of love does Hans Memling explore?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Cleo,
    The interpretations of this painting differ. The woman on the other half of this diptych is wearing a veil and holding a carnation. At the time these objects symbolized an engagment. Of the two horses depicted on the panel in Rotterdam the white one is mounted by a monkey. This might refer to the bad and the foul. The brown horse however, is looking loyally at the woman on the other panel. Therefore, possibly the white horse is symbolizing the bad, indifferent lover, whereas the brown horse is symbolizing the good, faithful lover.
    Kind regards,


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More information

This painting with a monkey seated astride a white horse has a rather mysterious subject. What we do know is that it is one half of a diptych. The other panel, in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, depicts a similar brick archway, beneath which a young woman is seen holding a flower, the symbol of true love. The panel in Rotterdam might therefore symbolise man’s conflicting relationship to love: the faithfulness of the horse and the lechery of the monkey.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Two Horses in a Landscape
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 16 cm
Height 43 cm
Artists Painter: Hans Memling
Accession number 2470 (OK)
Credits Acquired with the collection of D.G. Van Beuningen, 1958
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1958
Creation date in circa 1490
Collector Collector / D.G. van Beuningen
Internal exhibitions Van Eyck tot Bruegel (1994)
BABEL - Oude meesters terug uit Japan / Old Masters Back from Japan (2018)
External exhibitions Nederlandsche Kunst van de XVde en XVIde eeuw (1945)
Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – Bruegel’s ‘The Tower of Babel’ and Great 16th Century Masters (2017)
Geographical origin Germany > Western Europe > Europe
Geographical origin Southern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

All about the artist

Hans Memling

Seligenstadt circa 1435 - Brugge 1494

Hams Memling was most probably a pupil of Rogier van der Weyden. He spent the greater part of his life in Bruges. Since he was, in 1465, one of the greatest tax...

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