oil on panel
support: h 29.5 cm × w 57 cm
d 6.5 cm
oil on panel
support: h 29.5 cm × w 57 cm
d 6.5 cm
The original support is a single horizontally grained panel, which has been planed down to approx. 0.2 cm and transferred onto chipboard. Dendrochronology has shown that the youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1484. The panel could have been ready for use by 1495, but a date in or after 1509 is more likely. The white ground was applied thinly up to the edges of the panel. An underdrawing could not be revealed with infrared reflectography. The paint was applied thinly. The composition was built up with areas of colour. Although the figures were not reserved but painted on top of the underlying paint layers, some larger rocks and houses were left in reserve.
Poor. The painting is abraded and there are many losses caused by wormholes and the transfer to chipboard. There is much discoloured overpainting and retouching. The varnish has yellowed somewhat.
…; the dealer N. Beets, Amsterdam;1… collection Dominicus Antonius Josephus Kessler (1855-1939) and Mrs A.C.M.H. Kessler-Hülsmann (1868-1947), Kapelle op den Bosch, near Mechelen;2 donated, with xx other objects, by Mrs A.C.M.H. Kessler-Hülsmann to the museum, 1940
Object number: SK-A-3336
Credit line: Gift of Mr and Mrs Kessler-Hülsmann, Kapelle op den Bosch
Copyright: Public domain
Joachim Patinir (? Bouvignes c. 1480/85 - Antwerp 1524), workshop of
The place and date of Joachim Patinir’s birth are not documented. Guicciardini and Vasari say that he was born in Bouvignes, while Lampsonius and Van Mander say that it was Dinant, on the opposite bank of the Meuse. The many occurrences of the name Patinir in Bouvignes compared to none in Dinant makes it likely that the former is the correct town. In addition, the Patinirs of Bouvignes had had ties to Antwerp since 1472, and it was there that Joachim Patinir settled as a painter. His birth date is placed between c. 1480 and 1485 on the evidence of his apparent age in a portrait by Cornelis Cort after a lost drawing of 1521 by Dürer.3
Nor is anything definite known about Patinir’s training. Weale believed that he studied with Gerard David, citing the stylistic similarities between their work and the fact that both of them enrolled in the guild ledger at the same time. A period of apprenticeship in ’s-Hertogenbosch or Brussels has also been suggested, and the possibility of an early career in Antwerp cannot be ruled out either.
What is certain is that Joachim Patinir registered as a free master with the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1515, but he may anyhow have worked in Antwerp as an assistant or journeyman painter prior to that. He married Francine, the daughter of the painter Jan Buyst, before the end of 1519. Patinir married for the second time on 5 May 1521, his new wife being Jehanne Noyts, who probably also belonged to the artistic community in Antwerp.
Patinir did not serve as an official of the painters’ guild, nor was he a member of other brotherhoods or guilds. It has never been demonstrated that there were family ties between Herri met de Bles and Joachim Patinir, as has often been suggested. In 1521, though, he did have an assistant whose name is not known, but may have been Karel Allaerts, one of the three painters who became the guardians of his two eldest daughters after his death in early June 1524. The other two guardians were Quinten Massijs and Jan Buyst, Patinir’s former father-in-law.
Patinir had a great reputation as a landscape painter during his own lifetime. Albrecht Dürer, who met him in Antwerp in 1520/21, called him ‘the good landscape painter’ in his diary, and ever since the Spanish humanist Felipe de Guevara hailed him as one of the three greatest Netherlandish artists in his Comentorios de la pintura of c. 1560 his reputation as the founder of landscape painting, and of the ‘world landscape’ in particular, has remained unassailed.
Twenty-nine panels are attributed to Patinir and his workshop in the most recent critical catalogue of 2007. Twelve stand out for the quality and finish, five of them also because they are signed, making them the autograph core of the oeuvre. The undoubted and signed paintings are the Landscape with the Baptism of Christ in Vienna, and the Landscape with the Temptation of St Antony in Madrid, on which Patinir collaborated with Quinten Massijs,4 both of which are late works.
