Metsys’s Musician: A Newly Recognized Early Work

Quinten Metsys (1466_1530),  Jacob Obrecht, 1496, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum

The major late fifteenth-century portrait of Jacob Obrecht, from the collection of the Kimbell Art Museum, has now been attributed as the earliest dated and, arguably, first signed work by Quinten Metsys that is known. The only contemporary surviving likeness of the renowned composer, the panel dates to the key first decade in Metsys’s career, a time when Hans Memling was the dominant model for the painter. This new attribution creates a benchmark for the artist’s oeuvre, against which other works can now be compared.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.2.1

Acknowledgements

From the Kimbell Art Museum, we would like to thank Director Eric M. Lee, Deputy Director George T. M. Shackelford; Curator Nancy E. Edwards; Director of Conservation Claire Barry, Assistant Paintings Conservator Peter Van de Moortel, and Robert LaPrelle, photographer. Additionally, many thanks to Mark Trowbridge, former associate editor of the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art, and to the anonymous external reviewers for their comments and feedback concerning this exciting new attribution and for their careful attention in the preparation of this article. We would also like to thank countless colleagues around the world who have graciously lent their information and insights regarding Metsys’s work.

Rafael Barrientos Martinez wishes to dedicate this article to Claire Barry, Director of Conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum, for her continued support and encouragement, and Larry Silver wishes to dedicate his work to Maryan W. Ainsworth of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, esteemed colleague and lifelong friend.

Quinten Metsys (1466_1530),  Jacob Obrecht, 1496, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Fig. 1 Quinten Metsys (1466–1530), Jacob Obrecht, 1496, tempera, oil, and gold on panel, 51.4 x 36.2 cm. Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, inv. AP 1993.02 (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys (1466_1530),  Jacob Obrecht, Detail of fig. 1., 1496, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Fig. 2 Detail of fig. 1.
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Canon,  1525_30, Vienna, Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections
Fig. 3 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Canon, 1525–30, oil on wood panel, 74 x 60 cm. Vienna, Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections, inv. GE 928 (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Scholar,  ca. 1525_30, Frankfurt am Main, St_del Museum
Fig. 4 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Scholar, ca. 1525–30, oil on oak panel, 68.8 x 53.3 cm. Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv. 113 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Städel Museum-ARTOTHEK)
Antvverpiae civitatis Belgicae toto orbe cogniti , ca. 1557,
Fig. 5 Antvverpiae civitatis Belgicae toto orbe cogniti et celebrati emporii simulacrum, ca. 1557 (copy after Hieronymus Cock). Detail showing the Onse Lieve Vrouwen Pand across the courtyard from the Church of Our Lady (artwork in the public domain; photo: Courtesy of Felix Archief/Stadsarchief, Antwerp)
Quinten Metsys,  Desiderius Erasmus, 1517, United Kingdom, Royal Collection Trust
Fig. 6 Quinten Metsys, Desiderius Erasmus, 1517, oil on panel, 50.5 x 45.2 cm. United Kingdom, Royal Collection Trust (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2017/Bridgeman Images)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of Peter Gillis,  16th century, Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
Fig. 7 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of Peter Gillis, 16th century, oil on panel, 59 x 46 cm. Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, inv. 198 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Lukas-Art in Flanders VZW/Bridgeman Images)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Fig. 8 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Fig. 9 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man, also known ,  ca. 1509_12, Winterthur, Switzerland, The Oskar Reinhart Collection ÒAm R_merholzÓ
Fig. 10 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man, also known as Portrait of a Pilgrim, ca. 1509–12, oil on panel, 48.3 x 33.5 cm. Winterthur, Switzerland, The Oskar Reinhart Collection “Am Römerholz” (artwork in the public domain)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10)
Fig. 11 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10) (artwork in the public domain)
Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Jacob Obrecht (fig.,
Fig. 12 Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1) (photo: Courtesy of the Kimbell Art Museum Paintings Conservation Department)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10)
Fig. 13 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10) (artwork in the public domain)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Scholar (fig. 4)
Fig. 14 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Scholar (fig. 4) (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Man with a Pink,  1500/10, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of John J. Glessner
Fig. 15 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Man with a Pink, 1500/10, oil on panel, 43.8 x 29.2 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of John J. Glessner, inv. 1894.1025 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY)
Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Portrait of a Man w,
Fig. 16 Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Portrait of a Man with a Pink (photo: Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY)
Left: infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 12); right: infrared reflectogram, detail of Portrait of a Man with a Pink (fig. 16)
Fig. 17 Left: infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 12); right: infrared reflectogram, detail of Portrait of a Man with a Pink (fig. 16)
Quinten Metsys,  The Savior, 1529, Madrid, Museo del Prado
Fig. 18 Quinten Metsys, The Savior, 1529, oil on panel, 44 x 35 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. P00156 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Museo Nacional del Prado/Art Resource, NY)
Quinten Metsys,  The Virgin Mary, 1529, Madrid, Museo del Prado
Fig. 19 Quinten Metsys, The Virgin Mary, 1529, oil on panel, 44 x 35 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. P001562 (artwork in the public domain; photo: ©Museo Nacional del Prado/Art Resource, NY)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Savior (fig. 18)
Fig. 20 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Savior (fig. 18)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Fig. 21 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Fig. 22 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1)
Fig. 23 Infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1)
  1. 1. The work was purchased from a private collection: Sotheby’s, New York, January 15, 1993, no. 139.

