Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jill Krementz covers Jan Gossart's Renaissance

Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures
Jan Gossart's Renaissance
October 6th, 2010-January 17th, 2011
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jan Gossart is the early Netherlandish painter most often credited with successfully assimilating Italian Renaissance style into northern European art of the early sixteenth century.

Gossart was born in Maubeuge, today in Northern France, in about 1478. Mabuse is the Dutch name for Maubeuge, hence the sobriquet of the artist.

The Flemish master was among the first northern artists to travel to Rome to make copies after antique sculpture, and to introduce historical and mythological subjects with erotic crude figures into the mainstream of Netherlandish painting.

Maryan Ainsworth, Curator in the Met's Department of European Paintings, has curated this splendid exhibition. It took three years and much collaboration with many museums around the world. A smaller version of the exhibit will move on to London's National Gallery.
Maryan Ainsworth, the curator of the exhibition, at the entrance to the Jan Gossart Galleries.
Portrait of Jan Gossart.
View of second of eight galleries. Jan Gossart was among the first northern artists to travel to Rome to make copies after antique sculptures and monuments. In order to consider Gossart within his artistic milieu, many of these works are on view.
On the wall is a Reproduction of Maarten van Heemskerck's drawing of The Sculpture Court of the Casa Sassi in Rome, 1532-37; Pen and brown ink, brown wash.
Marble Portrait Bust of a Man Right Foot Wearing a Sandal
Attributed to Antonello Gagini
ca. 1507-9
Bronze, traces of gilding

Among the most popular, frequently copied antique statues in Rome, the Spinario (ca. 1st century B.C.) was known by the twelfth century at the Lateran Palace, once called the Palace of the Popes. It formed part of Pope Sixtus IV’s gift in 1471 of the Lateran bronzes to the Palazzo dei Conservatori, where Gossart saw and copied it. The present work, attributed to the Sicilian sculptor Gagini, is a close copy of the original made about the same time that Gossart would have studied it himself.
Jan Gossart and Gerard David
The Malvagna Triptych, ca. 1513
oil on panel

recto: Virgin and Child with Musical Angels and Saints Catherine and Dorothy.
verso: The Malvagna family coat of arms with Adam and Eve on the wings.
The Norfolk Triptych, ca. 1528-30
center: Virgin and Child
wings: Portraits of Two Donors
Oil on oak panel

Although today there is an incongruity in dimensions between the fragmentary center panel and the intact wings as well as differences in the scale of the figures, originally they likely formed a triptych. Together, the space of the center panel and the right wing form one continuous room. The left wing does not relate to the center panel in the same way. A possible explanation is that the male donor is still part of our world while his wife has passed away, and thus inhabits the same realm as the Virgin and her son. That the donor wings had a memorial function is confirmed by the verses written on pieces of paper "pasted" onto the painted imitation marble backsides of the panels with blotches of red wax.
The Carondelet Diptych, 1517
Oil on oak panel

Extraordinary for its realism and skillful execution, this diptych is widely recognized as a masterpiece of early Netherlandish portraiture. Signed and dated, it shows Gossart's most individualistic portrayal of Jean Carondelet, the noted cleric and statesman. The Virgin and Child are also shown as actual human beings--very different from the idealized types Gossart usually painted--and might be based on contemporary individuals. The Latin text on the frames identifies Carondelet and his supplications to the Virgin to present him to the Christ Child.
The Canondelet Diptych, 1517
Oil on oak panel

The reverse of the donor panel shows Carondelet's coat of arms, interlaced initials, and personal motto (MATVRA). The remarkably realistic skull in the adjacent panel is, like the accompanying text, the reminder of the inevitability of death and the fragility of life. The preparatory sketch of the skull, probably based on direct observation, indicates that the artist paid considerable attention to this motif in order to achieve a high degree of accuracy.
Left: Conrad Meit
German, ca. 1480-ca.1550
Lucretia, 1500-1515

Conrad Meit, court sculptor to Margaret of Austria in Mechelen, and Gossart shared an interest both in mythological themes and the sheer pleasure of depicting the movement of three-dimensional figures in space. Both artists, likewise, lavished attention on surface details and created remarkable verisimilitude in their rendering of various textures.

