Over de betekenis van het werk van Jan van Scorel omstreeks 1530 voor oudere en jongere tijdgenoten (4)

in Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries
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From 1911 to 1961 Félix Chrétien, secretary to François de Dinteville II, Bishop of Auxerre in Burgundy, and from 1542 onwards a canon in that town, was thought to be the author of three remarkable paintings. Two of these were mentioned by an 18th-century local historian as passing for his work: a tripych dated 1535 on the central panel with scenes from the legend of St. Eugenia, which is now in the parish church at Varzy (Figs. 1-3, cf. Note 10), and a panel dated 1550 with the Martyrdom of St. Stephen in the ambulatory of Auxerre Cathedral. To these was added a third work, a panel dated 1537 with Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, which is now in New York (Figs. 4-5, cf. Notes I and 3). All three works contain a portrait of François de Dinteville, who is accompanied in the Varzy triptych and the New York panel (where he figures as Aaron) by other portrait figures. In the last-named picture these include his brothers) one of whom , Jean de Dinteville, is well-known as the man who commissioned Holbein's Ambassadors in 1533. Both the Holbein and Moses and Aaron remained in the family's possession until 1787. In order to account for the striking affinity between the style of this artist and that of Netherlandish Renaissance painters, Jan van Scorel in particular, Anthony Blunt posited a common debt to Italy, assuming that the painter accompanied François de Dinteville on a mission to Rome in 1531-3 (Note 4). Charles Sterling) on the other hand, thought of Netherlandish influence on him (Note 5). In 1961 Jacques Thuillier not only stressed the Northern features in the artist's style, especially in his portraits and landscape, but also deciphered Dutch words in the text on a tablet depicted in the Varzy triptych (Fig. I) . He concluded that the artist was a Northerner himself and could not possibly have been identical with Félix Chrétien (Note 7). Thuillier's conclusion is borne out by the occurrence of two coats of arms on the church depicted in the Varzy triptych (Fig. 2), one of which is that of a Guild of St. Luke, the other that of the town of Haarlem. The artist obviously wanted it to be known that he was a master in the Haarlem guild. Unfortunately, the Haarlem guild archives provide no definite clue as to his identity. He may conceivably have been Bartholomeus Pons, a painter from Haarlem, who appears to have visited Rome and departed again before 22 June 15 18, when the Cardinal of S. Maria in Aracoeli addressed a letter of indulgence to him (without calling him a master) care of a master at 'Tornis'-possibly Tournus in Burgundy (Note 11). The name of Bartholomeus Pons is further to be found in a list of masters in the Haarlem guild (which starts in 1502, but gives no further dates, Note 12), while one Bartholomeus received a commission for painting two altarpiece wings and a predella for Egmond Abbey in 1523 - 4 (Note 13). An identification of the so-called Félix Chrétien with Batholomeus Pons must remain hypothetical, though there are a number of correspondences between the reconstructed career of the one and the fragmentary biography of the other. The painter's work seems to betray an early training in a somewhat old-fashioned Haarlem workshop, presumably around 1510. He appears to have known Raphael's work in its classical phase of about 1515 - 6 and to have been influenced mainly by the style of the cartoons for the Sistine tapestries (although later he obviously also knew the Master of the Die's engravings of the story of Psyche of about 1532, cf .Note 8). His stylistic development would seem to parallel that of Jan van Scorel, who was mainly influenced by the slightly later Raphael of the Loggie. This may explain the absence of any direct borrowings from Scorel' work. It would also mean that a more or less Renaissance style of painting was already being practised in Haarlem before Scorel's arrival there in 1527. Thuillier added to the artist's oeuvre a panel dated 1537 in Frankfurt- with the intriguing scene of wine barrels being lowered into a cellar - which seems almost too sophisticated to be attributed to the same hand as the works in Varzy and New York, although it does appear to come from the same workshop (Fig. 6, Note 21). A portrait of a man, now in the Louvre, was identified in 197 1 as a fragment of a work by the so-called Félix Chrétien himself (Fig. 8, Note 22). The Martyrdom of St. Stephen of 1550 was rejected by Thuillier because of its barren composition and coarse execution. Yet it seems to have too much in common with the other works to be totally separated, from them and may be taken as evidence that the workshop was still active at Auxerre in 1550.

Over de betekenis van het werk van Jan van Scorel omstreeks 1530 voor oudere en jongere tijdgenoten (4)

in Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries


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