an Gossaert, or Gossart, is commonly called Jan de Mabuse, from his
birthplace, now known as Maubeuge (in Latin, Malbodium). He was born about the
year 1470: when, about thirty-three years of age he obtained the freedom of the
guild of Antwerp, and resided in that city until 1507.
Jan Gossaert, or Gossart, is
commonly called Jan de Mabuse, from his birthplace, now known as Maubeuge (in
Latin, Malbodium). He was born about the year 1470: when, about thirty-three
years of age he obtained the freedom of the guild of Antwerp, and resided in
that city until 1507. A few-years later he accompanied Philip of Burgundy, son
of Philip the Good, to Italy. He obtained, from the title of his patron, who,
besides being a bishop, was an admiral, the name of "peintre de 1'amiral."
Mabuse stayed in Italy, at Florence and Rome, about twelve years, during which
time he studied the works of the great masters—-if not with improvement to his
own style, at least without that servile imitation which afterwards
characterized so many of his countrymen. Mabuse had the honor of serving several
crowned heads : he painted for Christian II. of Denmark, for Margaret of
Austria, and for Henry VII. of England—during a residence of a. short time in
this country. We have, however, very scanty proof of Mabuse's stay in England.
He died at Antwerp on the ist of October, 1532.
While in Italy, Mabuse, by correcting the stiffness of the school of Leyden,
where he is said to have studied, by the Italian ease and taste, commenced the
sort of compromise between the styles of the South and North which characterizes
this second epoch of Flemish art; and on his return to his country, he devoted
all the rest of his works to making this new intermediate style well known. We
must therefore accord to him, notwithstanding his very lax morals, a grave and
very important position in the traditional history of art.
Jan de Mabuse has left numerous works; they may be found in Antwerp, Brussels,
Munich, Berlin, Hampton Court, St. Petersburg, and a few imperfect specimens at
Paris. Let us take those of Berlin to mark the changes in his style. The large
Calvary, in which the cross of the Saviour is not erected on the barren Golgotha
but in the midst of a green and smiling landscape, terminated in the distance by
the view of a Flemish city, is a work of his youth, although it is admirable
from its power of expression, its coloring, perspective, and good preservation.
The Drunkenness of Noah is the copy of a fresco in the ceiling of the Sistine,
and the figures in a Madonna in the midst of an ornamental landscape are
imitated from Leonardo da Vinci. But after these thoroughly Italian works, the
compromise between the two arts is seen clearly in two diptychs, one of which
contains Adam and Five, and the other Neptune and Amphitrite. These figures are
tall, strong, and full, both in form and painting, already very different from
the primitive meagerness and dryness, and are far advanced in the Italian style.
The mythological group is the finer, especially Neptune, who is crowned, and
almost dressed in shells. The Italian qualities in this picture are so striking
that it might very innocently be doubted whether a Fleming was the author, if he
had not himself affixed his signature: "Joannes Malbodius pingebat, 1516." It
was after his return from Italy, when he was about forty-five years old.
England possesses one of the best works of Mabuse, executed before his journey
to Italy. It is the Adoration of the Kings, at Castle Howard, the seat of the
Earl of Carlisle. The National Gallery has a Portrait of a man dressed in black;
and we must not forget to mention the Children of Christian II. of Denmark, at
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