oil on panel
support: h 45.7 cm × w 43.4 cm
sightsize: h 44.9 cm × w 40.8 cm
frame: h 57 cm × w 52.2 cm
oil on panel
support: h 45.7 cm × w 43.4 cm
sightsize: h 44.9 cm × w 40.8 cm
frame: h 57 cm × w 52.2 cm
The support consists of two vertically grained oak planks (28.8 and 14.5 cm), 0.4 cm thick. Dendrochronology has shown that the youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1498. The panel could have been ready for use by 1509, but a date in or after 1523 is more likely. Traces of two dowels are visible on the reverse. The smooth off-white ground (most likely chalk and glue) can be seen through the paint layers in many areas, especially the fur. There are no traces of unpainted edges or the remains of a barbe. The top and bottom of the panel were cut off, and the left and right sides were probably trimmed. A black or brownish underdrawing in a liquid medium visible to the naked eye indicates the outlines of the costume and the face. The paint was generally apllied in one or two layers. The blue background was rendered with a thin blue underpaint covered by a thin blue top layer in the light areas and a thicker blue in the dark areas. The face was subtly modelled with pale pinkish, semi-transparent paint applied in varying thicknesses. Light brown glazes were added for the mid-tones. The deepest shadows and final details were defined with dark brown in a single brushstroke. The shaded areas in the red collar were modelled with red glazes only; the lights are composed of a white layer covered by a red glaze. The figure was reserved. Some adjustments were made to the position of the contours; the areas reserved for the bonnet and the hair were reduced in size in a later painting stage.
Fair. There are several cracks in the panel, and the join is open near the top. The paint is raised along the join. The paint surface is abraded, with discoloured areas and pinpoint losses. There is severe damage along all the edges, where discoloured retouching and fillings from at least two restorations can be discerned.
…; ? estate inventory, James II (1633-1701), King of England, Whitehall, 15 February 1688, fol. 64r, no. 35 (‘By Holben. A mans head with a flat black Cap side face, with two hands in itt’); ? estate inventory, William III (1650-1702), Prince of Orange, King of England, Whitehall Castle, after 1688, p. 19, no. 35, ‘The Kings Great Closet’ (‘A man with a flat black cap, sideface, two hands. Holbein’); ? estate inventory, Kensington House, 1697, fol. 193, no. 32, ‘Upon ye Stair Case’ (‘A Man at ½ length with two hands’); ? estate inventory, Kensington House, 1700, fol. 10, no. 31, ‘Upon the Stair Case’ (‘holben. Man ½ Length with 2 hands’); ? transferred to Paleis Het Loo, Apeldoorn, 1702 (‘la tète d’un homme dans un bonnet noir par Holben’);1 ? appraisal Paleis Het Loo, 6-7 December 1712, no. 43, ‘Found in the art cabinet and gallery’ (‘een Portrait van Holben’), fl. 175/200;2 ? estate inventory, Paleis Het Loo, 8 April 1713, no. 889, ‘the cabinet of paintings, namely the third cabinet near His Majesty’s new bedchamber’ (‘Een pourtrait gemaekt door Holbeen’);3 estate inventory, Paleis Het Loo, 1757/63, no. 15, ‘In the ballroom’ (‘Een borststuk van Holbeen’, hoog 2v, breet 1½ v [60 x 45 cm]’);4 ...; first recorded in the museum in 1801, as Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of Maximilian of Austria;5 on loan to the Mauritshuis, The Hague, since 19516
Object number: SK-A-165
Copyright: Public domain
Joos van Cleve (? Cleves c. 1485/90 - Antwerp 1540/41), workshop of
On the evidence of the painted self-portraits and the archival documents regarding Joos van Cleve’s career it can be assumed that he was probably born between 1485 and 1490. His name suggests that he or his family came from the city or region of Cleves in the north-west of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, near the current Dutch border and the river Rhine. He worked on the painted wings of the altarpiece in the Sankt Nikolaikirche in Kalkar from 1506 to 1509 under the supervision of Jan Joest. It is not known whether Van Cleve was Joest’s apprentice, or whether he was a journeyman. Nevertheless, his prominent self-portrait in The Raising of Lazarus in Kalkar would appear to demonstrate Joest’s recognition of his abilities as a painter.
Joos van Cleve was registered as a free master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1511, of which he was one of the deans in 1519, 1520 and 1525. In 1519 he married Anna Vijdt, who died in 1529, and he remarried shortly afterwards, his second wife being Katlijne van Mispelteren. Guicciardini states in his 1567 description of the Low Countries that Joos van Cleve painted many portraits of nobles at the court of King Francis I. This, combined with the fact that Van Cleve is not mentioned in Antwerp archival documents between 1529 and 1535, has led to the widespread belief that he was working at the French court at the time. A French document of 17 February 1533, however, records that Joos van Cleve gave the art dealer Joris Vezeleer (for his portrait see SK-A-3292) permission to receive a payment from Francis I for the delivery of three paintings. It could therefore be assumed that he stayed in Antwerp and that Vezeleer was his intermediary with the King of France. It is not known whether this procedure was in operation throughout that entire period, or whether Van Cleve was in France himself in the years 1529-32 and/or 1534-35.
In 1538, Joos van Cleve and Adriaen Tack are recorded as deans of the Poor Box, the guild’s fund for the aid of the poor and sick. On his sickbed on 10 November 1540, Joos van Cleve drew up a notarised document which was witnessed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Maarten Thysman, a glass-maker. Since Van Cleve’s wife, Katlijne van Mispelteren, was registered as a widow on 4 February 1541, it can be concluded that the artist must have died between those two dates. His son, Cornelis, took over the running of his father’s workshop.
It required most of the 19th century to identify Joos van Cleve as the author of a group of paintings assembled around the Cologne Death of the Virgin and the painting of the same subject in Munich.7 On the basis of stylistic similarities the painter of these works was referred to as The Master of the Death of the Virgin. Based on the documents relating to Joos van Cleve’s life that were published by Van den Branden in 1883, Firmenich-Richartz connected the ‘IvaB’ monogram on the wings of the Reinhold Altarpiece in Warsaw,8 and the Death of the Virgin triptych in Cologne to Joos van Cleve, thereby giving a name to the artistic personality known as the Master of the Death of the Virgin.
At least five pupils are known to have been trained by Joos van Cleve. He and his workshop assistants were responsible for altarpieces commissioned by Italian, Netherlandish and German clients among others, devotional works produced in series for the open market, and many portraits. Besides the works in Warsaw and Cologne, five other paintings bear a monogram or contain a self-portrait of the painter.9 These works form the core of an oeuvre that nowadays comprises over 300 paintings, which are very divergent in both style and quality. At the beginning of his career one can detect the influences of Bruges painters and of his presumed master, Jan Joest. However, the work of Albrecht Dürer and of Italian artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Bernardino Luini soon began to play an important role. Although these various influences are visibly integrated in the artist’s works, Joos van Cleve did create a distinctive and recognisable oeuvre.