In most of the large paintings one can assume on stylistic evidence that Patinir had the figures done by other artists. In the case of the Landscape with the Temptation of St Antony he worked so intensively with Quinten Massijs that the painting is signed by both of them. It seems that Patinir left the production of repetitions of his paintings, often in a smaller size, to his workshop assistants, who made them in series for the open market.
One of Patinir’s patrons is known by name, the Augsburg merchant Lucas Rem, for whom Patinir made four paintings, among them the autograph Landscape with the Assumption, which he probably delivered in 1517-18.5 The three other small panels for Rem are all of lesser quality and are probably workshop products.6
Vasari 1568, III, p. 858; Lampsonius 1572, pp. 38-39; Guicciardini 1576, p. 98; Van Mander 1604, fol. 219r-v; Guevara 1788, p. 3; Weale 1866, p. 342; Vollmer in Thieme/Becker XXVI, 1926, pp. 292-93; Friedländer IX, 1931, pp. 101-24; Koch 1968, pp. 5-7; ENP IXb, 1973, pp. 99-110, 120-24; Gibson 1989, pp. 3-16; Miedema III, 1996, pp. 84-90; De Visscher in Turner 1996, XXIV, pp. 259-62; Martens in Madrid 2007, pp. 47-59; Blasco and Martens in Madrid 2007, pp. 363-72
(L. Hendrikman/J.P. Filedt Kok)
St Antony Abbot is regarded as the founder of Christian monasticism, whose first biography was written a few years after his death. Attention again focused on him from the 14th century onwards in manuscript and printed editions of the Legenda aurea by Jacobus de Voragine.7 The long time he spent as a hermit in the desert, during which he faced many tests, was particularly popular in the visual arts. The temptation in this painting is taking place in a rocky landscape with a church surrounded by trees, a house and a stretch of water. The saint is walking towards the water with a pitcher and is being pecked on the leg by a bird as a second, crested bird looks on. Lying in the water is a small boat containing three figures, and in the foreground, half out of the water, is a fourth figure with a pitcher. On the right, seated in a cave illuminated by a fire, are three human figures and a fantastical one resembling a spider. Walking on the far right are two birdlike figures which should be interpreted as demons, and in the right background two figures are climbing a rocky, winding path. All of these elements derived from the biography in the Legenda aurea recur in Patinir’s painting of the same subject in Madrid.8
The paint is thin and was applied with short, narrow strokes and close attention to detail. The reflection of the riverbank in the water and the minuscule highlights in the vegetation give an idea of the care the artist lavished on the panel. By contrast, the vista on the left has remarkably little structure, and may have become badly abraded during earlier treatments.
The painting was donated to the Rijksmuseum in 1940, and in 1947 Friedländer published it in a list of twelve autograph works by Joachim Patinir.9 Later authors preferred to place it in Patinir’s circle.10 It did not even feature in the English edition of Friedländer’s Altniederländische Malerei, nor in Koch’s oeuvre catalogue of 1968 or the ‘Critical catalogue’ of 2007.
All the same, the painting does display a stylistic affinity to the oeuvre currently attributed to Patinir. In the first place, there are several striking similarities to the signed but undated Landscape with St Jerome (fig. a),11 which is generally regarded as an early work.12 The stage-like wings in the landscape in particular, the rock formations and the foliage, are very similar.
Given the early dendrochronological dating of the panel, which could have been ready for use by 1495, but more likely in or after 1509, the stylistic variety in the oeuvre attributed to Patinir and his workshop, and the correspondence to at least one signed Patinir, it is being too cautious to place the painting in his circle. The dendrochronology shows that it could have been made during Patinir’s lifetime, so it can equally well by attributed to his workshop.
(L. Hendrikman/J.P. Filedt Kok)
Friedländer 1947, p. 62; Castellim 1966, p. 27; Tóth-Ubbens in coll. cat. The Hague 1968, pp. 43-44, no. 894; Van Wegen 2005, pp. 114-15
1976, p. 436, no. A 3336 (as manner of Patinir)