Book Series Me Fecit, vol. 11

Jean Bellegambe (c. 1470-1535/36)

Making, Meaning and Patronage of his Works

Anna Koopstra

  • Pages: 160 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:10 b/w, 105 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57437-0
  • Hardback
  • Available

Karel van Manderprijs 2023
(Vereniging van Nederlandse Kunsthistorici (VNK))


“(…) thanks to Anna Koopstra, we now have a useful, updated study of Bellegambe’s life, working methods, and approaches to iconographic sources upon which to build.”
Andrea Pearson, in Historians of  Netherlandish Art Reviews, May 2023

"The book by Anna Koopstra about Jean Bellegambe adds an extremely careful, thorough, and beautifully produced study to the monographs on early Dutch painters. (...) More traditional art historical research—iconographic, stylistic, archival, and historiographic—is combined with modern technical research and a keen eye for drawings and graphics as visual sources for the artist. (…)  The beautifully produced and clearly written book represents excellent and versatile art historical research that, through in-depth analysis of a small group of characteristic artworks, offers a new perspective on an important artist, his work and methods, as well as the impact of that distinctive body of work."
Drs. Lidewij de Koekkoek (VNK, Frans Hals Museum) - Jury President - 2023 Karel van Manderprijs


Anna Koopstra (1980) studied art history at the University of Groningen (MA, 2004) and obtained her doctorate from the Courtauld Institute of Art (PhD, 2016). She has held curatorial positions and research fellowships at the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum (2005-08), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Slifka interdisciplinary Fellow, 2008-10), The National Gallery (2015-17), and the Courtauld (Associate Caroline Villers Research Fellow, 2016/17). Her research focuses on the technical investigation of paintings, and in particular on the making and meaning of early Netherlandish paintings.


Jean Bellegambe (c. 1470- 1535/36), whose career as far as we know spanned the first three decades of the sixteenth century, was a successful painter. His patrons included some of the most high-ranking clerics in the Habsburg-Burgundian Netherlands as well as members of the ruling class of Douai, the town where he lived and worked all his life.

This is the first study to appear since Dehaisnes' 1890 monograph that is exclusively devoted to the artist. By reassessing primary evidence - archival documents and material evidence from the works of art themselves - it aims to highlight Bellegambe's artistic achievements. Close scrutiny of his paintings and investigation of the artist's working methods will show that Bellegambe visualised the concerns of his patrons by closely linking the physical characteristics of his works to their original imagery, function and use.

This volume presents a series of five case studies of his works that were made for a monastic community, two individual clerics, a town hall and a bourgeois layman, thus providing rich evidence of patronage and audiences. The objective here is to examine how Bellegambe met the challenges posed by these commissions, and to gain further insight into the practice of a skilled artist who - rooted in a long line of craftsmanship and artistic tradition and in close collaboration with his colleagues and patrons - produced a body of highly original works.




The Artist’s Life and Career



Posthumous legacy


Oeuvre and Patrons

The Anchin Polyptych

Similar patrons, similar commissions

Other works


Preliminary Observations on Materials and Working Methods

Panels and frames

Underdrawing and painting technique

Technical evidence and questions of attribution



Jean Bellegambe and the Convent of Flines: Reconsidering The Cellier Altarpiece

Monastic reform and the convent of Flines

The evolution of the composition

Interpreting the iconographic program

Location, audience, date


Clerical Devotion and the Monastic Milieu: The Diptych of the Virgin and Child with Saint Bernard and an Unidentified Cistercian Monk

The Virgin and child as an object of clerical devotion

The abbess as exemplar


Self-Representation and Piety for the Here and the Hereafter: Abbot William of Brussels and the Triptych of the Annunciation

William of Brussels as a patron

Function and location


Painting as a Moral Compass: Triptych of the Last Judgment

The Last Judgment, the Four Last Things, and visions of heaven and hell

Function and audience


Civic Duty, Charitable Giving, and the Wish to Be Commemorated: The Pottier Triptych and the Pottier Family

Reviewing the archival evidence

Iconography and meaning

Scenes of the life of Saint Anne, demi-grisaille, and the reality of giving





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