Right: Jan Gossart
Venus and Cupid, 1521
oil on panel

Venus restrains her son from pulling an arrow from his quiver and shooting it into an unwitting god or mortal, thus inciting a love affair. This painting is the only one by Gossart that remains intact, with both its external and internal frames. The external frame, with the ironic commentary on the suppression of desire, could be removed for viewers who wished to enjoy the work solely for its more erotic content.
A Women’s Bath
ca. 1520-25
Pen and brown ink, over black chalk, squared in black chalk

Eight women are gathered in a bathroom, revealing their beauty but unaware of anyone who might be spying on them. Paintings of sensual subjects were highly valued by Gossart’s patron, Philip of Burgundy; though no related work is known, this sheet was probably made as a model for such a painting. The sparseness of the drawing style, which emphasizes the outlines of the figures and displays only minimal hatching, is comparable to the underdrawing in several paintings by Gossart datable to the early 1520s that were based on transferred cartoons. The pose of the seated woman at left is derived from the Spinario, the Hellenistic sculpture that Gossart drew in Rome in 1509, while the back of the standing figure at right is borrowed from an engraving by Marco da Ravenna. Some of the other figures were probably also inspired by diverse works of art, explaining the impression the drawing gives of a collage of isolated figures absorbed in their own activities.
Adam and Eve
Albrecht Dürer
Engraving; fourth state of five

This famous print by Albrecht Dürer served as direct inspiration for Gossart’s painting in Madrid. Dürer depicted the first woman and man in symmetrical, idealized poses. Adam and Eve represents the culmination of the artist’s nearly four-year study of these two figures based on an ideal system of proportions and on such classical models as the Apollo Belvedere (Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican). Dürer’s superb mastery of the engraving technique is apparent in the distinctively rendered textures of human and snake skin, animal fur, and tree bark and leaves.
Adam and Eve
ca. 1510
Gossart and an Anonymous Landscape Painter
Oil on panel

Gossart followed the model of Albrecht Dürer’s famous 1504 engraving for his earliest painting of Adam and Eve, a theme that would preoccupy him during his thirty-year career. He assimilated the German artist’s system of ideal proportions for the figures but changed the classical heads into more accessible, contemporary likenesses. This work precedes those which Gossart explored the erotic nature of the relationship between the first couple. Here, Eve has just sinned by picking the forbidden fruit form the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Adam points to the branch overhead where the fruit has withered and the leaves shriveled in response to Eve’s act. Gossart exchanged the dense, animal-populated forest in Dürer’s print for a clearing at the edge of the woods near a small pond with plant life, shells and coral. The landscape was probably painted by a specialist in that genre.
Barbara Hoffman from The New York Post. Ms. Hoffman writes about art and edits the music and theater section. Her column, "In My Library," is in the Sunday paper. Harold Holzer, the Met's Senior Vice President for External Affairs.
View of one of the eight galleries devoted to Jan Gossart.
Virgin and Child
ca. 1522
Oil on panel

This utterly human portrayal of mother and child is enhanced by Gossart’s extraordinary ability to render the tactile qualities of flesh, fabrics, and even the Virgin’s pearl headband. The devotional text added somewhat later around the curved top of the painting and Mary’s trailing veil are hardly visible because their color values have shifted naturally over time; the paint has become more transparent and now blends into the dark background. Remarkably, this painting retains its original engaged frame, painted to simulate veined marble.
Virgin and Child
ca. 1525
Oil on panel

The image of the Virgin and Child surrounded by the brilliance of the sun's rays was linked to a specific devotion popular in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in the Low Countries. It was associated with the Ave Sanctissima prayer and the doctrine supported by Pope Sixtus IV of the Immaculate Conception, which claimed that the Virgin was conceived without original sin. The Christ Child holds an apple in reference to the sin committed by Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In his role as the "new Adam" and redeemer of humankind, Christ raises his hand in blessing toward a donor portrait (now lost). Both monumental in form--the figures virtually burst out of their tightly cropped space--and exquisitely refined in the rendering of textural details, this panel is one of Gossart's finest late works.
Virgin and Child
ca. 1527
Oil on panel

For this Virgin and Child, Gossart emphasized the sensuous nature of the intimate embrace of the figures. He based the pose on Italian examples such as Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna or Lucca della Robbia’s many glazed terracottas of the Virgin and Child in a niche that he may have seen as he passed through Florence on his way to Rome in 1508. Gossart emphasized his sculptural approach by placing the highly volumetric figures in an architectural niche. The stark white flesh tones of the figures were densely worked up with lead-white paint to approximate the surface sheen of polished marble.
Virgin and Child
1532 (?)
Oil On Panel

