This sober image of the artist's father was painted in the year Heemskerck left Haarlem for an extended trip to Italy. The inscription on the parapet reads, "My son portrayed me here when I had lived seventy-five years so they say." Departing from his usual classicizing style, the artist reverted to vernacular Dutch in Gothic letters, declaring this a portrait grounded in life and experience. A direct gaze confronts the viewer with the presence of a stern man nearing the end of his life. Three years later, Van Veen died at the age of seventy-nine, while Heemskerck was still abroad.
This three-quarter view portrait represents Jacob Willemsz. Van Veen, Maarten van Heemskerck’s father. An inscription in Dutch at the bottom of the portrait, appearing as Gothic calligraphy against a stone parapet, can be translated as "My son portrayed me here when I had lived 75 years so they say". This straightforward account of Van Veen’s age and relationship to the artist, the immediacy of his dour features, and the shallow space in which he is placed confront the viewer with the presence of a stern man nearing the end of his life. The portrait is dated 1532, that is, the same year Maarten van Heemskerck left Haarlem to study painting in Italy, a journey which influenced his art and made him an important proponent of the Romanist style. Three years later, his father died at the age of seventy-nine, while Heemskerck was still abroad.
Dutch painter and artists’ biographer Karel Van Mander writes in his Schilderboeck of 1604 that Van Veen was a wealthy farmer whose anger at his son’s artistic ambitions forced Heemskerck to leave home. It is tempting, therefore, to read into the unflinching depiction of Van Veen a portrayal of the tense relationship between father and son. Indeed, Heemskerck’s painting of his father differs from his other early portraits, which tend to present a more spacious setting for their subjects. But in this regard, Heemskerck was also influenced by his teacher in Haarlem, Jan van Scorel, whose portraits show sitters in tightly-cropped, shallow spaces, as can be found here (Sintobin 1998).
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (bottom): mij[n]·soe[n]·heft·mij·hier·gheconterfeit·doe·ic·gheleeft·had·lxxv·iare[n]·some[n]·seijt· (My son portrayed me here when I had lived seventy-five years so they say) / ·1532·MVH [monogram]
Johannes Enschede, Haarlem (until 1786; sale, Jelgersma and Van der Vinne, Haarlem, May 30, 1786, no. 70, for fl. 12); Gillis van Lichten; ?Samuel von Festetits, Vienna (d. 1862); [Léon Gauchez and Alexis Febvre, Paris, until 1870; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–71; sold to MMA)
Baltimore Museum of Art. "Man and His Years," October 19–November 21, 1954, no. 33.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 42.
Adriaan van der Willigen. Geschiedkundige aantekeningen over Haarlemsche schilders en andere beoefenaren van de beeldende kunsten. Haarlem, 1866, p. 126 [see Ref. Grosshans 1980, p. 106].
Adriaan van der Willigen. "Notices historiques avec un précis sur la gilde de St. Luc." Les artistes de Haarlem. Haarlem, 1870, pp. 157–58, identifies our painting as a portrait by Marten van Heemskerck of his father; records the inscription and notes that the age and date provided in it contradict those on the grave monument in Heemskerck, where, according to the author, it is stated that Jacob van Veen died in 1532 at the age of 79.
Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. London, 1871, pl. .
Louis Decamps. "Un musée transatlantique." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 5 (1872), p. 33, ill. opp. p. 34 (engraving by J. Jacquemart, which does not reproduce the inscription), lists it among the earliest aquisitions of the MMA.
Emil Kegel. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: New-York, das Metropolitan-Museum." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 7 (1884), p. 461.
F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 74.
W. Bode. "Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 6, no. 1 (1895), pp. 16, 18, ill. (engraving).
C. J. Gonnet. "Mr. Maerten van Heemskerck." Bijdragen voor de geschiedenis van het bisdom van Haarlem 21 (1896), pp. 284, 290–91 [see Ref. Grosshans 1980].
E. W. Moes. Iconographia Batava: Beredeneerde Lijst van Geschilderde en Gebeeldhouwde Portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in Vorige Eeuwen. Vol. 2, Amsterdam, 1905, p. 507, no. 8274-1.
Leon Preibisz. Martin van Heemskerck: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Romanismus in de niederländischen Malerei des XVI Jahrhunderts. Leipzig, 1911, pp. 8–9, 76, 105, no. 37, pl. 1, lists it among Heemskerck's earliest paintings and compares it with contemporaneous works of Jan van Scorel.
