oil on panel
h 172.5 cm × w 119 cm
oil on panel
h 172.5 cm × w 119 cm
The support consists of five vertically grained oak planks (25.4, 24.4, 24.5, 23.1 and 22.2 cm) and has been planed down to a thickness of approx. 0.4-0.8 cm for the addition of a cradle that was later partially removed. Dendrochronology has shown that planks I and II came from the same tree and that the youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1479. Planks III, IV and V also came from the same tree. The youngest heartwood ring of these planks was formed in 1481. The panel could have been ready for use by 1492, but a date in or after 1506 is more likely. There is a white chalk ground. There is an unpainted edge of 0.8-1.0 cm on all four sides and the remains of a barbe (painted surface: 170.5 x 117.7 cm). Infrared reflectography revealed part of an underdrawing in a dry medium, probably black chalk, indicating the contour lines and shading with hatchings. The paint layers were applied carefully, using reserves indicated in the underdrawing, and with highlights for the rather ornamental details. Numerous small changes were made to the contours and the townscape in the background fig. b, fig. c, fig. d.
Fair. The panel has a pronounced convex deformation and is rather fragile along the joins. There are discoloured fillings and retouchings along the joins, and the paint layer is somewhat abraded.
…; ? collection Hugh Robert Hughes (1827-1911), Kinmel Park, Clwyd, 1887;1 ...; ? dealer, Sekeyan, Paris, 1918;2 …; dealer, Reinier Willem Petrus de Vries, Amsterdam, c. 1920;3 …; sale, Achillio Chiesa (Milan), Milan, April 1928;4 …; from the dealer L. Bellini, Florence, to M. Ros, Zürich, 1933;5 his grandson;6 his sale, The British Rail Pension Fund et al., London (Sotheby’s), 5 July 1995, no. 24, £ 190,000, to the dealer Rob Smeets, Milan;7 from whom, fl. 1,500,000, to the museum, with support from the Vereniging Rembrandt, the Stichting Rijksmuseum, the VSBfonds and private donors, 1996; on loan to the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden, 2004-10
Object number: SK-A-4921
Credit line: Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt, with additional funding from the Prins Bernhard Fonds, the VSBfonds and the Rijksmuseum-Stichting
Copyright: Public domain
Pseudo Jan Wellens de Cock (active in Antwerp c. 1520-40)
Several Antwerp archives mention a ‘Jan de Cock, painter’, who according to Van den Branden is identical with Jan Wellens de Cock (Antwerp c. 1470 - Antwerp 1521) recorded in the magistrates’ rolls in 1492. In August 1502 he married Clara van Beeringen, and two of their children were probably the landscape painter Matthijs Cock (c. 1510-before 1548) and the engraver and print publisher Hieronymus Cock (1518-70). In 1502 he was also admitted as an ‘assistant’ to the Antwerp Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Lof fraternity, for which he repaired the brothers’ works of art in the cathedral and made woodcuts. The ledgers of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke record two pupils of his in 1507 and 1516, one ‘Loduwyck’ and Wouter Key, none of whose works is known today. De Cock was clearly a respected artist, for he and Joos van Cleve were deans of the Antwerp guild in 1520. It can be deduced from the archives that he died in 1521.
On the basis of stylistic similarities to paintings from the school of Cornelis Engebrechtsz, Friedländer suggested that Jan de Cock may have come from Leiden, and was the ‘Jan van Leyen’ who enrolled as a free master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1503. However, nothing further is known about this Jan van Leyen, so this identification with Jan de Cock is purely hypothetical.
Although there is not a single signed work by Jan Wellens de Cock known today, Friedländer gave him a few small panels with saints and religious subjects. Friedländer’s point of departure was an unsigned panel of St Christopher, (SK-A-1598, ![fig. c][fig. c]), for a later 17th-century print after it has the inscription ‘Pictum J. Kock’.8 One feature of the works that Friedländer grouped around it, including the small Crucifixion triptych in the Rijksmuseum (SK-A-1598), are the detailed landscape settings for the figures, many of them saints. The way in which the landscape is shaped by steep crags, and the graceful forms of the figures, correspond not only to the work of the Antwerp Mannerists but also to the Leiden paintings of the same period. As Gibson and others have demonstrated, the similarities to works by presumed pupils of Cornelis Engebrechtsz are striking. In addition, most of the attributed panels seem datable to the 1520s, which virtually demolishes Friedländer’s identification with Jan Wellens de Cock of Antwerp, who died in 1521.
