Cornelis Engebrechtsz (c. 1460/62-1527) was the first major Leiden painter to whom works can be attributed with certainty. These include a Lamentation Triptych from c. 1508 and a Crucifixion Triptych, probably executed a decade later, both of which were made for the Mariënpoel Convent near Leiden and now in Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden. These monumental triptychs display the influence of the dynamic style and palette of the Antwerp Mannerists, including splendid gold brocades. On the basis of the documented works by Engebrechtsz, not more than a dozen paintings and some fragments can be attributed to the master himself, but many more can be connected to his workshop that was specialized in devotional works. Engebrechtsz ‘s pupils include his three sons. In addition, Engebrechtsz most likely was the second teacher, around 1508, of Lucas van Leyden and from c. 1515 he trained Aertgen Claesz, better known as Aertgen van Leyden. Although his three sons must have played an important role in the workshop, it has so far proved difficult to associate specific paintings with them. The attribution questions are further complicated by the large group of paintings, formerly attributed to the Antwerp master Jan (Wellensz) de Cock (c. 1470-1521), and now usually attributed to Engebrechtsz’s sons or more generally to his workshop.
Using as a point of departure the research by Walter Gibson on Engebrechtsz and his workshop, published in 1977, the present volume also draws upon the subsequent technical investigation of many of the paintings. The spectacular underdrawings revealed with infrared reflectography has given better insight in the working methods of the artist and his workshop. Moreover, the study of the gold brocaded velvets by Esther van Duijn clarifies his use of a variety of patterns, while Peter Klein’s dendrochronological examination of the panels helps in determining a chronology of the oeuvre. All this makes it possible to characterize more clearly Engebrechtsz’s stylistic development, his workshop production and the different hands involved.
Furthermore, the present volume is enhanced by documented biographies of Engebrechtsz and his sons Pieter Cornelisz (c. 1490-1560/61), Cornelis Cornelisz (c. 1493-1546) and Lucas Cornelisz (c. 1495-before July 1552). The known archival documents are complemented by an abundance of unpublished documents, richly enhancing our insight into the lifes, careers and personalities of this family of artists.