As the Virgin of Humility, Mary sits close to the ground on an ornate throne. She reaches up to offer an apple to the Christ Child, alluding to his role as the "new Adam" and savior of humankind. Seemingly caught by surprise, he struggles to keep his balance and adopts a pose with outstretched arms, which refers to his eventual crucifixion. Mary turns to address us, prompting the reading of the devotional book oriented in the direction of the viewer. Occupying almost half the composition, the Virgin's robe is like a great unruly sea of ultramarine blue. As Albrecht Dürer noted on his trip to the Netherlands in 1520-21, this coveted pigment made from lapis lazuli was available in Antwerp but was as costly as gold. The palatial setting of the composition and the extravagant use of this pigment suggest a courtly commission.
Signed and dated one year before Gossart's death, this painting reveals Mary in a contemplative mood and pose that relate to the text at the top and bottom borders of the original portions of the frame. Translated from the Latin it reads, "Mother, may your contemplation be our reconciliation." These would be the words spoken by the supplicant presumably poised in prayer in the right half of the diptych (now lost) that included this painting. Such words recognize the Virgin's intercessory role in seeking redemption for sinful humanity through Christ. Gossart was influenced by Dürer for the poses of his Virgin and Child--specifically Dürer's 1921 drawing for the Ninety-Three-Year-Old Man (Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna) and perhaps his 1512 Virgin and Child with the Pear. The bucolic landscape was provided by a specialist.
  Attributed to Jan Gossart and An Anonymous
Landscape Painter
Virgin and Child, 1531
Oil on panel
Based on passages in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, this painting depicts Christ after his interrogation by Pilate, when he was taken to a room, stripped of his robe, and crowned with thorns. His tormenters offered him a reed as a scepter and mocked him, “Hail, King of the Jews.” Gossart conveys the poignancy of the moment through Christ’s sensitive expression as he looks heavenward in an appeal to God the Father. Rather than the menacing characters based on Leonardo da Vinci’s exaggerated types that are usually shown, Gossart portrayed figures of profound ignorance and awe in the presence of the Savior.

Long ignored, the recently cleaned and restored painting has only now been recognized as Gossart’s original from which many reduced copies (some dated 1527) were made. The popularity of the composition must have been due in part to the remarkably muscular body of Christ, which was derived from the famous first-century Roman marble the Belvedere Torso, which Gossart saw during his trip to Rome in 1508-9.
Christ on the Cold Stone
Oil on panel
Christ on the Cold Stone
ca. 1530
Oil on panel

Compared to the Budapest Christ on the Cold Stone where Christ is the embodiment of patience and resignation to his imminent sacrifice on the cross, this Christ is the melancholy hero who expresses the depth of his anguish. Utterly alone, he contemplates his dilemma, the column behind him indicating where he will be bound and thrashed and the long, decoratively displayed cloth draped over his thighs suggesting the shroud that will be used to wrap his body after the crucifixion.

Although the work is ultimately based on the Belvedere Torso, (above, right), Gossart may have refreshed his memory of the Roman sculpture through widely circulated prints such as Raimondi's signed and dated 1508 engraving Mara, Venus, and Eros. Christ's taut, exaggerated musculature and pose bear a striking resemblance to Raimondi's Mars.
Virgin and Child
The painting on the left is attributed to Gossart. The painting on the right is attributed to another painter but not a specific one, hence the caption on it reads After Jan Gossart.
The Deesis (Virgin Mary, Christ Blessing, and Saint John the Baptist)
ca. 1525-30
Oil on paper attached to panel, oil and gilding on panel
The Deposition
ca. 1525
Oil on panel, transferred to canvas

This Deposition can no longer be linked with the wings from The Salamanca Triptych. In fact, it is not certain whether The Deposition had wings or was always an independent panel, as some copies suggest. The attribution has vacillated between Bernard van Orley and Gossart, but the active composition, meticulous attention to materials and textures, and sculptural treatment of the contorted figures confirm Gossart’s authorship. The skull, in particular, bears a close resemblance to the one on the reverse of The Carondelet Diptych. Van Orley and Gossart relied on some of the same visual sources—Mantegna’s engravings and Raphael’s designs for the Acts of the Apostles tapestry woven in Brussels—which may account for the confusion over authorship. Gossart was also inspired by Van Orley’s designs for tapestries of the Descent from the Cross and the Crucifixion, dating between 1518 and 1524; the latter emphasizes Van Orley’s assimilation of the new Romanism.
The Deposition, ca 1525
Oil on panel, transferred to canvas
Two Wings from The Salamanca Triptych, 1521
exterior: Annunciation
interior: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Peter
Oil on panel
Two Wings from The Salamanca Triptych, 1521
exterior: Annunciation
interior: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Peter
Oil on panel
Catalogue from show on display in a room adjacent to the seventh gallery: Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance. Non-Member Price: $75.00; Member Price: $67.50.