Many of the works that Friedländer attributed to De Cock have therefore gradually been reassigned, by Beets, Hoogewerff and others, to a few of Engebrechtsz’s pupils, such as his sons Cornelis Cornelisz named Kunst (1493-1544) and Lucas Cornelisz named De Cock (1495-?), who are mentioned by Van Mander. Baldass, on the other hand, divided the attributions over two hands: the Master of the Vienna Dismissal of Hagar, and Jan de Cock. Gibson then attributed the works that Baldass had given to Jan de Cock to the Master of the Vienna Lamentation, and regarded both of these anonymous masters as pupils and assistants of Cornelis Engebrechtsz, possibly his sons. It is clear from this art-historical discussion that the paintings attributed to Jan de Cock over the years were in fact executed by different hands, but probably not by Jan de Cock himself. There is no certainty that they originated in either Antwerp or Leiden, and since none of those discussed in this catalogue, which were very probably made in Leiden, can be associated with the Antwerp painter Jan de Cock, they are here catalogued under the ad hoc name of Pseudo Jan Wellens de Cock.
Rombouts/Van Lerius I, 1864, pp. 58, 65, 87, 94; Van den Branden 1883, pp. 289-90; Thieme/Becker VII, 1912, p. 144; Baldass 1937; Friedländer XI, 1933, pp. 59-72; Beets 1936; Hoogewerff III, 1939, pp. 321-87; Gibson 1969a, pp. 161-200, 250-64; ENP XI, 1973, pp. 37-43; Filedt Kok in Amsterdam 1986a, p. 154; Riggs in Turner 1996, VII, p. 497; Romer in Saur XX, 1998, pp. 70-71; Van der Stock 1998, pp. 115, 119, 121, 207, 228, 258-59, 283; Born in Antwerp 2006, pp. 11-12; Yao-Fen You in Antwerp 2006, p. 224
This monumental painting contains seven scenes from the Passion spread over four levels. In the foreground are the soldiers dicing for Christ’s cloak (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:23; Luke 23:24; John 19:23-24), the mocking of Christ (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14: 65; Luke 22:63) and the flagellation (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:16; John 19:1). On the next level up there is a group of soldiers with the two thieves sentenced to be crucified with Christ (Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:32-33; John 19:18). In the centre is the swooning Virgin, who is being supported by John and one of her sisters. On the third level, Christ and one of the thieves are hanging on their crosses, while the third one is being hoisted into position (Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33; John 19:18). In the distant background is the carrying of the cross, just outside the gate to Jerusalem (Luke 23:26-31; John 19:17).
The placement of the scenes takes no account of the chronological order of the events as described in the gospels. As Van Os has written, the entire painting was probably designed to allow the viewer to experience the events on Mount Calvary for himself or herself (compassio), thereby following in Christ’s footsteps (imitatio Christi). Some of the events depicted are not mentioned in the Bible, such as the Virgin swooning, boring holes in the cross, the pole with a sponge drenched in sour wine which the high priest Annas is handing to a man, and Pilate mounted on a horse holding a rolled-up piece of paper on which he had written the letters ‘INRI’, which was later attached to the cross. Such additions to the story of the Crucifixion are also found in contemporary devotional writings, particularly those devoted to the Passion.9
The scene is based on a grisaille drawing of 1505 by Albrecht Dürer which has been in Florence since 1608 (fig. a),10 of which there are many copies and versions.11 The painting enlarges the drawing almost threefold, and translates it into colour.
