Category: Reconquering Burgundy

And it Goes on

Passed the Mot today, hurray. That leaves only taxes as the last annoying thing to take care of before July.

Back to business. I have more or less wrapped up my Rolin research but a couple small things can be added. Above is another, older picture of what is supposed to be cardinal Rolin I came across. Not much likeness, except the pose, the red cloak and the little white dog sitting on it. Given the time difference between both paintings, it can’t be the same dog.

When I was looking through some books regarding something else, I came across a couple van der Goes in a book about tombs in churches in Mechelen. The family seems to have links with the Netherlands. There is not much known about Hugo’s family and he was originally from Gent. Could be wrong but there seems to be some sort of link between the Gent and the Mechelen family. There are also de Goes/Gois in Leuven but they go back to a Portuguese family. Anyway, I haven’t spent much time on this. It falls under the category Trivia.


Jean & the Master of Moulins

The arms of Jean VI Rolin. Ms 116, Autun

I know I said I was done with Hugo van der Goes, but here is one last addition.

The past couple days I have been compiling the results of the research I have done on the Jouster (see earlier post). Most of his biography is fairly clear, except the question whether or not he won the tournament in Valenciennes. First guess would be not, given his background but that’s not what I want to write about today.

I have some additional documentation on him that was on loose photocopies and papers inside an issue of an old 1900s magazine – L’Art Flamand Hollandais – about the French Primitives. The illustrations in the magazine are in black and white and sometimes that way you notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise. This is the case with a picture that is also on the internet page about Jean Hey but in colour.

The picture is a painting of Mary Magdalene by the Master of Moulins, aka Jean Hey (see earlier post).

When I saw this I was immediately reminded of two paintings.

One of them was the part with Etienne Chevalier and St Steven on the Melun dyptich by Jean Fouquet around 1450, because of the stance of the characters:

The second part of that dyptich is the famous Madonna/Agnes Sorel. I’ve always found the Madonna an odd and interesting but not necessarily beautiful painting. The red angels look pretty demonic.

But the first thing that came to mind was the Monforte painting by Hugo van der Goes:

Now if we mirror Mary Magdalene and put her next to the boys in the back:

Jean Hey is said to have been influenced by Hugo or even have been his pupil. Your guess is as good as mine.

But this is only half of it. Some art work done for Jean VI has been attributed to a collaborator or a follower of Jean Bourdichon, one of the top illuminators who was active during the second half 15th century- first quarter of the 16th. The magazine states Bourdichon is close to the Master of Moulins but not in what sense. I haven’t yet looked into the truth of this statement but in any case, the illustration accompanying this claim is a painting of the dauphin, attributed to Jean Bourdichon, which is now attributed to Jean Hay, according to Wikipedia. Another interesting fact is that Jean Bourdichon was a pupil of Jean Fouquet. I’m beginning to see all kind of interesting links forming.

Other work for Jean VI was done by an artist influenced by the master of the chronique scandaleuse (a chronicle about Louis XI). I haven’t looked into possible ties with the artists mentioned before. It’s definitely worth spending more research time on this.


From one virgin to another

Death of the virgin – Hortulus Animae 1517

This is the last post about Hugo van der Goes for now. It’s not even about Hugo directly. I’m through with the book and there is nothing new related to his work and the link with the tournament man to write about for the time being. But it’s a small path towards the next thing I am going to look into, the Medici Virgin by Rogier van der Weyden. I left it on the back burner because I thought it was not so relevant for the quest at first, but after seeing some other similar paintings, there are a few things I want to check before I continue with other things. We received message that the painting atelier won’t reopen before the summer holidays, and we’re still not allowed to do much apart from shopping and some sports, and the library extended the deadline to somewhere end of summer, so there is time.

Back to Virgin number 1. I was leafing through a book looking for a particular picture and came across a woodcut depicting the death of Mary, surrounded by the apostles. It reminded me of the painting by Hugo so I did some quick research on this.

The book was a popular prayer book, earliest edition with these illustrations I found was 1515. The woodcuts are by Erhard Schon and Hans Spriningklee. Not sure by which of those two the woodcut above was done but both have a link with Dürer. Schon was influenced by him and may have collaborated on Maximilian’s triumphal arch. Springinklee was a pupil of Dürer and also worked on the triumphal arch.

