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Author: Joanna Woodall
'Painting contains a divine force which not only makes the absent present, as friendship is said to do, but moreover makes the dead seem almost alive.' Taking up Alberti's connection between divine power, mimesis and friendship, this study explores the artistry of the Utrecht portrait specialist Anthonis Mor. It considers Mor's work in relation to reformation debates, and to the challenges to dynastic authority that took place during his lifetime, tracing the breakdown and transformation of belief in 'friendship' or love as a means of binding abstract authority and the embodied world together. Although Mor succeeded Titian as principal portraitist to the Habsburgs, his ambition was not limited to portrayal in a narrow sense. His work enters into dialogue with the elevated conceptions of the artist being enunciated by his humanist friends, and with devotional and allegorical imagery. The book brings Mor's arresting vision to a wider public and reveals its centrality to a broader understanding of how authority was conceived and reshaped in the sixteenth-century. previously published as hardback with isbn 9789040084218.
Author: Joanna Woodall


The Great Hercules was published by Hendrick Goltzius in the city of Haarlem at a decisive moment in the revolt of the Netherlands against their Habsburg sovereign, Philip II of Spain. The huge engraving appeared on the eve of the renowned printmaker’s departure for Italy, where he would encounter and study the antique statues to which his print alludes. According to his friend, Karel van Mander, Goltzius took copies of the engraving with him on his journey and discussed it with a fellow artist. This chapter describes the kinds of knowledge available to the work’s initial viewers. They may, for example, have read Hercules Prodicius, an allegorical travelogue and mirror for princes published in Antwerp by the antiquarian Stephanus Vinandus Pighius in 1587. Noting how art historians have tried to contain and stabilize the wayward figure by recourse to traditional methodologies such as iconology and the construction of an Author, the chapter points out the mobile and expansive aspects of The Great Hercules. This ‘monstrous’ overdetermination is related to the phenomenon of aporia, in which internal contradictions generate a state of confusion comparable to that of Hercules at the Crossroads. Aporia, according to Aristotle, was the initial impulse to philosophical thought. The chapter suggests that the marvelousness, and monstrosity, of The Great Hercules lie in its aporetic capacity to mobilise its viewers to wonder and think about masculine virtue by offering multiple, contradictory paths, and challenging them to find a way among them. In doing so, the image can be seen to force or facilitate a re-charting of the masculine subject for the ‘new world’ that was incipient in 1589.

In: The Exemplary Hercules from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and Beyond
Author: Joanna Woodall

This contribution focuses on a superb Dutch wine glass or roemer engraved by Maria Roemers Visscher (‘Tesselschade’) with the Latin motto, Sic Soleo Amicos (‘Thus am I accustomed to treat friends’). Roemers’ roemer is shown actively to have participated in a coterie of cultured men and women initially centred on her father Roemer Pieterszoon Visscher, whose friendly gatherings in the 1610s were animated by wine, song, emblems, poetry and comic and satirical literature. The roemer’s inscription characterises it as a speaking subject within this milieu and evokes the intersubjective character of friendships that were enacted through puns, metaphors, ironic wit and at times amorous play. The performance of mixed friendship through the gendered artistic practice of glass-engraving is compared with the pleasurable game of connecting word and image in emblems. Such activities both gave rein to, and reined in, embodied friendships between elite women and men within a pleasure-loving yet patriarchal society.

In: Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art / Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek Online
Author: Joanna Woodall

Joanna Woodall: De wisselaer. Quentin Matsys’s Man weighing gold coins and his wife, 1514

In: Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art / Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek Online
In: Ut pictura amor
In: Ad vivum?
Envisioning the Artist in the Early Modern Netherlands / Het beeld van de kunstenaar in de vroegmoderne Nederlanden
The early modern period is defined, in part, by the emergence of the artist as a distinctive kind of human subject. This volume is concerned with images and discourses of the artist in the Netherlands from the late 15th century until the mid 17th century, when the relationship between a community of craftsman and elite individuals, between consciousness of a native tradition and membership of international humanist society, between image and word, between hand, mind and spirit, were being actively negotiated. Discussions of architects, painter-poets and copyists critically engage with the Netherlandish artist’s identification with ail painting, which became ever-closer during this period. Contributions in which self-portraits, images of the studio and art literature are related tot the practices, behavior and economic lives of a range of practitioners, provide new insights into the artist not only as a producer but a figure produced by his work.