In this same room is a video projection. You will have the opportunity to sit down and hear many of those who worked on this show talk about their research and the restoration process on various works.
Maryan Ainsworth, the curator of the exhibition.
Michael Gallagher, head of the Met's Department of Painting Conservation.
Mary Magdalen, ca. 1506-8
Oil on oak panel

The golden unguent jar and splendid attire identify this young woman as Mary Magdalen. Her delicate individualized facial features as well as the style and composition of the work suggest it may be a portrait. Such disguised portraits became popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, especially among the noblewomen associated with the court who wished to identify with the saint's virtuous character. Although largely ignored in the past, this recently cleaned and restored painting is stylistically similar to works that Gossart made early in his career.
Mary Magdalen, ca. 1530
Oil on oak panel

Conveying a bold sensuality, Mary Magdalen directs a sultry glance at the viewer. The topknot seems to allude to her former lifestyle; it is worn by other sinful women such as Venus and Eve. In stark contrast to the rich color effects of the Magdalen's ravishing attire stands the white, porcelain-like skin of her face and hands, which gives the appearance of a highly polished surface. Gossart became increasingly interested in such deliberate references to marble structure toward the end of his career. Highly stylized and Mannerist, the figure is far removed from Gossart's early depiction of the Magdalen.
Portrait of Anna va Bergen, ca 1525-30
Oil on oak panel

This painting is one of the rare surviving independent portraits of female sitters by Gossart. A drawing of the same woman identifies her as Anna van Bergen, admiral of Zeeland and marquis of Veere. Gossart worked in the service after the death of his long-time patron Philip of Burgundy (Adolf's granduncle) in 1524. Thanks to Van Mander, we know that Gossart depicted Anna at least one other time--with her son, in the guise of the Virgin and Child.
Detail of Portrait of Anna va Bergen.
Jean Carondelet
ca. 1503-8
Oil on oak panel

This portrait is the earlier of the two that Gossart made of Jean Carondelet (1469-1545), a noted Flemish cleric and important government official. It bears the hallmarks of the artist's early style: the tightly cropped composition based on Hans Memling's models; the plain, dark bluish green background; and the traditional pose of the sitter. Rendered in a much less sculptural manner than his later works, it nevertheless already reveals the artist's interest in three-dimensionality--for example, in the prominent, boldly articulated hands. In the paint stage, Gossart deliberately enlarged the hands beyond the initial design in the underdrawing, thereby accentuating Carondelet's presence.
Portrait of a Man
Ca. 1520-25
Oil on oak panel

Although this is the only surviving independent portrait to be signed by Gossart--Joannes Malbodius Pingbat on the scroll--the identity of the sitter is unknown. It has sometimes been suggested that it represents the painter himself, because of the letters IM, presumably for "Joannes Malbodius," fashioned as a hatpin and affixed to the man's beret. However the physiognomy of this sitter is very unlike that of other proposed portraits of Gossart. The Roman capitals may indicate that the sitter is a humanist and could denote the first letters of a humanist device.
Christine Li and Glenna Stewart. Ms. Li was filming for Xinhua TV, a Chinese News Agency. Ms. Stewart works in the Met's press department.
A Man Holding a Glove
ca. 1530
Oil on oak panel

Holding a soft leather glove, this handsomely dressed man confidently looks out at the viewer. His identity remains unknown; the suggestion that he is the Portuguese humanist Damão de Góis has proved untenable. The exceptionally small dimensions of the panel and the presence of drying cracks in the print layers suggest that the portrait was executed relatively quickly. Perhaps the sitter or the painter did not have much time to spare. Nevertheless, Gossart's skill in handling the paint in admirable. The picture was held in considerable esteem, as attested by its provenance; it once belonged to such renowned collections as that of the Gonzagas in Mantua and of King Charles I of England.
Portrait of a Man
ca. 1520-25
Oil on oak panel