  2. 2. Two indentions and accompanying holes, where hinges were once attached to the right side of the panel, were concealed for display purposes upon the acquisition of the painting by the Kimbell Art Musuem in 1993. Although many Netherlandish donor portraits, such as those by Hans Memling, were paired with pendant images of the Madonna and Child, Metsys left no extant instances of such devotional diptychs, but rather consistently paired holy figures, combining the profile Virgin in Prayer with a frontal Blessing Christ. For comparisons, see John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk, Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art/Yale University Press, 2006), including Jan Gossart’s Carondelet Diptych (1517; Paris, Musée du Louvre), 4, fig. 2, where the donor also appears in the dexter wing with hands folded in prayer and set against a monochrome background. Several devotional panels with donors in the dexter wing actually were part of triptych ensembles, e.g., the Hans Memling portraits of donors in prayer: Tommaso Portinari and Maria Baroncelli (ca. 1470; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) or and Willem Moreel and Barbara van Vlaenderberch (ca. 1480; Brussels, Musées Royaux). See Till-Holger Borchert, Maryan Wynn Ainsworth, Lorne Campbell, and Paula Nuttall, Memling’s Portraits (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005), pls. 2, 19, as well as the extant 1487 triptych of Benedetto Portinari (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, and Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), pl. 30, where the name saint appears on the dexter wing and the donor on the inferior sinister wing.

  3. 3. Rob C. Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online), Oxford University Press, accessed July 31, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezproxy.tcu.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/20231.

  4. 4. The Kimbell panel is the only evidence for the dating of Obrecht’s birthdate, which is itself unrecorded. It is important to note that the lower band of writing is a later addition that sits atop a layer of gilding which once covered much of the engaged frame. This gilding was removed in 1993 during cleaning and restoration of the painting at the Kimbell Art Museum.

  5. 5. Dirk De Vos, Dominique Marechal, Willy Le Loup, and Maryan W. Ainsworth, Hans Memling (Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 336. In the important catalogue Memling’s Portraits (see note 2 above, 178–79, no. 18), Till-Holger Borchert endorsed the association with Memling with some qualifications but cast doubt on whether the named sitter is identical with the famous Flemish composer, as claimed by De Vos. However, Borchert’s claim that Obrecht’s curriculum vitae and first mass would locate his date of birth in 1454/55 and thus make him forty-one or forty-two rather than thirty-eight, as recorded on the frame, seems overfine as a criterion of dating.

  6. 6. See De Vos et al., Hans Memling, and Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits.

  7. 7. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336. Also, Obrecht returned once again to Bruges and served as the succentor at St. Donatian from December 1498 until September 1500 (see Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” note 3 above). An alternate theory for the problem of the painting’s being dated after Memling’s death, namely that the painting was commissioned in 1489 to celebrate the composer’s appointment as chaplain at St. Donatian’s, but with the age of the sitter being added in 1491, was advanced by R. Strohm, “Music, Ritual, and Painting in Fifteenth-Century Bruges,” in Hans Memling: Essays, ed. Dirk De Vos and Maryan Wynn Ainsworth (Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 30–44; however, this theory is correctly rejected by Borchert (Memling’s Portraits, no. 18) as tortured and “unlikely,” especially with the presence of the date 1496 on the frame. For Borchert that complexity raises the question of whether the subject of the portrait is actually the famous composer Jacob Obrecht or his father, Ghent city trumpeter Willem Obrecht (alternately spelled Hobrecht), but this is also unlikely in light of the coincidence of spellings and the canon’s costume of the sitter.

