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)
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
Oeuvre and Patrons
The Anchin Polyptych
Similar patrons, similar commissions
Preliminary Observations on Materials and Working Methods
Panels and framesCHAPTER IV
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 FlinesCHAPTER V
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 devotionCHAPTER VI Self-Representation and Piety for the Here and the Hereafter: Abbot William of Brussels and the Triptych of the Annunciation
The abbess as exemplar
William of Brussels as a patronCHAPTER VII Painting as a Moral Compass: Triptych of the Last Judgment
Function and location
The Last Judgment, the Four Last Things, and visions of heaven and hellCHAPTER VIII Civic Duty, Charitable Giving, and the Wish to Be Commemorated: The Pottier Triptych and the Pottier Family
Function and audience
Reviewing the archival evidence
Iconography and meaning
Scenes of the life of Saint Anne, demi-grisaille, and the reality of giving