Tag: charles the bold

Three (not so) wise men for the price of one

This is a follow-up post on some of the crypto portraits of Charles the Bold.

To summarize: there are almost no direct portrait paintings of Charles the Bold. Most of them are copies of paintings that were lost or just complete fantasy. For reference purposes I’ll repost the most important ones here.

The best known portrait is the (copy) of the portrait by Rogier van der Weyden, the one I’m more or less copying now.

There is also a copy of a portrait that was painted when Charles the Bold travelled to Dijon to bury his parents. In this one he is rather rough looking.

But there are also some so called contemporary crypto portraits, ie portraits that appear in paintings that may portray someone particular without mentioning their name (and as such are theoretical portraits, I guess).

One of such portraits is John the Apostle in the Last Judgment scene by Memling (discussed this before):

There are also three other supposed crypto-portraits that are somewhat linked together. The three portraits are all portraying one of the three wise men that visited newly born baby Jesus (not to be confused with baby Yoda :/). Two of them are by Memling and his workshop, the third one by Rogier van der Weyden. They’re all similar.

The first one is the Floreins triptych by Memling, located at the St Jans hospital at Bruges (a new trip to Bruges is in order, once the museum is open again).

The king in red on the left may be a portrait of Charles the Bold.

A fairly similar painting is located at the Prado, Madrid.

The third Magi painting I want to show is known as the Columba altarpiece and was painted by Rogier van der Weyden and workshop.

According to the books about Memling I read and other sources, the oldest king kissing the child may be a portrait of Philip the Good and the youngest king, the one in red on the right, is supposedly a portrait of Charles the Bold. This one:

It was even used as his portrait for a biography by Henri Dubois:

Now the odd thing is that the middle king looks a lot more like the Memling kings.

Not sure what is going on here.

There is more to this. According to a couple articles I read, it should be possible to detect certain physical deformities in the portraits. Charles the Bold and Philip the Good (who also had a very long nose apparently) were known to have a protruding, big lower lip. It can definitely be seen in the first two portraits. In the other ones it is not so clear except the youngest king. (result of inbreeding?)

There is also something wrong with the B’s ears, according to said articles, but so far I can’t tell what from the portaits. I’ll have to see if I can find more sources for that.

As for his eyes, I still don’t know what colour they were. I do know that his daughter Mary apparently had grey-brown eyes.

And now I’m off to check an interesting theory about his second wife.

Side quest – Renaissance man wearing a decorative hat

So while the rest of the world is drooling over Jan van Eyck, I’m on a side quest. The other day I was going online through some paintings by the – not as famous as van Eyck – Jan Gossaert, nicknamed Mabuse, and came across the portrait of the above gentleman. Gossaert was born in the year after the Bold’s death and the portrait is a typical renaissance portrait and has the look and feel of Holbein’s portraits (Thomas More, Erasmus, etc).

First thing that I thought when I saw this portrait was that it reminded me a lot of the faces of Anthony the Big Bastard (his official title, see older posts) and somewhat of the B. See below for reference purposes.


The Wikipedia page mentions that it may be Baudouin of Burgundy. The painting is property of the Gemäldegalerie at Berlin, same museum that owns the portrait of Charles the Bold, it’s almost the same size too. Intriguing and worth investigating so I spent more than a day looking for an exhibition catalogue of Mabuse’s work that came from the family archives and that I’d temporarily stored in a box somewhere so I first had to clean up before writing this post.

Let’s see if there are any clues in the painting itself. Old paintings are never without – sometimes quite hermetic – symbols. First off, there is a jewel on his hat. Secondly there are some words on the sheath of the sword. He’s wearing a necklace with a ring. He’s holding his hand in a particular manner. A key is clearly visible on his belt and last but not least the collar of his shirt has a distinctive pattern. All in all his clothes are stunning (probably leeched off the bent backs of his subjects, cough).

I couldn’t find a very good scan of the painting so I’ll have to depend on the catalogue’s description of all the details.

The painting is painted on a panel of 56 x 42,5 cm. It can be dated based on the clothing somewhere around 1525-1530. The catalogue doesn’t mention whether it is an original or a copy. On the back it says Baudoin de Bourgogne, who was an illegitimate son of Philippe the Good but Baudoin had already died in 1508 and the painting is of a later date. The catalogue discusses several other possible identities. Let’s go over everything.

The jewel on the hat: it portrays Venus and Armor. Can’t make much of that yet, as it’s a very popular Renaissance motif.

The words on the sheath: “A(v)tre que ou(s) je n’aime”. That is very similar to the motto of Philippe the Good (autre n’aurai).

The ring may mean that the man is a widower.

The key means he was a chamberlain.

The fish on the guard probably means that he had a function as an admiral.

I don’t know yet what the hands mean.

The collar shows the typical Burgundian cross and some sort of flower. The cross is clear, not sure about the other symbol yet.

Now all three suggested identities are interesting.

If he really is Baudoin de Lille, bastard of Burgundy, bastard son of Philip the Good, it means he is the half-brother of Charles who conspired to have Charles killed and when he was caught and defected to Louis XI, accused Charles of “unnatural actions” (ie being gay, a bad crime in those days). Haven’t progressed much with the B’s true preferences, btw.

He could also be Charles of Burgundy, son of Baudoin of Burgundy. A hint could be the similarities between this portrait and the portrait in the Receuil d’Arras:

Another possible identity is Adolphe de Bourgogne who ordered several works from Gossaert. He was an admiral so that would explain the fish. Adolphe is the grandson of Antoine the big bastard, that could explain the likeness between the two. But Adolphe became knight of the Golden Fleece in 1516 and in this portrait he is not wearing the fleece collar. Unless the portrait was painted before that time, which the catalogue contradicts. Another small interesting fact is that Adolphe was married to Anne de Berghes who is one of the many Glymes.