  8. 8. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336.

  9. 9. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 56, 107–10, 149, 178.

  10. 10. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 56.

  11. 11. Larry Silver, The Paintings of Quinten Massys with Catalogue Raisonné (Montclair, N.J.: Allanheld & Schram, 1984), 36–37, 161–63.

  12. 12. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 249.

  13. 13. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 161, no. 11; see the fine study by Ainsworth, “Minimal Means, Remarkable Results: Memling’s Portrait Painting Technique,” in Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 93–111, esp. 107–10 for the Kimbell painting, which she says does not accord with a late Memling attribution, especially due to the lack of underdrawing modeling.

  14. 14. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 173, no. 23.

  15. 15. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336.

  16. 16. Rob C. Wegman, Born for the Muses: The Life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 287.

  17. 17. In Tinctoris’s Complexus effectuum musices he writes: “For who has not heard of Johannes Okeghem, Anthonius . . . Jacobus Obrechts?”: Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online (see note 3 above). Scholars do wonder if Obrecht’s name was added later, especially since the only surviving copy of this text was transcribed in 1504 in the musician’s birthplace.

  18. 18. Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online. It is interesting to note that one of his compositions from this era in Bergen op Zoom “reached the court of Duke Ercole d’Este of Ferrara by 1484.”

  19. 19. Ibid. The role of a succentor is to be a deputy to a precentor.

  20. 20. Ibid. It was on a return visit to the d’Este family in 1505 that Obrecht would die of the plague.

  21. 21. Ibid. Obrecht was dismissed from his position in Bruges as early as May of 1490 but was kept on until January of the following year.

  22. 22. Ibid. Obrecht served as Capellanie magister of the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp off and on, returning to St. Gertrude in Bergen op Zoom in 1497, then St. Donatian in Bruges in 1498. He would appear again in Antwerp in 1501.

  23. 23. Ibid.

  24. 24. Ibid. Obrecht resigned from his post at St. Donatian in Bruges due to illness in September 1500.

  25. 25. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 5–6. Jan van der Stock, ed., Antwerp: Story of a Metropolis, 16th–17th Century (Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju, 1993).

  26. 26. Dan Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp, 1460–1560: Our Lady’s Pand.” Art Bulletin 72, no. 4 (1990): 560 (https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762.

  27. 27. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 6.

  28. 28. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 558. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  29. 29. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 563. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  30. 30. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 563. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  31. 31. Philipp Félix Rombouts and Théodore François Xavier van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven der Antwerpsche sint Lucasgilde . . . Antwerp: Koninck, 1864.

  32. 32. “Dit jaer so vercreghen dese Regeerders voerscreven den ersten brief ende insettinghe van den Broederscap van Onser Liever Vrouwen vij Ween, die ghehouden wort in Sinte Lucas capelle, in Onser Liever Vrouwen kerke t’Antwerpen.” (Rombouts and Van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven, 43–51).

  33. 33. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 295. It is at this time in 1495 that Obrecht most likely wrote his Inter preclarissimas virtutes in honor of Alexander VI.

  34. 34. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 295.

  35. 35. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 298.

  36. 36. Rombouts and Van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven, 43.

  37. 37. Franchoys Fickaert, Metamorphosis, or the Wonderful Transformation and Life of the Revered Mr. Quinten Matsys (Antwerp, 1648), and Alexander, van Fornenbergh, The Antwerp Proteus or the Cyclopean Apelles, that is the Life and Artful Deeds of the Exceptional and the Esteemed Mr. Quinten Massys, Transformed from Smith into Fine Painter (Antwerp, 1658). For the larger context of such origin myths as a form of praise for artists, see Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), esp. 13–60. The formative role these early biographical sources played in defining an Antwerp art tradition is discussed in Zirka Zaremba Filipczak, Picturing Art in Antwerp 1550–1700 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 57, 145-46.

  38. 38. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys. Max J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting: VII, trans. Heinz Norden (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971).

  39. 39. Hand, Metzger, and Spronk, Prayers and Portraits, 116–20, no. 16.

  40. 40. Friedlander, Early Netherlandish Painting, 34.

