oil on panel
h 77.5 cm × w 53.1 cm
oil on panel
h 77.5 cm × w 53.1 cm
Inscribed, top centre: O[mn]e fide deo (All trust in God)
Coat of arms, top left: divided horizontally, 1, two rows chequered silver and red alternately; 2, two gold bends, on which two silver citadels, with three black mallets overall parallel to the bends, on a red field
Inscribed, either side of the face: Betrowetet A... I . godt (Trust A… I. God)
Dated, on the frame: anno . dni 155 mru 85
The support consists of two vertically grained oak planks (26 and 27.1 cm), 0.6-0.9 cm thick. The painting is still in its original frame. Dendrochronology has shown that the youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1499. The panel could have been ready for use by 1510, but a date in or after 1524 is more likely. The white ground, visible along the edges of the paint layers, was applied when the panel was already in the frame. There is a barbe and an unpainted edge of approx. 1-1.2 cm on all sides (painted surface: 75.1 x 51.3 cm). Infrared reflectography did not reveal any underdrawing. The figure was reserved, but the clothes overlap the reserve here and there.
Fair. There is some heat damage and some raised paint, and the face is abraded. The varnish and the retouchings are discoloured.
The painting is mounted in a late-medieval stripped oak frame with a segmental arch at the top (fig. a). A cross-section of the profile of the vertical members shows a tenia, a reverse ogee, a reverse bevel, a scotia, a bevel and a jump at the sight edge (fig. b). The bottom member has a wide bevelled sight edge (fig. c). The frame has an open rebate and is constructed with stub mortise and tenon joints at the bottom (fig. d), and through mortise and tenon joints at the base of the arch (fig. e), all secured with dowels. Remaining traces of finish indicate that the mouldings were gilded on a black ground. The inscription on the tenia has not been removed and has white letters on a red background. Paint traces also suggest that the frame was painted over in black around the white text before it was stripped. Scribed carpenter’s marks are visible at the top of the vertical members on the back of the frame.
…; purchased by Victor de Stuers, fl. 350, for the museum, 18811
Object number: SK-A-743
Copyright: Public domain
Jan Jansz Mostaert (Haarlem c. 1474 - Haarlem 1552/53), circle of
Jan Jansz Mostaert was born in Haarlem around 1474 to the mill owner Jan Jansz Mostaert and his wife Alijt Dircxdr. He married Angnyese (Agnes) Martijnsdr, the widow of Claes Claesz Suycker, shortly before 8 June 1498. She died before July 1532. They came from fairly well-to-do families, and owned several houses in Haarlem. Jan Mostaert is documented in Haarlem almost every year from 1498 to 1516 and from 1526 to 1552. He died there between April 1552 and April 1553.
According to Van Mander, Mostaert trained with the Haarlem painter Jacob Jansz (who may have been the Master of the Brunswick Diptych). He was already being mentioned as a painter (‘scilder’) in 1498, and in 1502 he is recorded as a member of the local Guild of St Luke, of which he was dean in 1507 and 1543-44. Some pupils (‘leer-junck’) of his are recorded in the guild registers of 1502-07.
There are documented commissions for the wings of a tabernacle altarpiece in the St Bavokerk in Haarlem (1500-05), for the wings of an altarpiece in St Elizabeth’s Hospital (1550), and for the high altarpiece in the church in Hoorn (1549-50). None of those works has survived.
Although Jan Mostaert was appointed a ‘painctre aux honneurs’ in March 1518 by Margaret of Austria (1480-1530), regent of the Netherlands, and presented her with a painting of Philibert de Savoie in January 1521,2 there is no evidence that he was her court painter, so there is no reason to trust Van Mander’s statement that he worked at Margaret’s court in Mechelen for 18 years.
Van Mander also says that Mostaert was the portrait painter of the Dutch nobility, but unfortunately none of the paintings he describes can be securely identified with extant works. The Portrait of Abel van den Coulster in Brussels3 is similar to Van Mander’s description of a self-portrait by Mostaert.