So it’s all connected somehow. Needs further investigation.


Muziek uit Bourgondische tijd – Superswingende meezinger, gecomponeerd door KdS toen hij nog niet zo’n pretbederver was.

Gisteren ben ik nog eens op Bourgondische queeste gegaan, naar mijn geboortestad. Afgelopen zomer was ik zo stom geweest een oude reisgids te gebruiken om in de kathedraal van Antwerpen op zoek te gaan naar het graf van Isabelle de Bourbon. Blijkt dat er geen complete tombe maar alleen een grafbeeld over is en wat gisanten. Bovendien zitten de gisanten overal en het beeld zit niet meer in de kathedraal maar in Leuven. Geen idee waarom, ze is in Antwerpen gestorven en begraven.

Het was ook een goede gelegenheid om nog eens naar de Zeven Sacramenten van Rogier van der Weyden en zijn atelier te gaan kijken, ter lering en vermaak. Met mijn vorige bezoek in het achterhoofd wou ik bepaalde stukken van naderbij bekijken, vooral oren. Zo gezegd, zo gedaan. De foto’s heb ik al eens eerder gepost maar hier een paar ter herinnering.

19e-eeuwse gravure van het rechterpaneel, komt uit een boek.
Volgens sommigen zou dit een cryptoportret van Karel dS zijn maar die was op het moment van het schilderij maar een jaar of 12 dus dat is niet logisch. Sommige hoofden zijn wel er later op geplakt of overschilderd.
De man aan de rechterkant zou een portret van Filips de Goede kunnen zijn. Hij draagt een sjaal waar je tegenwoordig niet meer mee kunt buitenkomen.
Ik was vooral geïnteresseerd in de oortjes van de kinderen. Geen rare fetisj maar iets uit een boek dat ik wilde checken.

Daarna ging ik op zoek naar Isabelle. Het museum is nogal een doolhof dus het duurde wel even eer ik ze gevonden had.

Isabelle was de tweede vrouw van Karel de Stoute. (Zijn eerste vrouw stierf toen ze nog kinderen waren.) Ze stierf in 1465 onderweg naar Karel die in Frankrijk aan het oorlogvoeren was, in Antwerpen waar ze ook begraven werd. Hun dochter Maria was ondertussen al niet meer bij haar, vanwege het besmettingsgevaar. Het graf werd door beeldenstormers geschonden en het gebeente is uiteindelijk ook verdwenen.

Toen ik op weg naar huis nog even langsliep bij een tweedehandsboekenwinkel vond ik daar een exemplaar van een catalogus waar ik al een poos naar op zoek was.

Vandaag heb ik vooral zitten Tetrissen met boeken en diverse formaten boekenkasten. Ik moet dat eerst voltooien voor ik kan schilderen want elk oppervlak ligt momenteel vol.

Nancy and the Fallen Prince

The picture in this video is a portrait by Titian of Charles Quint, the great grandson of Charles the Bold, btw.

Activities of the past days:

a) Had a bad reaction to the tetanus booster so I was incapacitated for three days. Condition is slowly improving now. Bingewatched tons of Finnish detective series.

b) Spent time on my own detective work. Read some more articles about Charles the Bold. Conclusion: everybody hated him. Some compared him to Lucifer, the fallen angel. The Bold fell too, in the end, quite literally, from his horse, on the battlefield before Nancy in 1477.

c) Threw away a large number of old bad paintings

d) Spent some time going through old parish records. Around 1750, one of my ancestors from around Liège went to get married in a French village somewhere west of Nancy. I’m quite curious about the how and why and how he met his future wife but as I don’t have a time machine, I’ll never know the truth. It’s also interesting that it was close to the Woëvre forest, where Dagobert II was assassinated. But Dagobert, though linked to the quest, is a completely different story.

Update: Soup

Helios and Phaeton by Nicolas Poussin

The day started well. When we were cleaning up the mouldy rubbish in the cellar of my parents, I stepped in a rusty nail and had to go get an update of my tetanus vaccination.

Yesterday I worked on my Brexit and Oscar paintings but I’m not very happy with the result. At this point, I’m not sure if there is any point in creating more useless art. There is too much of it everywhere already. It’s probably more useful to save stray cats and the bees.

Brexit in progress. It has progressed further than this but I have no picture of it.

I painted some more sketches in oil paint on unprepared brown paper, which is not a very good idea and they will not last. Here is a sample of an unfinished one, not very well photographed.

From an old video

Henry is still on my plate. I think it’s not just the images that caught my eye, but also the theatrical, campy, elegant way LO moves. Unfortunaly that is not something one can capture in a drawing or a painting (e.g. 1.27 and after):

From Henry V (1944 version)

I found another classic movie in the local recycling shop.

I have retrieved Charles from storage, because he’s only half done. Not sure if I should continue or start all over again.

Came across more reference images. Here is one of them:

Another portrait of CtB I came across, also in a book presentation. He looks about 8 or 10.

The quest is going well but I have so many leads to follow I don’t know where to start. Also, I have found a remarkable stone but I don’t know what to do with it yet. It doesn’t prevent stepping in rusty nails, unfortunately.

I can still call my quest the quest of the sword because Charles the Bold had a rather fancy magical sword. It originally belonged to his father Philip, and was customised for him and afterwards looted by the Swiss, I suppose. However, I don’t have to look for this sword, it is not hidden. It is in a museum and quite out of my reach.

What I really need to find, though, is his cold, dead, shrivelled heart.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: