oil on panel
support: d 15 cm
oil on panel
support: d 15 cm
The support is a single round panel, probably of limewood (information from Peter Klein). On the reverse there are two mechanically produced vertical grooves on the left and right (see also SK-A-4027). The ground, which is probably white, extends to the edges of the panel, and was applied with broad brushstrokes that are visible through the paint layers. Infrared reflectography shows a schematic underdrawing of contour lines, which may indicate the use of a cartoon. The face was left in reserve. The paint was applied in thin layers, and the flesh tones were painted wet in wet.
Good. There are two vertical cracks in the support. The paint layer is slightly abraded, especially in the dark areas, and the retouching underneath the chin is discoloured.
The portrait is mounted in a tondo frame with a shallow entablature profile. The cross-section of the profile shows a fillet and a jump, a fillet, a reverse ogee, a plain frieze, a jump and a fillet, a bead, a fillet and a jump, an ogee, a jump, a fillet and a jump at the sight edge (fig. a). The round frame was made out of one piece of wood, probably walnut, with an inscription in off-white paint.
…; ? estate inventory, Kasteel Buren, 1675/1712, ‘in the great hall’, with pendant (probably SK-A-4027), nos. 13.5, 13.6 (‘Noch Renée de Chalon met Sijne princesse, beyde in profijl.’);1 ? estate inventory, Kasteel Buren, 1759, ‘The large upper hall’, no. 151 (‘Seven schilderije, pourtraiten’);2 estate inventory, Stadholder’s Court, The Hague, 1763/64, no. 4 (‘Een portrait met dit opschrift in de lijst: René de Chalon d’Orange, comte de Nassou, agé de 23 ans, 1542, NB., in een ronde bruyne lijst, 5½ D. Bij 5½ D. [14 by 14 cm]’);3 recorded ‘in the writing cabinet’ of Willem V (1748-1806), Prince of Orange;4 ...; ? transferred to the Koninklijk Kabinet van Zeldzaamheden, The Hague, c. 1816;5 from whom acquired by the Nederlandsch Museum voor Geschiedenis en Kunst, The Hague (inv. no. 193), 1874-75; transferred to the museum, 1885; on loan to the Vereniging Oranje-Nassau Museum, The Hague, 1926-32
Object number: SK-A-4462
Copyright: Public domain
Jan van Scorel (Schoorl 1495 - Utrecht 1562), workshop of
Jan van Scorel was born in 1495, according to Karel van Mander, in the village of Schoorl northwest of Alkmaar, the natural son of a priest, Andries Ouckeyn, and Dieuwer Aertsdr. He died in Utrecht in 1562 and was buried in the Mariakerk, where a funerary monument was erected that contained a portrait of Scorel by his pupil, Antonio Moro. Van Mander praised Scorel for having visited Italy, returning with a new and more beautiful manner of painting; and the artist is still recognised today for the widespread influence that his Italianate style had in the northern Netherlands.
Jan van Scorel was not only a painter but also a canon. His church office in the Mariakerk, Utrecht, prohibited him from marrying, but his will (1537) tells us that he lived with Agatha van Schoonhoven as his common-law wife; the date 1529 on Scorel’s portrait of her must mark the period when the two met.6 One of the couple’s six children, Peter (c. 1530-1622) became a painter. Van Mander’s remark that Scorel ‘was very familiar with and liked by all the great lords of the Netherlands,’ is almost an understatement. The artist built up an influential network among the clergy, beginning with Pope Adrian VI, the artist’s protector when he arrived in Rome around 1522, and including Herman van Lokhorst, dean of Oudmunster (St Saviour), Scorel’s first, important patron in Utrecht, and other fellow ecclesiastics. In addition, Scorel had high court connections. In the negotiations surrounding his canonry, Scorel’s sponsors were none other than the stadholders Henry III of Nassau-Breda and Floris of Egmond, the most powerful nobles at the Court of Holland at the time. In c. 1532-33, Scorel visited the courts at Breda and Mechelen, where he met the neo-Latin poet, Janus Secundus, and was at the court in Brussels around 1552. Scorel also worked for the municipality of Utrecht and received payments from the city for his activities associated with the triumphal entries into Utrecht of Charles V (1540) and Philip II (1549).