The underdrawing in what appears to be a dry medium was probably made in two stages. Faint lines were first drawn to establish the positions of the various passages, and in the second stage they were gone over more heavily and a few adjustments were made. One example of this is the left back leg of the reclining dog in the foreground, which is lower down in the underdrawing (fig. b). The artist departed from the drawing here and there during the painting stage. Tall blades of grass by the dog were omitted, and the pointed clubs and pickaxes of the soldiers in the middleground were replaced by spears (fig. c), the initially faulty perspective of the ladder on the shoulders of one of the executioners was corrected, and the dog sitting to the right of the cross was moved and given a different pose. A comparison of the underdrawing (fig. d) with Dürer’s design, which is itself difficult to read, although the details can be seen in drawn and engraved copies, shows that the underdrawing follows it closely. The changes made in the paint layer are thus departures from the model. This points to the existence of a model with exactly the same scene and proportions as Dürer’s drawing, so evidently that drawing, or a very accurate copy of it, was in the workshop where this panel was made.12
The differences in quality between the various levels suggest that several hands contributed to this panel. It is possible that the work was divided, with the middleground being executed by a second, less capable painter than the one responsible for the background and foreground.13 One suspects that the latter artist painted the contemporary copy after the Rijksmuseum panel, which is the same size and is now in Geneva.14 There are at least three copies, probably of a later date, which follow this Calvary very precisely, and thus depart from Dürer’s drawing in the same way.15 In other words, the Amsterdam version, which enlarges and alters Dürer’s drawing, was the model for the known copies.
The Rijksmuseum panel displays characteristics that are typical of the late style of Cornelis Engebrechtsz and his workshop from the period 1520-30, such as the bright colours of the figures’ costumes and the loose way in which the background is painted with blue and green. Not very much is known about Engebrechtsz’s workshop, or about the apprentices he trained. As mentioned in the biography, it is likely that work by Engebrechtsz’s pupils can be found in a large number of paintings and drawings that Friedländer, Winkler and Wescher attributed to Jan de Cock, who was active in Antwerp and may have been born in Leiden. It was only Friedländer, in 1933, who was doubtful about whether to give this Calvary to Jan de Cock or Jan de Beer. Hoogewerff and Beets assigned it to Engebrechtsz’s workshop, specifically to his sons. However, it is only in some of the background figures that the painting is connected to that group of works, all of which are fairly small.
Given the differences in quality within the scene, it is likely that it is the work of several hands, probably in Engebrechtsz’s workshop. This monumental panel is thus another argument for placing the paintings that are attributed here to Pseudo Jan Wellens de Cock in the immediate vicinity of Cornelis Engebrechtsz and his Leiden workshop.
It is not inconceivable that this Calvary is identical with the painting described by Van Mander as Christ Carrying the Cross by Engebrechtsz’s son Cornelis Cornelisz named Kunst, ‘with the two murderers being led away, depicted with great expressiveness, and likewise Mary’s emotion at the suffering of her son, our Lord Jesus Christ’.16 Although there is no firm evidence for this identification, Van Mander does single out the two thieves and the Virgin's sorrow, which are depicted in the middleground of this painting. A swooning Virgin was rarely depicted in combination with a carrying of the cross in early Netherlandish painting.
Brugge 1902, no. 354 (as Dutch school); Friedländer 1903c, p. 161 (as Master of the Milan Adoration); Winkler 1924, p. 214 (as Jan de Cock); Wescher 1925, p. 15; Friedländer XI, 1933, p. 126, no. 107 (as Jan de Cock or Jan de Beer); Winkler II, 1937, p. 43, note 6; Hoogewerff III, 1939, pp. 338-39 (as workshop of Cornelis Engebrechtsz); Friedländer 1949, pp. 84-88 (as Jan de Cock); Beets 1952, pp. 15-17 (as Cornelis Cornelisz named Kunst); ENP XI, 1974, p. 78, no. 107 (as Jan de Cock); Filedt Kok 1996 (as Leiden school, c. 1520); Van Os 1996 (as Leiden school, c. 1520); Van Os in Van Os et al. 2000, pp. 124-25, no. 41 (as Leiden school, c. 1520)