  41. 41. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, pl. 143.

  42. 42. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, pl. 138. The date of this work, 1509, is inscribed on a piece of paper within the sitter’s grasp. This date along with a Jerusalem cross documents a completed pilgrimage to the Holy Land by the sitter.

  43. 43. A similar piece of paper appears in the hand of Pieter Gillis in the original pendant panel (private collection) of the “Friendship Diptych,” see Hand, Metzger, and Spronk, Prayers and Portraits, 116–20. Its inscription reads “V[iro] Il[lus]trissimo Petro/Egidio Amico charissimo/Anverpiae [or Anverpiis]” (To the most [lettered?] man Peter Gillis my very dear friend in Antwerp), and thus identifies the sitter within the picture. See Lorne Campbell, Miguel Falomir, Jennifer Fletcher, and Luke Syson, Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery, 2008), 168–69, no. 42.

  44. 44. See the range of Netherlandish portraits before Metsys in Lorne Campbell, “Memling and the Netherlandish Portrait Tradition,” in Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 49–67.

  45. 45. Infrared reflectogram mosaic kindly provided by the Art Institute of Chicago.

  46. 46. These strokes do not run the length of Obrecht’s hair but only begin a few centimeters before they cross his hair line onto his forehead.

  47. 47. These details have also been noted in the recently discovered Bradford-on-Avon/Tadgell panels now attributed as early Metsys works. Kiffy Stainer-Hutchins, Simon Watney, and Hugo Platt. “A Rediscovered Prototype by Quinten Metsys: ‘ Christ Blessing with the Virgin in Adoration,’” Burlington Magazine 152, no. 1283 (2010): 76–81 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/40601515).

  48. 48. This piece of paper and year was initially noted at the Kimbell Art Museum by Bart Devolder, Assistant Paintings Conservator, in 2012.

  49. 49. It is important to note that the obscured first initial may be a “Q.”

  50. 50. See note 43 above.

  51. 51. See note 41 above.

  52. 52. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 148, pl. 182.

  53. 53. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 229–30.

Barker, Emma, Nick Webb, and Kim Woods. The Changing Status of the Artist. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with The Open University, 1999.

Borchert, Till-Holger, Maryan Wynn Ainsworth, Lorne Campbell, and Paula Nuttall. Memling’s Portraits. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005.

Campbell, Lorne, Miguel Falomir, Jennifer Fletcher, and Luke Syson. Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian. Exh. cat. London: National Gallery, 2008.

Ewing, Dan. “Marketing Art in Antwerp, 1460–1560: Our Lady’s Pand.” Art Bulletin 72, no. 4 (1990): 558–84. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

Fickaert, Franchoys. Metamorphosis, or the Wonderful Transformation and Life of the Revered Mr. Quinten Matsys. Antwerp, 1648.

Filipczak, Zirka Zaremba. Picturing Art in Antwerp 1550–1700. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Fornenbergh, Alexander van. The Antwerp Proteus or the Cyclopean Apelles, that is the Life and Artful Deeds of the Exceptional and the Esteemed Mr. Quinten Massys, Transformed from Smith into Fine Painter. Antwerp, 1658.

Friedländer, Max J. Early Netherlandish Painting: VII. Translated by Heinz Norden. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Hand, John Oliver, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk. Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Kris, Ernst, and Otto Kurz. Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.

Rombouts, Philipp Félix, and Théodore François Xavier van Lerius. De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven der Antwerpsche sint Lucasgilde . . . Antwerp: Koninck, 1864.

Silver, Larry. The Paintings of Quinten Massys with Catalogue Raisonné. Montclair, N.J.: Allanheld & Schram, 1984.

Stainer-Hutchins, Kiffy, Simon Watney, and Hugo Platt. “A Rediscovered Prototype by Quinten Metsys: ‘Christ Blessing with the Virgin in Adoration.’” Burlington Magazine 152, no. 1283 (2010): 76–81 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/40601515).

Stock, Jan van der, ed. Antwerp: Story of a Metropolis. Exh. cat. Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju, 1993.

Vos, Dirk de, Dominique Marechal, Willy Le Loup, and Maryan W. Ainsworth. Hans Memling. Ghent: Ludion, 1994.

Vos, Dirk de, and Maryan Wynn Ainsworth. Hans Memling: Essays. Ghent: Ludion, 1994.