Van Mander provides us with the most credible account of Scorel’s training. After attending the Latin School in Alkmaar until c. 1509, Scorel apprenticed for three years with Cornelis Willemsz in Haarlem (who was also Maarten van Heemskerck’s master). He then moved to Amsterdam around 1512, where he became an assistant in Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen’s workshop. Van Mander also reports that Scorel studied briefly with Jan Gossaert, who came to Utrecht after his protector, Philip of Burgundy, had been elected bishop in 1517. By 1518-19 Scorel left the Netherlands on a long journey whose route was described in detail by Karel van Mander, eventually taking the painter to Venice, the Holy Land and Rome.
Scorel’s stays in both Venice and Rome can be construed as a continuation of his training, for he was profoundly influenced by his new surroundings. After returning to Venice from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem around 1520, Scorel painted a number of portraits and landscapes, and he may have ventured on to Rome when the Utrecht native, Adriaan Florisz Boeyens, was elected pope in January 1522. According to Van Mander, Scorel not only had access to antique statuary as overseer of the Vatican collections in the Belvedere, an appointment he received from Pope Adrian VI, he was also able to make drawings after Raphael, Michelangelo and the works of other Italian masters. Adrian VI’s promise to Scorel of a canonry in Utrecht led the artist to settle there in 1524 after his return from Rome.
Van Mander’s life of Jan van Scorel is the primary source for the reconstruction of the painter’s oeuvre. He knew, for instance, that during his early travels, the painter worked for nobility in Carinthia (Austria), where Scorel’s first signed and dated painting, the 1519 Holy Kinship altarpiece, can still be seen today.7 The major touchstone of Scorel’s first years in Utrecht, the Triptych with the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem painted as a memorial for members of the Lokhorst family around 1526,8 is described at length by Van Mander. When Jan van Scorel moved to Haarlem (1527-30), Van Mander tells us that he was received by Simon van Sanen, Commander of the Knights of St John. Both Van Mander’s account and the inventories of the order mention a number of key works that Scorel completed during this period: The Baptism of Christ, Adam and Eve9 and Mary Magdalen (SK-A-372). Scorel’s Haarlem period was an extremely critical and productive one: he established his basic repertoire of subjects, received more prestigious commissions, such as the Crucifixion Altarpiece for the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (now lost), rented a house and took on students, among them Maarten van Heemskerck, and expanded and standardised the operations of his workshop.
Scorel’s ‘most flourishing period’, according to Karel van Mander, followed upon the artist’s return to Utrecht by September 1530. Unfortunately, many of the works Van Mander describes from this period have been lost. The Finding of the True Cross triptych, probably commissioned by Henry III of Nassau-Breda in the mid-1530s, has survived, although in poor condition.10 Some remarkable discoveries were made in the late 20th century of altarpieces executed by Scorel and his shop around 1540 for the abbey of Marchiennes in what is now northern France. Fragments survive from an Altarpiece with St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, and the Polyptych with Sts James the Greater and Stephen lacks only one wing.11 These works, along with the Landscape with Bathsheba of c. 1540-45 (SK-A-670), provide us with a better understanding of Scorel’s late style. His oeuvre consists of some 60 extant paintings, between 20 and 25 drawings, and 6 designs for prints.
In addition to Maarten van Heemskerck, Antonio Moro and Scorel’s son Peter were apprentices in Scorel’s shop. Others, such as Lambert Sustris, may have had brief contact with his workshop as assistants.
Van Mander describes Scorel as the typical uomo universale of his time. He was skilled in languages, wrote poetry as well as songs, acted as an amateur archaeologist and marine engineer, and participated in an ambitious land development scheme, the reclamation of the Zijpe in north Holland.
Lampsonius 1572 (1956), no. 17; Buchelius 1583-1639 (1928), pp. 21, 26-30, 52, 63-64; Van Mander 1604, fols. 234r-36v; Muller 1880; Justi 1881, pp. 193-210; Scheibler/Bode 1881, pp. 211-14; Hoogewerff 1923a; Friedländer XII, 1935, pp. 118-56; Hoogewerff in Thieme/Becker XXX, 1936, pp. 401-04; Hoogewerff IV, 1941-42, pp. 23-191; ENP XII, 1975, pp. 65-81; Faries 1970, pp. 2-24 (documents); Faries 1972; Faries in Amsterdam 1986a, pp. 179-80; Miedema III, 1996, pp. 268-90; Faries in Turner 1996, XXVIII, pp. 215-29; Faries 1997, pp. 107-16; Van Thiel-Stroman in coll. cat. Haarlem 2006, pp. 303-04; Faries in coll. cat. Utrecht 2009, biography accompanying no. 20
According to the inscription on its frame, this bust-length portrait shows the Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau, René de Chalon at the age of 23. He wears a white shirt, which is ruffled at the collar, underneath a black doublet with pink sleeves and gold buttons. Around his neck hangs a double gold chain.
