Dead ends

Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer

The past week I have not been well at all, and did not go out much. I’ve spent several days travelling back and forth between 1473 and 1667 AD, researching the gaps in the lives of two separate persons. There are not many online documents to consult, certainly not before 1600, and what I’ve found is incomplete, eaten by rodents, not accurate or just plain wrong, because people who wrote the information down didn’t double check facts or even thought logically (it seems very unlikely to me that an elderly – illegitimate child and all – priest would have a go at jousting, e.g.). I have ended up in many dead alleys and it’s very frustrating. At the same time definitely getting better at deciphering 17th century manuscripts in Latin.

As for the research on the B, I have finished the chronicles of Jean de Haynin on Christmas day and am now reading Olivier de la Marche’s memoires. It’s a scan of a 19th century edition, in old French that’s not too hard to understand. Halfway through the third volume of four so far.

Art project is also not going according to plan. I have finished the miniatures and am putting the book together. I smeared most of the glue and paint in my hair, made a couple big stains in the book and cut my hand, so far not so good. I just saw some cakes that were better painted on the internet so I am ready to throw the book out of the window. Maybe the Righteous Judges in miniature format was a bit too ambitious.

Some creepy nightmares, my brain warning me to take it easy. It will all fall into place, I’m sure, just not now.

Couple samples of gouache/ink/watercolour paintings:

Nicolas Rolin and a dragon.
More or less copied from a prayer book of the B.

The sword in the stone – Gold cups and red kings

It’s a curse.
Mend my troubled soul.

[Stole this quote from (the unintentionally hilarious) Knightfall. Quite befitting in the context of this post, even though it was uttered by a templar about to enter the holy lands of a voluptuous woman.]

1. WIP

Artwork in progress: still the same apart from a new modern martyr and miniature of a suit of armour in art school.

2. Research about the Bold’s crypto and other portraits

On Monday I traded my library books about van der Weyden and the Bold for some other books, more in particularly another one about Rogier, one about Michael Cocxcie and two about Jan van Eyck. Poor Hubert is rarely mentioned. I also checked some clues about Memling in a book I didn’t take home, mostly because it made my pile to heavy. I just took a picture of the relevant page:

The article mentioned that somebody thought the third apostle on the left of Christ was Philip the Good but the author says it looks more like his son. Side by side, he looks like the spitting image but I already mentioned this. Note that when I say Memling it could also mean his workshop

With the Columba altarpiece (see pages and earlier posts), where the red king is supposed to be a crypto of the Bold, the date is problematic. The red king looks a bit too old in relation to the age of C at the time, plus he doesn’t have that rather obvious double chin, folds near the corners of his mouth, big staring eyes and frown of the couple contemporary portraits. 

There are three other candidates for a crypto portrait, basically three versions of the same painting. I also found this partially in the book about Memling but did some additional comparing. There is the Jan Floreins triptych (dated 1479) and an almost the same painting which hangs in the Prado (dated 1470), plus a third similar but not quite the same painting by an unknown painter from a bit later.

In 1893 a certain Wauters said the king on the left in the Floreins/Prado painting is a crypto of the Bold, but this was debunked by somebody else in 1899.

Why whould anyone have thought it was a crypto? Well, here are the paintings, in the presumed order of creation, followed by details, so you can judge for yourselves. For the record: The Bold was born at the end of 1433 and had dark, thick and straggly hair. Not sure about a moustache or dimple in his chin. Nb, look very closely at the one by the unknown painter, not just at the king on the right, but also the black king. Same stance and overcoat as the red king in the Columba altarpiece by Rogier but that’s it, none of the other features.

The Prado Adoration of the Magi by Memling (workshop) (around 1470):

The Adoration of the Magi by an anonymous painter (around 1475):

The Floreint triptych by Memling (workshop) (around 1479):

Here are the heads of the three kings, the middle one is mirrored:

And all three mirrored so they can be compaired with the Berlin portrait:

For completeness sake, here are two other portraits: one of the relic holder which was ordered by Charles, and the face from his tomb effigy which was created a very long time after his death (all images from Wikipedia).

Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time on this, but it’s quite interesting to see how the Middle Ages had their own versions of stock images and no worries about copyright at all.

I was going to add something about the research about Charles of Burgundy’s mad behaviour after 1472 but this post is already too long, so that’s for a next post.


Sunday update: How many mirrors does a man need?

Illustration from Der ritter vom Turm (image from Wikipedia).

Work done at art school: started a new small and a normal sized painting. Thinking about my next painting and doing research for a local project we’re going to take part in in the coming months.

Work done at home: first layer of the background of Ilion, another layer on the B, another layer of the background of Alexander and overpainting a small copy of a portrait by Raphael, A great number of sketches and small exercises in my sketchbook. All my paintings are now too wet to work on next week, so I am going to start a couple new ones. Not sure what yet.

In the process of cleaning up and sorting out my library. Watched Arrival. Watched a couple episodes of Fake or Fortune. Going to watch the next episode of The Arrow tonight.  Going to watch a series about crusaders. Avoiding the news. Trying to avoid other people’s art this week, too frustrating. Duty at the Asylum.  Hoovering the Duchy. Roof leaks are repaired, touch wood, the curse is over. Now the subject of a ridiculous conspiracy theory. Watched a couple of episodes of Once. There is a Gideon in it, lol.


I wasn’t really intending to spend time on the B quest, apart from finishing the library books because they are due tomorrow. However, it tugged on my sleeve a couple times. The result is I have some more fact-checking to do in the coming days.

a) Somebody brought a few boxes with retired library books to our art class for the project mentioned above. We’re going to do 3D things with them. The musty smelling books are mostly children’s and YA books. I selected two of them because they were about the middle ages which is my side theme at the moment. I took them home to read them this weekend and see what I can do with them. Turns out one of them is about Memling’s apprentice years with Rogier van der Weyden (it wasn’t clear from the blurb). The Bold plays a fairly big role in it. It’s half historical, half fantasy but there are a  couple things in there worth checking out.

b) From the beginning, mirrors have played a role in the quest, in works of art and such. Only circumstantial evidence. Yesterday,  while I was gathering some stuff for the garage sale at my parents’ place I came across a book about mirrors. It’s about everything regarding mirrors: optics, architecture, photography, art, etc, but there is also a chapter specifically about mirrors in the middle ages and their symbolism. When leafing through it I ran into an interesting fact: according to an inventory of small jewels of the Bold, he had at least 20 hand mirrors! (the exclamation mark was in the book). You draw the conclusions! (this time the exclamation mark is mine).

Until next time.

Update: It’s mostly a catalogue of an exhibition with the treasure looted from the Burgundians, but in the book ‘Karel de Stoute’ there are also some essays with some hints at his madness, visions, etc. Some point at Chastellain and 19th century research. Must look into this. Also how to tie this with  part I and II. A contributor to the catalogue mentioned above also suggested the Bold committed suicide. I suppose the writer meant that in a symbolic way, i.e.  by engaging in a battle the Bold couldn’t possibly win.

I’m beginning to miss my Renaissance Italians…


WIP – The battle of Ilion

The battle of Ilion WIP. Third painting in the Tibi Soli series.

This is how messy my first layers always look. I am painting over the first layer of something I changed my mind about.

Also I am learning as I go to paint this weirdly disproportioned, somewhat comical 1500ish people and horses.

I am a big fan of Loyset Liédet. Technically, he wasn’t the best illustrator but his drawings are always very dynamic.

This is supposed to be serious but it’s hilarious.

Also by Liédet I believe. Look at those hats. The one on the right looks like a 15th century version of a hipster. And the biggest oddity of all: why is that man in the front wearing two different shoes? And there is even a clock in the background.


Site update: Pictures of the Seven Sacraments

I have uploaded the pictures I took of the Seven Sacraments altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden on a separate page under the menu (see above or on the right). I have not yet added my personal thoughts and background information.

The page can be found here:

V. Documents & Background > The Dukes of Burgundy > The Seven Sacraments by Rogier van der Weyden