Wegman, Rob C. Born for the Muses: The Life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Rob C. Wegman. “Obrecht, Jacob.” Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online). Oxford University Press, accessed July 31, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezproxy.tcu.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/20231

List of Illustrations

Quinten Metsys (1466_1530),  Jacob Obrecht, 1496, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Fig. 1 Quinten Metsys (1466–1530), Jacob Obrecht, 1496, tempera, oil, and gold on panel, 51.4 x 36.2 cm. Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, inv. AP 1993.02 (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys (1466_1530),  Jacob Obrecht, Detail of fig. 1., 1496, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum
Fig. 2 Detail of fig. 1.
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Canon,  1525_30, Vienna, Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections
Fig. 3 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Canon, 1525–30, oil on wood panel, 74 x 60 cm. Vienna, Liechtenstein: The Princely Collections, inv. GE 928 (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Scholar,  ca. 1525_30, Frankfurt am Main, St_del Museum
Fig. 4 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Scholar, ca. 1525–30, oil on oak panel, 68.8 x 53.3 cm. Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv. 113 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Städel Museum-ARTOTHEK)
Antvverpiae civitatis Belgicae toto orbe cogniti , ca. 1557,
Fig. 5 Antvverpiae civitatis Belgicae toto orbe cogniti et celebrati emporii simulacrum, ca. 1557 (copy after Hieronymus Cock). Detail showing the Onse Lieve Vrouwen Pand across the courtyard from the Church of Our Lady (artwork in the public domain; photo: Courtesy of Felix Archief/Stadsarchief, Antwerp)
Quinten Metsys,  Desiderius Erasmus, 1517, United Kingdom, Royal Collection Trust
Fig. 6 Quinten Metsys, Desiderius Erasmus, 1517, oil on panel, 50.5 x 45.2 cm. United Kingdom, Royal Collection Trust (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2017/Bridgeman Images)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of Peter Gillis,  16th century, Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
Fig. 7 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of Peter Gillis, 16th century, oil on panel, 59 x 46 cm. Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, inv. 198 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Lukas-Art in Flanders VZW/Bridgeman Images)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Fig. 8 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Fig. 9 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Canon (fig. 3)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man, also known ,  ca. 1509_12, Winterthur, Switzerland, The Oskar Reinhart Collection ÒAm R_merholzÓ
Fig. 10 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man, also known as Portrait of a Pilgrim, ca. 1509–12, oil on panel, 48.3 x 33.5 cm. Winterthur, Switzerland, The Oskar Reinhart Collection “Am Römerholz” (artwork in the public domain)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10)
Fig. 11 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10) (artwork in the public domain)
Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Jacob Obrecht (fig.,
Fig. 12 Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1) (photo: Courtesy of the Kimbell Art Museum Paintings Conservation Department)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10)
Fig. 13 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Fifty-one-year-old Man (fig. 10) (artwork in the public domain)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Scholar (fig. 4)
Fig. 14 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of Portrait of a Scholar (fig. 4) (artwork in the public domain)
Quinten Metsys,  Portrait of a Man with a Pink,  1500/10, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of John J. Glessner
Fig. 15 Quinten Metsys, Portrait of a Man with a Pink, 1500/10, oil on panel, 43.8 x 29.2 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of John J. Glessner, inv. 1894.1025 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY)
Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Portrait of a Man w,
Fig. 16 Infrared reflectogram mosaic, Portrait of a Man with a Pink (photo: Art Institute of Chicago/Art Resource, NY)
Left: infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 12); right: infrared reflectogram, detail of Portrait of a Man with a Pink (fig. 16)
Fig. 17 Left: infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 12); right: infrared reflectogram, detail of Portrait of a Man with a Pink (fig. 16)
Quinten Metsys,  The Savior, 1529, Madrid, Museo del Prado
Fig. 18 Quinten Metsys, The Savior, 1529, oil on panel, 44 x 35 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. P00156 (artwork in the public domain; photo: © Museo Nacional del Prado/Art Resource, NY)
Quinten Metsys,  The Virgin Mary, 1529, Madrid, Museo del Prado
Fig. 19 Quinten Metsys, The Virgin Mary, 1529, oil on panel, 44 x 35 cm. Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. P001562 (artwork in the public domain; photo: ©Museo Nacional del Prado/Art Resource, NY)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Savior (fig. 18)
Fig. 20 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Savior (fig. 18)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Fig. 21 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Fig. 22 Left: detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1); right: detail of The Virgin Mary (fig. 19)
Infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1)
Fig. 23 Infrared reflectogram, detail of Jacob Obrecht (fig. 1)

Footnotes

  1. 1. The work was purchased from a private collection: Sotheby’s, New York, January 15, 1993, no. 139.

