Commissioned by D. Manuel I and executed in Antwerp by Quentin Metsys between 1514 and 1517 for the Convento de Santa Clara, this triptych still preserves its lateral wings. When the triptych is closed, the viewer would be faced with the ‘Annunciation’ – the first cycle of the life of Christ on earth – en grisaille, in tones of grey, pink and white. The interior portrays the scenes that bring that moment to its conclusion: in the centre is the ‘Crucifixion’, whilst the wings portray the humiliation inflicted by the Romans (‘The Flagellation’) and by the Jews (‘Ecce Homo’). The themes and dimensions of the figures and the position of the head and hands of the Virgin, preserved in a fragment, seem to permit a possible reconstitution of the ‘Crucifixion’

In 1931, the art historian, J. de Figueiredo recognised that the small oval frame portraying the ‘Grieving Virgin’, was a fragment of the central panel.

The rudimentary colours and brushstrokes of the retouching work, most obvious on the left wrist, show that the work referred to in writing on the back of the piece as being the ex-voto of the abbess, was no more than a re-use of part of the triptych which had been ruined in a disaster such as a flood or a fire. On the left wing, the disfigured faces of the torturers, common in works by Metsys from this period, recall the caricatures of Leonardo da Vinci, with whom he had had contact. On the right wing the foreground, depicting the Pharisees with Jesus just behind them in the second plane, create an effect of expressive intensity reinforced by the representation of Antwerp Cathedral on the left that frames the entire scene.

By observing this piece, we can understand why, in the 16th century, the Portuguese preferred the dramatic, yet equally beautiful Flemish painting, as related by Francisco de Hollanda.