Early Netherlandish Painting: From Van Eyck to Bruegel

By Max J. Friedlænder | Go to book overview

GEERTGEN TOT SINT JANS

ALMOST all the early altar painting in Holland has been destroyed so that, as far as our limited knowledge goes, Geertgen tot Sint Jans becomes the representative of the fifteenth century. He worked at Haarlem, and does not seem to have left Holland but apparently was not entirely unaffected by the art of the Flemish towns. 1His very real originality must be regarded in the first place as a personal quality, then-- though with caution--as national Dutch. Though the discovery of the one work by Ouwater, the Raising of Lazarus ( Berlin) unfortunately bore no further fruits it has been possible from our master's accredited chief work--the pictures in Vienna that formed the front and back of an altarpiece wing clearly described by van Mander--to establish a con- siderable oeuvre for him and to gain a many-sided idea of his personality.

We have two Madonnas, one unusually large ( Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich Museum) one unusually small ( Milan, Ambrosiana), no less than three Adorations ( Amsterdam, Prague, Dutch private collection)2, the charming diptych in Brunswick,3 the Raising of Lazarus in the Louvre, the St. John in the Wilderness, Berlin, the symbolic representation of the Holy Kindred in Amsterdam, the problematic View of a Church in Haarlem--that gets us nowhere--the Man of Sorrows in Utrecht, the night scene of the Nativity in the v. Onnes Collection, Holland, 4 and finally a not fully accredited portrait, formerly in the Leuchtenberg Collection, St. Petersburg, 5 which represents the second wife of the Duke of Cleves. These thirteen works were done at approximately the same time. If van

____________________
1
Calling attention to the borrowings by Geertgen from the Monforte Adoration by Hugo van der Goes, Friedlander later did not exclude the possibility of Geertgen's stay in Ghent ( Die Altniederlandische Malerie, V, 1927, p. 18). If, as suggested by R.Koch (in The Art Bulletin XXXIII, 1951, p.259) the "Gheerkin de Hollandere" mentioned as an apprentice in the accounts of the Guild of St. John and St. Luke at Bruges in 1474-75 is identical with Geertgen tot Sint Jans, the latter must have spent at least part of his apprentice years in Flanders.
2
Now in the O. Reinhart Collection, Winterthur.
3
The Brunswick diptych is now generally excluded from Geertgen oeuvre. In a detailed study of Geertgen and his circle, Friedlander has given this diptych to a Geertgen follower, to whom he was also able to attribute several other paintings ( Die Altniederlandische Malerie, VI, 1927, pp. 51 ff.).
4
Now in the National Gallery, London.
5

Trésors d'Art en Russie, 1904.* Two important recent additions to Geertgen oeuvre published by Friedländer (in "Maandblad voor beeldende Kunsten", XXV, 1949, p. 187, and XXVI, 1950, p. 10) are the Virgin and Child in the Van Beuningen Collection, Vierhouten, and the Adoration of the Kings in the Cleveland museum.

-53-

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Early Netherlandish Painting: From Van Eyck to Bruegel
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents viii
  • The Geography of Netherlandish Art 1
  • Jan Van Eyck 6
  • Petrus Christus 14
  • Rogier Van Der Weyden 16
  • Dieric Bouts 26
  • Hugo Van Der Goes 32
  • Hans Memlinc 41
  • Gerard David 48
  • Geertgen Tot Sint Jans 53
  • Jerome Bosch 56
  • General Remarks on the Sixteenth Century 64
  • Quentin Massys 68
  • Joachim De Patenier 76
  • Joos Van Cleve 85
  • Jan Provost 91
  • Jan Gossaert 95
  • Jan Joest 105
  • Jan Mostaert 111
  • Lucas Van Leyden 119
  • Jan Van Scorel 126
  • Pieter Bruegel 133
  • Note on This Edition 415
  • Acknowledgements 417
  • List of Plates 419
  • Contents 422
  • Index of Places 423
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