  2. 2. Two indentions and accompanying holes, where hinges were once attached to the right side of the panel, were concealed for display purposes upon the acquisition of the painting by the Kimbell Art Musuem in 1993. Although many Netherlandish donor portraits, such as those by Hans Memling, were paired with pendant images of the Madonna and Child, Metsys left no extant instances of such devotional diptychs, but rather consistently paired holy figures, combining the profile Virgin in Prayer with a frontal Blessing Christ. For comparisons, see John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk, Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art/Yale University Press, 2006), including Jan Gossart’s Carondelet Diptych (1517; Paris, Musée du Louvre), 4, fig. 2, where the donor also appears in the dexter wing with hands folded in prayer and set against a monochrome background. Several devotional panels with donors in the dexter wing actually were part of triptych ensembles, e.g., the Hans Memling portraits of donors in prayer: Tommaso Portinari and Maria Baroncelli (ca. 1470; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) or and Willem Moreel and Barbara van Vlaenderberch (ca. 1480; Brussels, Musées Royaux). See Till-Holger Borchert, Maryan Wynn Ainsworth, Lorne Campbell, and Paula Nuttall, Memling’s Portraits (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005), pls. 2, 19, as well as the extant 1487 triptych of Benedetto Portinari (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, and Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi), pl. 30, where the name saint appears on the dexter wing and the donor on the inferior sinister wing.

  3. 3. Rob C. Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online), Oxford University Press, accessed July 31, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezproxy.tcu.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/20231.

  4. 4. The Kimbell panel is the only evidence for the dating of Obrecht’s birthdate, which is itself unrecorded. It is important to note that the lower band of writing is a later addition that sits atop a layer of gilding which once covered much of the engaged frame. This gilding was removed in 1993 during cleaning and restoration of the painting at the Kimbell Art Museum.

  5. 5. Dirk De Vos, Dominique Marechal, Willy Le Loup, and Maryan W. Ainsworth, Hans Memling (Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 336. In the important catalogue Memling’s Portraits (see note 2 above, 178–79, no. 18), Till-Holger Borchert endorsed the association with Memling with some qualifications but cast doubt on whether the named sitter is identical with the famous Flemish composer, as claimed by De Vos. However, Borchert’s claim that Obrecht’s curriculum vitae and first mass would locate his date of birth in 1454/55 and thus make him forty-one or forty-two rather than thirty-eight, as recorded on the frame, seems overfine as a criterion of dating.

  6. 6. See De Vos et al., Hans Memling, and Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits.

  7. 7. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336. Also, Obrecht returned once again to Bruges and served as the succentor at St. Donatian from December 1498 until September 1500 (see Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” note 3 above). An alternate theory for the problem of the painting’s being dated after Memling’s death, namely that the painting was commissioned in 1489 to celebrate the composer’s appointment as chaplain at St. Donatian’s, but with the age of the sitter being added in 1491, was advanced by R. Strohm, “Music, Ritual, and Painting in Fifteenth-Century Bruges,” in Hans Memling: Essays, ed. Dirk De Vos and Maryan Wynn Ainsworth (Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 30–44; however, this theory is correctly rejected by Borchert (Memling’s Portraits, no. 18) as tortured and “unlikely,” especially with the presence of the date 1496 on the frame. For Borchert that complexity raises the question of whether the subject of the portrait is actually the famous composer Jacob Obrecht or his father, Ghent city trumpeter Willem Obrecht (alternately spelled Hobrecht), but this is also unlikely in light of the coincidence of spellings and the canon’s costume of the sitter.

  8. 8. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336.

  9. 9. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 56, 107–10, 149, 178.

  10. 10. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 56.

  11. 11. Larry Silver, The Paintings of Quinten Massys with Catalogue Raisonné (Montclair, N.J.: Allanheld & Schram, 1984), 36–37, 161–63.

  12. 12. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 249.

  13. 13. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 161, no. 11; see the fine study by Ainsworth, “Minimal Means, Remarkable Results: Memling’s Portrait Painting Technique,” in Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 93–111, esp. 107–10 for the Kimbell painting, which she says does not accord with a late Memling attribution, especially due to the lack of underdrawing modeling.