This painting forms a pair with a portrait of René’s wife Anne of Lorraine (SK-A-4027). While the inscription on an etched copy of René’s portrait (RP-P-1937-1310) locates it in the stadholder’s collection, the portrait of Anna is not securely documented until 1960, when it was bought by the Rijksmuseum and reunited with that of her husband.12
Anne is depicted in a black dress embellished with gold detailing and pearls. A gold chain strung with pearls hangs around her neck. Beneath her black gown, the collar of her chemise has a ruffled edge and is embroidered with geometric patterns in intricate blackwork. Her hair is gathered in puffs at the ears; her gold hairnet and small black bonnet with a white plume are a fashion derived from Spain and Italy.13
Based on the painting technique as well as the underdrawing, both images appear to be by the same hand and are executed on similar limewood panels.14 Anne’s panel has been trimmed around the edge and is now slightly smaller than its companion, but originally it was probably the same size. The strong profiles of the sitters and the tondo format evoke the appearance of ancient coins and portrait medallions.15
René was born in Breda on 5 February 1519 to Hendrik III of Nassau and Claudia de Châlon. From the latter he would inherit the ample princedom of Orange. He was Stadholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelderland under Emperor Charles V. His wife Anne, daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, was born on 22 July 1522. The couple married on 20 August 1540 and settled in Breda shortly afterwards. On 17 July 1544, René died in the Battle of St Dizier in France. Four years later, Anne married her second husband, Philippe III de Croy, the first Duke of Aarschot. She died on 22 August 1568.16
A related pair of portraits of René and Anne survives in the Stedelijk Museum in Diest.17 In these images, the costumes and physiognomies of the couple are portrayed in a manner nearly identical to those in the Amsterdam tondo portraits. The images in Diest and Amsterdam would thus seem to follow a common model. They can be dated to the second half of the 16th century on the evidence of the painting technique.
The earliest documented reference to a portrait of René (‘’t conterfeytsel van René Desschalon’) appears in a 1590 inventory of Breda Palace.18 Subsequent 17th-century inventories refer to pairs of portraits of both René and Anne.19 The 1632 inventory of the palace at Noordeinde refers to ‘twee schilderien van Rhené de Chalon ende sijn gemael, staende in perfijl’ (two paintings of René de Châlon and his wife, standing in profile), and the inventory of the castle in Buren from 1675 lists portraits of ‘Renée de Chalon met Sijne princesse, beyde in profijl’ (René de Châlon and his princess, both in profile). Some works of art were transferred from Breda to Buren in the early 17th century, so Van Luttervelt has suggested that these two references might be to the same image of René, but this does not account for the fact that the 1590 inventory refers only to a portrait of René and not to an accompanying one of Anne. An original pair of portraits of the couple may have been divided after René’s death and Anne’s remarriage. Such a scenario would explain why René’s portrait is listed alone in the Breda inventory, and why it appears without the accompanying portrait of Anne in the collection of the stadholders. Unfortunately, it is impossible to sort out which of these inventory records might refer to the Amsterdam portraits, or which refer instead to their counterparts in Diest or a lost original pair.
Van Luttervelt has argued that the original images of the couple were painted by Jan van Scorel or one of his assistants in Breda during the first half of 1542, the year inscribed on the original frame of René’s tondo portrait in Amsterdam.20 Scorel and René are both documented in Breda during this period.21 Moreover, Van Mander records that the artist produced ‘several works’ for René and his father, which most probably included the surviving triptych of The Finding of the True Cross in Breda’s Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.22 As such, a link between Scorel and the original portraits of René and Anne seems plausible, but the attribution remains speculative at this time.
Moes II, 1905, no. 6326:2; Van Luttervelt 1962, pp. 60-67; Utrecht 1977, pp. 67-68, no. 17
1903, p. 15, no. 146 (as Dutch school, first half 16th century); 1934, p. 13, no. 146; 1960, p. 11, no. 146 (as Dutch school, 16th century); 1976, p. 648, no. A 4462 (as Netherlands school ?, 1542)