Directly addressing the viewer while vividly gesturing with his left hand, the sitter appears ready to speak. He sports a wide-brimmed hat adorned with a badge and three smaller gemstone buttons as well as an open-necked shirt and voluminous coat, comparable to those worn in the Antwerp Portrait of a Man. Possibly the two men shared the same vocation or social status. As his attire is not that of the nobility or the clergy, there is speculation that he could be a well-to-do painter.
Portrait of a Man
ca. 1520-25
Oil on oak panel

After being ignored for decades, this recently restored painting now more clearly reveals details of style and execution that are typical of Gossart. The sculptural quality, pose, and expressiveness of the sitter must, above all, be seen in the context of the work of the court sculptor Conrad Meit. His Head of a Man shows an almost identical approach to the way the head and torso are slightly turned in opposing directions and in the specific modeling of the face. When Gossart was summoned to Mechelen in 1523 to restore some of Margaret of Austria’s paintings, he stayed as a guest at Meit’s house. The portrait probably dates from this period, about 1520-25.
Portrait of an Old Couple, ca. 1525-30
Oil on parchment laid down on canvas
Francisco de los Cobos y Molina
Oil on oak panel

One of Gossart’s last great works, this panel represents him at the peak of his abilities as a portraitist. Francisco de los Cobos y Molina was a high-ranking official at the Spanish court. As a secretary to Emperor Charles V, he visited Flanders in 1530-32; it was probably at that time that he and the artist met. Examination with infrared reflectography and X-radiography reveal that Gossart had originally planned a stone-framed window to the left of the sitter. It was, however, abandoned during the painting process in favor of a considerably grander solution: the vibrant green curtain, a motif not seen elsewhere in Gossart’s oeuvre. De los Cobos himself may have requested it, as he collected Italian paintings, which commonly employ this feature.
Portrait of a Man (Jan Jacobsz. Snoeck?)
ca. 1530
Oil on oak panel

This remarkable well-preserved painting is unparalleled in Gossart’s oeuvre in terms of its ambitious composition and meticulous execution. It has recently been suggested that the man, who looks out at the viewer with a somewhat haughty, self-assured demeanor and is surrounded by a variety of objects pertaining to his daily business, is Jan Jacobsz. Snoeck (1510-1585). Of noble descent, Snoeck held several official functions in the town of Gorinchem and important positions related to the collection of river tolls. Examination with infrared reflectography revealed an unusual amount and variety of preparatory underdrawing, which is not the case in most of Gossart’s portraits. The work was extremely carefully handled, from the ground up to the final painted layers, which indicates the importance of the commission and its undoubtedly high price.
Portrait of a Man (Philip of Burgundy?).
ca. 1520-25
Oil on oak panel

This portrait stands out in Gossart's oeuvre as something of an anomaly, due to its ogee-arched trompe-l'oeil frame and strident blue background, once covered with a red lake glaze (now faded) that would have produced a slightly softer purplish color. The wealth and status of the elegantly dressed man are indicated by the long, heavy gold chain he wears around his neck and by his rings, set with gemstones and an antique cameo head. Although his identity cannot be clearly established, he may well be Philip of Burgundy. If so, then Gossart must have portrayed his long-time patron just before he died in 1524.
The Three Children of Christian II of Denmark
Oil on oak panel

This superb early example of a group portrait of children depicts the offspring of King Christian II of Denmark and his wife, Isabella of Austria: the boy at the center is John (born 1518); the girl at the left is his sister Dorothea (born 1520); and the youngest child, at the right, is Christina (born 1522). The king of Denmark and Gossart were acquainted; when Isabella died in 1526, Christian commissioned the artist to provide the design for her tomb. This triple portrait probably dates from about the same time, as the children appear to be wearing mourning attire for their mother. It may have been commissioned by the king or by Margaret of Austria, who undertook the care of the children after their mother’s death.
This is the girl on left in previous portrait, five years later.