  14. 14. Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 173, no. 23.

  15. 15. De Vos et al., Hans Memling, 336.

  16. 16. Rob C. Wegman, Born for the Muses: The Life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 287.

  17. 17. In Tinctoris’s Complexus effectuum musices he writes: “For who has not heard of Johannes Okeghem, Anthonius . . . Jacobus Obrechts?”: Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online (see note 3 above). Scholars do wonder if Obrecht’s name was added later, especially since the only surviving copy of this text was transcribed in 1504 in the musician’s birthplace.

  18. 18. Wegman, “Obrecht, Jacob,” Grove Music Online. It is interesting to note that one of his compositions from this era in Bergen op Zoom “reached the court of Duke Ercole d’Este of Ferrara by 1484.”

  19. 19. Ibid. The role of a succentor is to be a deputy to a precentor.

  20. 20. Ibid. It was on a return visit to the d’Este family in 1505 that Obrecht would die of the plague.

  21. 21. Ibid. Obrecht was dismissed from his position in Bruges as early as May of 1490 but was kept on until January of the following year.

  22. 22. Ibid. Obrecht served as Capellanie magister of the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp off and on, returning to St. Gertrude in Bergen op Zoom in 1497, then St. Donatian in Bruges in 1498. He would appear again in Antwerp in 1501.

  23. 23. Ibid.

  24. 24. Ibid. Obrecht resigned from his post at St. Donatian in Bruges due to illness in September 1500.

  25. 25. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 5–6. Jan van der Stock, ed., Antwerp: Story of a Metropolis, 16th–17th Century (Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju, 1993).

  26. 26. Dan Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp, 1460–1560: Our Lady’s Pand.” Art Bulletin 72, no. 4 (1990): 560 (https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762.

  27. 27. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 6.

  28. 28. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 558. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  29. 29. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 563. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  30. 30. Ewing, “Marketing Art in Antwerp,” 563. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

  31. 31. Philipp Félix Rombouts and Théodore François Xavier van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven der Antwerpsche sint Lucasgilde . . . Antwerp: Koninck, 1864.

  32. 32. “Dit jaer so vercreghen dese Regeerders voerscreven den ersten brief ende insettinghe van den Broederscap van Onser Liever Vrouwen vij Ween, die ghehouden wort in Sinte Lucas capelle, in Onser Liever Vrouwen kerke t’Antwerpen.” (Rombouts and Van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven, 43–51).

  33. 33. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 295. It is at this time in 1495 that Obrecht most likely wrote his Inter preclarissimas virtutes in honor of Alexander VI.

  34. 34. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 295.

  35. 35. Wegman, Born for the Muses, 298.

  36. 36. Rombouts and Van Lerius, De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven, 43.

  37. 37. Franchoys Fickaert, Metamorphosis, or the Wonderful Transformation and Life of the Revered Mr. Quinten Matsys (Antwerp, 1648), and Alexander, van Fornenbergh, The Antwerp Proteus or the Cyclopean Apelles, that is the Life and Artful Deeds of the Exceptional and the Esteemed Mr. Quinten Massys, Transformed from Smith into Fine Painter (Antwerp, 1658). For the larger context of such origin myths as a form of praise for artists, see Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), esp. 13–60. The formative role these early biographical sources played in defining an Antwerp art tradition is discussed in Zirka Zaremba Filipczak, Picturing Art in Antwerp 1550–1700 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 57, 145-46.

  38. 38. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys. Max J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting: VII, trans. Heinz Norden (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971).

  39. 39. Hand, Metzger, and Spronk, Prayers and Portraits, 116–20, no. 16.

  40. 40. Friedlander, Early Netherlandish Painting, 34.

  41. 41. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, pl. 143.

  42. 42. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, pl. 138. The date of this work, 1509, is inscribed on a piece of paper within the sitter’s grasp. This date along with a Jerusalem cross documents a completed pilgrimage to the Holy Land by the sitter.

  43. 43. A similar piece of paper appears in the hand of Pieter Gillis in the original pendant panel (private collection) of the “Friendship Diptych,” see Hand, Metzger, and Spronk, Prayers and Portraits, 116–20. Its inscription reads “V[iro] Il[lus]trissimo Petro/Egidio Amico charissimo/Anverpiae [or Anverpiis]” (To the most [lettered?] man Peter Gillis my very dear friend in Antwerp), and thus identifies the sitter within the picture. See Lorne Campbell, Miguel Falomir, Jennifer Fletcher, and Luke Syson, Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery, 2008), 168–69, no. 42.