The above woodcut resembles the one by Dürer that predates this (I think it was 1505, not sure):

Death of Mary by Dürer

Around 1520 Dürer travelled to the Low Countries. He kept a diary that is quite interesting to read. It gives you a good idea of his life and how travelling by a man of his status was done in those times. It is clear from the diary that Dürer was just as much, if not more, a merchant as an artist.

He visited many places, including Mechelen but does not say anything special about it. Along his trip he saw many works of art, including works by Rudiger (I suppose that’s Rogier) and Hugo van der Goes. One of these works was a painting by Hugo in the Nassau chapel at Brussels. According to Elisbeth Dhanens this could have been the lost original of which a copy – St Luke drawing the Virgin – is now at Lissabon (see earlier post). In St Jacob’s church he saw a Madonna with child. Dürer also describes how he saw Michelangelo’s Madonna at the same location. The statue has been moved a couple times since and the current location is the Church of Our Lady at Bruges, the same church where the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are. I am not sure if the statue is currently back in place after the renovations but it’s interesting to think that you can still look at a piece of art that Dürer saw when it was still under warranty in a matter of speaking.

Not to be continued. We move on to another episode of the quest.


Safe dating in times of corona

One of those weird details in Bosch paintings, this one from an Adoration of the Magi.

This post is not going where you think it is going…

This is something I mentioned before, but I keep running into dating issues. Not just that most books and paintings of the 15th century are not dated but when dates are used, they do not correspond 1 on 1 with the dates we use now.

First of all there is the Julian-Gregorian conversion, which differs from region to region, and started from 1582. Due to timing issues caused by the method of the Julian calendar, it was decided to skip a number of days at a given time. The difference was 10 days at first, but it increments so now we’re apparently 13 days ahead. The result is that not only is it not clear if authors writing after 1582 are using the new date format or the old one when mentioning dates from a time before that, but you also have to factor in the incrementation between the author’s time and the current time.

The second issue is that the year in the middle ages didn’t start on 1 January but on another selected day, usually the day of an important catholic event such as the Annunciation or Easter. This means there is also some discrepancy in year numbers between now and eg. dates in the contemporary chronicles. To give a relevant example, it can happen that you find 1476 as the year when Charles the Bold died, instead of 1477.

I am not even going to mention the weird French Republican calender that was used during a few years around 1800.

It’s convenient we’re in lockdown and I have no idea of what day, month and year it is anyway.


Another Epiphany

This is a follow-up on the previous post. After publishing that one, I stumbled upon a documentary about the Busleyden museum at Mechelen, which was put online a couple days ago in the Stay at Home Museum series.

The presentation is a bit on the clumsy side but it has some images of the painting of the Council I referred to last time. It gives a good idea about its size. Be aware that the painting is end of 16th century, not contemporary. As I mentioned earlier, I hope that the names on it correspond with the actual members. For the three I referred to, I’m certain.

After watching the documentary I got back to the book about Hugo and the end of the chapter about the Nativity painting. This part is about the many paintings and painters that were influenced by Hugo. Only one stood out for me, an – admittedly crude – Nativity triptych by the Master of Frankfurt. It was painted early 16th century and is a mirror (!) image of the one by Hugo. When I checked the information about the painter, it turns out the painter is not from Frankfurt but worked in Antwerp between 1480 and 1520. His selfportrait is included, it is the man on the left behind the wall. There is a suggestion on Wikipedia that he may have been tutored by Hugo van der Goes. Got to dig into some books.

The date of the painting puts it long after both Hugo’s and Jean Hey’s paintings. The king with the red cape, kneeling in front, is probably Frederik III. He is wearing the collar of the Golden Fleece. What’s interesting is that E. Dhanens mentions links between the painting and Mechelen. For instance, Frederik added his eagle to the coat of arms of the city and was present at the 1491 chapter of the Golden Fleece at Mechelen. It is not known for whom the triptych was made but it is theoretically possible, that it was for someone in Mechelen or was located there (suggested by the author).

In any case, is it a coincidence that Mechelen keeps popping up? As such, a thing to check are possible links between Hugo and Jean Hay and Mechelen.

To be continued.


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