A Young Princess (Dorothea of Denmark?)
ca. 1530
Oil on oak panel

This richly dressed girl is tentatively identified as Dorothea, a daughter of King Christian II of Denmark and his wife, Isabella of Austria. Gossart’s portrait of the couple’s three children was probably executed in 1526. Dorothea, the child at the left, was about five at that time; she appears at least five years older here. She may be pointing to a spot on the armillary sphere that coincides with the latitude of Denmark, her father’s kingdom. The fact that she is holding the sphere (and the world) upside down might then be interpreted as a reference to the tumultuous political circumstances that drove Christian and his family away from their home, into exile, in 1523.
The Holy Family
ca. 1510
Oil on wood

This charming scene of the Holy Family relaxing at the edge of a palace courtyard shows Gossart’s characteristic conflation of Italian Renaissance and late High Gothic styles of architecture—a mix of old and new that strongly appealed to his noble patrons. He probably painted it after his trip to Rome but still in the Antwerp Mannerist mode that he was not in a hurry to abandon. The adjacent drawings show close parallels with the figural style and composition.
This panel, in muted tones of gray, or grisaille, once formed the outside wings of a triptych, the centerpiece of which is Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead of representing the fictive sculptures in a niche, Gossart executed a sequential narrative within a forbidding uninterrupted landscape across two panels. Saint Jerome kneels in prayer before an image of the crucified Christ; nearby are his cardinal’s hat and robe and his companion, the lion.

In the middle ground are episodes from the account of the saint’s life from The Golden Legend: the theft of the donkey and Jerome extracting a thorn from the lion’s paw. The saint’s figure and draperies are as sharply defined and sculpturally rendered as the flinty masses of rock. The thick paint is handled with remarkable versatility and deftness, with virtuoso passages of wet-in-wet brushwork, feathering the strokes to soften contours of forms and scratching to define textures.
Saint Jerome Penitent
ca. 1510
Oil on panel
Details from Saint Jerome Penitent
Art critic Jason Kaufman studies:
Virgin and Child with the Veil

ca. 1529
Oil on panel

"This is the kind of intelligent and beautiful exhibtion that makes the Met one of the great art institutions in the world. It fills out our understanding of an under-recognized old master and conjures an entire period from the past. I particularly enjoy the juxtapositions that show where Gossart made reference to antiquities and to other artists."
Gossart broke with the precedence of early Netherlandish painting when he invented the uncommonly lively attitude of this Christ Child, who plays peek-a-boo with his mother’s veil. The Virgin, on the other hand, prescient of Christ’s sacrifice for mankind, looks on solemnly. The stark white flesh of Mary’s face is due in part to a gray underpainting that produces the cool, opalescent tones approximating the look of polished marble. This technique represents Gossart’s early efforts to adopt a sculptural approach to his paintings, not only in the volumetric forms of the figures, but also in their tonality. This composition was one of Gossart’s most popular, and variations by other painters were produced well into the sixteenth century.
Hermaphroditus and Salmacis
ca. 1517
Oil on panel

As recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the water nymph Salmacis spied the young Hermaphroditus bathing in her lake and was instantly smitten. Hermaphroditus spurned her advances, but the gods granted Salmacis’ wish to be united as one with the object of her desire, and thus Hermaphroditus—male and female beings together—was created. Philip of Burgundy commissioned such mythological paintings from Gossart not only for his own collection but also to give as gifts. This panel was probably the one that Philip gave to Margaret of Austria, which is mentioned in inventories as having decorated her cabinet of curiosities and naturalia near her garden at her palace at Mechelen.
Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
ca. 1510
Oil on panel

In one of the most carefully observed and naturalistic moonlit scenes painted in the early sixteenth century, a youthful Christ kneels in prayer, tearfully contemplating the chalice and host before him—symbols of his imminent sacrifice on the cross. Following the account in Luke 22:40-45, the disciples Peter, John, and James sleep nearby, as the menacing crowd of soldiers advances from the right background to arrest Christ. Fragments of a prayer on the border of Christ’s robe petition God for mercy and ask for guidance in matters of daily life in preparation for the desired heavenly reward of eternal life. The triptych, formed by this painting and the outer wings representing Saint Jerome, likely adorned an altar in a chapel or a church where the Eucharist was celebrated and the prayer was regularly recited.
Lilly Wei and Lisa Rosen. Ms. Wei is an art critic for Art in America magazine. Ms. Rosen runs a company called Fine Art Restoration. Art Critic John Zeaman who writes for the
Bergen Record.

