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.