  44. 44. See the range of Netherlandish portraits before Metsys in Lorne Campbell, “Memling and the Netherlandish Portrait Tradition,” in Borchert et al., Memling’s Portraits, 49–67.

  45. 45. Infrared reflectogram mosaic kindly provided by the Art Institute of Chicago.

  46. 46. These strokes do not run the length of Obrecht’s hair but only begin a few centimeters before they cross his hair line onto his forehead.

  47. 47. These details have also been noted in the recently discovered Bradford-on-Avon/Tadgell panels now attributed as early Metsys works. Kiffy Stainer-Hutchins, Simon Watney, and Hugo Platt. “A Rediscovered Prototype by Quinten Metsys: ‘ Christ Blessing with the Virgin in Adoration,’” Burlington Magazine 152, no. 1283 (2010): 76–81 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/40601515).

  48. 48. This piece of paper and year was initially noted at the Kimbell Art Museum by Bart Devolder, Assistant Paintings Conservator, in 2012.

  49. 49. It is important to note that the obscured first initial may be a “Q.”

  50. 50. See note 43 above.

  51. 51. See note 41 above.

  52. 52. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 148, pl. 182.

  53. 53. Silver, Paintings of Quinten Massys, 229–30.

Bibliography

Barker, Emma, Nick Webb, and Kim Woods. The Changing Status of the Artist. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with The Open University, 1999.

Borchert, Till-Holger, Maryan Wynn Ainsworth, Lorne Campbell, and Paula Nuttall. Memling’s Portraits. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005.

Campbell, Lorne, Miguel Falomir, Jennifer Fletcher, and Luke Syson. Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian. Exh. cat. London: National Gallery, 2008.

Ewing, Dan. “Marketing Art in Antwerp, 1460–1560: Our Lady’s Pand.” Art Bulletin 72, no. 4 (1990): 558–84. https://doi.org/10.2307/3045762

Fickaert, Franchoys. Metamorphosis, or the Wonderful Transformation and Life of the Revered Mr. Quinten Matsys. Antwerp, 1648.

Filipczak, Zirka Zaremba. Picturing Art in Antwerp 1550–1700. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Fornenbergh, Alexander van. The Antwerp Proteus or the Cyclopean Apelles, that is the Life and Artful Deeds of the Exceptional and the Esteemed Mr. Quinten Massys, Transformed from Smith into Fine Painter. Antwerp, 1658.

Friedländer, Max J. Early Netherlandish Painting: VII. Translated by Heinz Norden. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Hand, John Oliver, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk. Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Kris, Ernst, and Otto Kurz. Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.

Rombouts, Philipp Félix, and Théodore François Xavier van Lerius. De Liggeren en andere historische Archieven der Antwerpsche sint Lucasgilde . . . Antwerp: Koninck, 1864.

Silver, Larry. The Paintings of Quinten Massys with Catalogue Raisonné. Montclair, N.J.: Allanheld & Schram, 1984.

Stainer-Hutchins, Kiffy, Simon Watney, and Hugo Platt. “A Rediscovered Prototype by Quinten Metsys: ‘Christ Blessing with the Virgin in Adoration.’” Burlington Magazine 152, no. 1283 (2010): 76–81 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/40601515).

Stock, Jan van der, ed. Antwerp: Story of a Metropolis. Exh. cat. Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju, 1993.

Vos, Dirk de, Dominique Marechal, Willy Le Loup, and Maryan W. Ainsworth. Hans Memling. Ghent: Ludion, 1994.

Vos, Dirk de, and Maryan Wynn Ainsworth. Hans Memling: Essays. Ghent: Ludion, 1994.

Wegman, Rob C. Born for the Muses: The Life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.

Rob C. Wegman. “Obrecht, Jacob.” Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online). Oxford University Press, accessed July 31, 2017, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com.ezproxy.tcu.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/20231

Imprint

Review: Peer Review (Double Blind)
DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.2.1
License:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Recommended Citation:
Rafael Barrientos Martinez, Larry Silver, "Metsys’s Musician: A Newly Recognized Early Work," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 10:2 (Summer 2018) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.2.1