As regards history paintings, the Christ Shown to the People in Moscow,4 which corresponds closely to another painting described by Van Mander, provides a yardstick for the attributions of a few memorial triptychs: the Alckemade Altarpiece with the Last Judgement for the Van Noortwijck family, which can be dated c. 1514, now in Bonn,5 the Altarpiece of the Deposition (the so-called Triptych of Oultremont) in Brussels, commissioned by Albrecht Adriaensz van Adrichem (c. 1470-1555), of c. 1520-25,6 and the pair of shutters of c. 1522-26 (also in Brussels) ordered by the same donor and his third wife.7 The Scene from the Conquest of America, described by Van Mander as unfinished and in the possession of Mostaert’s grandson Nicolaas Suycker, provides a reference point for his later work.8 The reconstruction of Mostaert’s oeuvre begun by Glück in 1896 (prior to which these paintings had been attributed to the Master of the Triptych of Oultremont) and continued by Friedländer, currently numbers some 30 to 40 paintings, including several devotional pieces and about 10 portraits. Friedländer’s attribution of The Tree of Jesse (SK-A-3901) to the young Jan Mostaert, which was adopted by Boon and others, remained controversial in the 20th century. Here it is reattributed to Geertgen tot Sint Jans.
Van Mander 1604, fol. 229r-v; Glück 1896; Steinbart in Thieme/Becker XXV, 1931, pp. 189-91; Friedländer X, 1932, pp. 9-32; Thierry de Bye Dólleman 1962; Thierry de Bye Dólleman 1963; Van der Klooster 1964; Duverger 1971; ENP X, 1973, pp. 11-23; Miedema III, 1996, pp. 190-204; Snijder in Turner 1996, XXII, pp. 199-201; Van Thiel-Stroman 2006, pp. 249-53
(Jan Piet Filedt Kok)
The man is shown half-length, seated and writing at a table against a red backdrop on which there is a coat of arms and inscriptions in Latin and Dutch. He is wearing a black damask doublet decorated with a motif of tendrils and laced together at the front with points. Over that he has a gown with puffed sleeves and a silk shawl collar. His shirt is pleated at the neck. The puffed sleeves and the absence of a flounced edge suggest a date of c. 1535.9
The narrow account book, the seal and the sticks of sealing wax suggest that this is the portrait of a merchant. Scholars and merchants were portrayed in a similar way in the early decades of the 16th century, examples being the portrait of Erasmus by Quinten Massijs,10 and in portraits by Barend van Orley.11.
On the evidence of the clothing, the date on the frame, the third digit of which is illegible, should be read as 1535. Unfortunately, the coat of arms has not provided a clue to the sitter’s identity. The inscriptions, which translate as ‘Trust in God’, which was borrowed from St Gregory, are underscored by the man’s gesture of placing his hand on his heart. It is not clear whether the initials ‘A’ and ‘I’ in the Dutch inscription are the sitter’s monogram.
There are no convincing grounds for the attribution of this portrait to Jan Mostaert, which was accepted without question when it was made by Friedländer in 1905.12 The structure of the portrait and the broad, rather unrefined manner do not provide any direct connections with the portraits that can be attributed to Mostaert with a reasonable degree of certainty.13
(Jan Piet Filedt Kok)
Friedländer 1905a, p. 510 (as Mostaert); Ring 1913, pp. 89, 160 (as Mostaert); Friedländer X, 1932, p. 123, no. 32 (as Mostaert); Winkler 1959, p. 213, note 50 (as Mostaert); ENP X, 1973, p. 72, no. 32 (as Mostaert)
1887, p. 68, no. 543 (as Dutch school, 1535); 1903, p. 15, no. 145 (as Dutch school, 1535); 1934, p. 13, no. 145 (as attributed to Mostaert); 1976, p. 401, no. A 743 (as manner of Mostaert)