Early Netherlandish Painting: From Van Eyck to Bruegel

By Max J. Friedlænder | Go to book overview

JOOS VAN CLEVE

THERE are sound arguments to support the hypothesis that the Master of the Death of the Virgin is identical with Joos van Cleve. The personality was constructed entirely from stylistic criticism and has taken full shape. But from the name alone we can establish a few dates and with them the framework for a biography. Joos became master at Antwerp in 1511 and seems to have lived there until his death in 1540. Entries in the Antwerp lists for 1511, 1516, 1519, 1523, 1525, 1535, 1536 confirm his presence there; the long gap between 1525 and 1535 is striking, and the possibility that he was absent from Antwerp for a considerable time must be borne in mind.1 C. Justi, in his clear-sighted and comprehensive way, studied the arguments in favour of the identification, first put forward by Firmenich-Richartz, but he did not reach a satisfactory conclusion.2

The arms of the dukes of Cleve which appear on a dog collar in the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Kings in the Naples museum provide us with an important piece of evidence. Whether Joos was born at Cleves or belonged to a family that had been settled for generations in Antwerp is immaterial, and in any case the arms could indicate his origin or his name, always provided that it is not an allusion to the donor of the altarpiece, a possibility that Justi did not overlook.

Quite recently an exact and careful replica of the triptych has come to light in the Emden Collection (sale in Berlin, later the property of Mr. van Gelder, Uccle near Brussels3). And here the coat of arms on the dog collar has been duly copied. As it is improbable that both versions were done for the same patron we can with increased confidence link the coat of arms with the artist or the workshop. Moreover there is a second escutcheon in the Naples picture, a cross on light ground the lower part of which seems to terminate in an anchor.

Guicciardini relates that Joos van Cleve was such an excellent portraitist that he was called to Paris by the French king François I to paint portraits. His actual words are: Gios di Cleves cittadino d'Anversa rarissimo

____________________
1
The gap has been slightly narrowed down by the discovery that in 1528 Joos bought a house in Antwerp (cf. Friedländer, Die Altniederländische Malerei, IX, 1931, p. 23).
2
In Jahrbuch der preussichen Kunstsammlungen, XVI, pp. 13 ff.
3
Now in the Institute of Arts, Detroit.

-85-

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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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