Guicciardini 1567, p. 98; Van Mander 1604, fols. 226r-27r; Van den Branden 1883, pp. 128-29; Firmenich-Richartz 1894; Cohen in Thieme/Becker VIII, 1912, pp. 98-99; Baldass 1925; Friedländer IX, 1931, pp. 20-73; ENP XII, 1975, pp. 17-47; Scailliérez 1991, pp. 7-14; Miedema III, 1996, pp. 158-65; Hand in Turner 1996, VIII, pp. 423-26; Ekkart in Saur XIX, 1998, pp. 550-52; Hand 2004, pp. 5-7; Leeflang 2007a, pp. 21-38
A young man shown half-length against a light blue background is wearing a black gown lined with spotted lynx fur over a black jerkin with a horizontal neckline on top of a red doublet with a standing collar and a white pleated shirt with smockwork edges. The sleeves of the gown are slashed to reveal the red sleeves of his doublet. On his head he has a serrated bonnet or cap with a broad serrated brim made from two pieces of cloth. This type of headgear, known as a Milan bonnet, may have been reserved for the nobility and came into fashion around 1520.10 The standing collar of the doublet, which fastened at the back, became increasingly higher in this period, and was left open at the neck, with the corners bent outwards to display the decorated shirt collar.11 This combination of a Milan bonnet, gown, jerkin and doublet was worn around 1520-30.12
Nothing is known about the sitter’s identity. In 1801, shortly after arriving in the Nationale Konst-Gallerij in The Hague from Paleis Het Loo, it was recorded as being a portrait of Emperor Maximilian I by Hans Holbein. In the Rijksmuseum collection catalogue of 1887, Bredius attributed it to the Master of the Death of the Virgin, who had been identified as Joos van Cleve in 1884. The transparently modelled skin with the almost transparent shadows is typical of Van Cleve and his workshop. The background, fading from sky blue to a bluish white from top to bottom, is also characteristic of the workshop. The background is for example comparable to that in Joos van Cleve’s Self-Portrait of 1519 in Madrid.13 The topmost layers of glaze of the present painting seem to be missing here and there, robbing the picture of the subtle finishing touch that is so characteristic of Joos van Cleve. The X-radiographs show that the brushwork is not as delicate as one would expect from the master himself. However, since there are several similarities, such as the modelling of the face, to his autograph portraits, like the pair in Florence (fig. a), this painting must be attributed to a workshop assistant.
This portrait was probably one of a group of 30 paintings which Stadholder-King William III (1650-1702) transferred from English palaces to his Het Loo hunting palace in 1702. After he died that same year, the English crown demanded the return of these works, but this was never done, and they remained the property of William’s heir, Johan Willem Friso van Nassau-Dietz (1687-1711).14 Johan Willem Friso’s wax seal is on the back of seven of these paintings, including this one, which is the only one to have a second seal on the back, that of William and his wife Mary (1662-94).15 This portrait may be identical with the painting described in 1697 and 1700 in inventories of the English court as a work by Hans Holbein: ‘Man ½ Length with 2 hands’. The 1757 inventory of Paleis Het Loo lists a ‘bust by Holbein’, which may be the same painting, with the measurements of 2 x 1.5 feet.16 The support has been cut down at both top and bottom. If the inventory listings do indeed refer to this painting it is likely that the bottom was sawn off between 1700 and 1757, which could have removed the hands mentioned in the 1688-1700 inventories. The top was then enlarged, possibly to make the panel fit back into its original frame.17 When a new piece was added at the top, it is possible that part of the top of the original support was removed so as to join the two wooden parts together. In 1925, Baldass stated that pieces had been added to the top, bottom and left side, and gave the height of the painting as 59.2 cm, which is 13.5 cm more than the present measurement.18 Based on the information in the museum files, the assumed piece added at the top must have been removed before 1951, when the painting was given on loan to the Mauritshuis.19 Comparison of the present painting with the pair of portraits by Joos van Cleve in Florence (fig. a) also suggests that it originally showed the hands and possibly had a pendant.
(Vanessa Hoogland/Micha Leeflang)
Hofstede de Groot 1903, pp. 111-12; Ring 1913, p. 67; Winkler 1924, p. 252; Baldass 1925, p. 28, no. 67; Friedländer IX, 1931, p. 141, no. 87; Tóth-Ubbens in coll. cat. The Hague 1968, p. 17, no. 895; Broos in The Hague 1988, pp. 85-86, no. 13; Buvelot and Sluiter in coll. cat. The Hague 2004a, p. 275, no. 895; Buvelot in coll. cat. The Hague 2004b, pp. 92-93, no. 895; Hand 2004, p. 193, no. 121
1801, p. 49, no. 100 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’); 1809, p. 34, no. 136 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’); 1843, p. 29, no. 130 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’; ‘in good condition’); 1853, p. 34, no. 360 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’; fl. 1,000); 1858, p. 65, no. 133 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’); 1880, pp. 436-37, no. 519 (as Hans Holbein, ‘Portrait of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire’); 1887, p. 90, no. 761 (as Cologne school, attributed to the Master of the Death of the Virgin); 1903, p. 3, no. 21 (as German school); 1934, p. 3, no. 21 (as German school); 1976, p. 169, no. A 165