"Gossart does what great artists and writers alike have always done: re-imagined old stories with fresh psychological insight. He's an overlooked master, with his own quirky take on things."
Lidia Guibert Ferrara who is the New York Correspondent for Verve, an Italian monthly magazine published in Milan. In December Verve will change and become Bogart, also a monthly magazine published in Milan. Verve is not online. Maria Escalante.
Design for a Ceiling with Nine Angels Carrying Instruments of the Passion
ca. 1520-24(?)
Pen and brown ink

This design has been connected to the renovation of the castle at Wijk bij Duurstede, the residence of Gossart’s patron Philip of Burgundy after he became bishop of Utrecht. Gossart’s design may refer to a reliquary purported to contain a piece of the True Cross that Philip kept in a chapel there. The ceiling, if it was ever executed, would have been painted to look like sculpture rather than sculpted in relief. Gossart found inspiration for his design in a similar cupola painting in Loreto, Italy, by the fifteenth-century artist Melozzo da Forlì.
Design for the Tomb of Isabella of Austria (Elizabeth of Denmark)
ca. 1526 (or 1527?)
Pen and brown ink, brush and gray ink, purplish gray wash

When Elizabeth, the young queen of Denmark in exile and sister of Emperor Charles V, died in 1526, her husband, Christian II, commissioned Gossart to design a tomb and an epitaph for a church in Ghent, where she was buried. The definitive tomb (destroyed late sixteenth century) was much simpler, and this elegant and elaborate design in Renaissance style must have been the artist’s original project. Its intricateness may have surpassed the ability of the tomb’s sculptors as well as Christian’s financial means, which were depleted by his effort to regain his kingdom. Whereas the reclining figure of the queen is a traditional element of medieval sepulchral monuments, the seated Virtues in the lower register were probably not seen before in Netherlandish art. Gossart may have based them on works by fifteenth-century Italian artists that he could have seen during his trip to Rome in 1508-9.
Portrait of Christian II of Denmark
ca. 1526
Pen and two shades of brown ink, over black chalk

Surprisingly, this sheet is Gossart’s only known drawn portrait, though he must have made sketches after life for his numerous painted portraits. Perhaps executed in chalk, they may have looked rather unfinished to later collectors, who failed to appreciate them as works of art in their own right. The survival of this example might be due to its meticulous execution; it was to be reproduced as a print, and Gossart clearly wanted to offer the engraver as precise a model as possible.

The print was probably made as “propaganda” for the sitter, Christian II, king of Denmark, who had to flee his country after he was deposed in 1523. The prominent place of the coats of arms in Gossart’s composition, which seems to have been based on that of a woodcut portrait of Christian by Lucas Cranach the Elder, clearly state the king’s claim on his lost kingdom. Gossart also made a design of the tomb of Christian’s wife and a portrait of their three children.
Design for a Glass Window with Scenes form the Life of Saint John the Evangelist
ca. 1520s
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, red chalk, squared for transfer in black chalk

Obviously related to an important commission, this design for a monumental glass window depicts (at top) Saint John the Evangelist inspired to write the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse, in exile on the island of Patmos. Below, he is boiled in oil but miraculously survives thanks to his faith in God. The last scene represents the saint at the end of his life, stepping into a grave he dug himself. In the lower part, he is seen flanked by a rooster, holding a coat of arms and a figure of the patron of the window. Gossart received at least one other known commission for a window, but he died before he could fulfill it. This sheet is among the oldest surviving Netherlandish drawings of this kind.
There is a gift shop as you exit the eighth gallery.
Jean Tibbets in the gift shop
Nicely framed Gossart reproductions are available in the gift shop.
Jan Gossart and Gerard David
Virgin and Chlld with Musical Angels and Saints Catherine and Dorothy
(central panel; Malvagna Triptych) ca. 1513-1515
$25 unframed, $195 framed.
Jan Gossart
Sheet with a Study of the "Spinario" and Other Roman Sculptures,
1509 or slightly later
$25 unframed, $195 framed.
Great Christmas cards.
Walter Bernard, graphic designer and artist, buying the watercolor paints in the gift shop. Mr. Bernard is a visual consultant for ESPN.
Maryan Ainsworth, in addition to curating this splendid exhibit, also edited and contributed several essays to the beautiful catalogue.

Not only has Ms. Ainsworth brought together all these great treasures from all over the world, she is one of the Met's most treasured curators.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz; all rights reserved.
My gratitude to Hannah Gold who helped me with typing some of the text blocks accompanying the paintings by Jan Gossart.