Grete Ring. Beiträge zur Geschichte niederländischer Bildnismalerei im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. Leipzig, 1913, p. 168.
G. J. Hoogewerff inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 16, Leipzig, 1923, p. 228.
Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, p. 288.
Ludwig Baldass. "Bildnisse des niederländischen Romanismus." Städel-Jahrbuch 6 (1930), p. 85.
Caroline Henriette de Jonge. "Vroege werken van Maerten van Heemskerck." Oud-Holland 49 (1932), p. 152, ill., compares it with another early Heemskerck portrait of a man, usually identified as Pieter Bicker [now Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam].
Ary Bob de Vries. Het noord-nederlandsch portret in de tweede helft van de 16e eeuw. PhD diss., Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht. Amsterdam, 1934, pp. 25, 125, mentions it among the early works of Heemskerck, showing Scorel's influence.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 13, Anthonis Mor und seine Zeitgenossen. Leiden, 1936, pp. 72, 74, 160, no. 221, pl. 42, discusses it in relation to three paintings by Heemskerck, all signed and dated 1532, or before the artist went to Italy.
Julius S. Held. "Dr. Friedländer's Scholarly Study of Early Flemish and Dutch Painting." Art in America 27 (1939), p. 83, fig. 2, comments on its importance for distinguishing Heemskerck's early style from that of Scorel.
G. J. Hoogewerff. De Noord-Nederlandsche Schilderkunst. Vol. 4, The Hague, 1941–42, pp. 294–96, ill., notes that Heemskerck's father died in 1535, not in 1532, as stated by Willigen (see Ref. Willingen 1870); suggests that a portrait of an elderly woman, without an inscription, may be the mother of the painter (Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar).
Caroline Henriette de Jonge. "Maerten van Heemskerck: Portret eener jonge vrouw." Oud-Holland 58 (1941), p. 1.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, p. 151, ill., incorrectly state that Heemskerck's father died in 1532 [see Ref. Hoogewerff 1941–42].
F. W. H. Hollstein. Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, ca. 1450–1700. Vol. 8, Amsterdam, 1949?, p. 245, no. 389 [see Ref. Descamps 1872], mentions an engraving after it by [J.] Jacquemart.
J. Bruyn. "Vroege portretten van Maerten van Heemskerck." Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 3, no. 2 (1955), pp. 32–33, ill., compares it with the unsigned portrait of Pieter Bicker Gerritsz. (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 454.
Gert von der Osten and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Baltimore, 1969, p. 185.
Gert von der Osten. Deutsche und niederländische Kunst der Reformationszeit. Cologne, 1973, pp. 187–88.
Ilja Markx-Veldman. "Het grafmonument te Heemskerk en het gebruik van hiëroglyfen in de kring rondom Maarten van Heemskerck." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 24 (1973), pp. 27–28, 42 n. 2, ill.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 13, Antonis Mor and His Contemporaries. New York, 1975, pp. 40–41, 91, no. 221, pl. 113.
Ilja M. Veldman. Maarten van Heemskerck and Dutch Humanism in the Sixteenth Century. Maarssen, The Netherlands, 1977, pp. 145–46, ill.
Rainald Grosshans. Maerten van Heemskerck: Die Gemälde. Berlin, 1980, pp. 65, 106–7, no. 15, pl. 15, considers it dependant on Jan van Scorel's group portraits of pilgrims to Jerusalem (Centraal Museum, Utrecht, and Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem).
Lorne Campbell. Unpublished notes. 1981.
J. C. Harrison et al. Kunst voor de beeldenstorm: Noordnederlandse kunst 1525–1580. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum. The Hague, 1986 [vol. 1], pp. 34–35, ill.; [vol. 2] catalogue, p. 195, ill., call it a "personal document" and note that it is the only signed portrait by Heemskerck before his departure for Italy.
J. C. Harrison. "The Detroit 'Christ on Calvary' and the Cologne 'Lamentation of Christ': Two Early Haarlem Paintings by Maerten van Heemskerck." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 37 (1986), pp. 177, 191 n. 9.
Jefferson Cabell Harrison. "The Paintings of Maerten van Heemskerck—A Catalogue Raisonné." PhD diss., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1987, pp. 3, 21, 26, 105, 224–28, no. 12, ill., places three works before ours in a chronological list of Heemskerck's portraits; calls our panel "totally uncharacteristic of Heemskerck's early Haarlem portrait mode"; suggests that in its bust-length design eliminating the sitter's hands and banishing all reference to activity or environment, the painting follows the format of portraits by Scorel; notes that by concentrating on the face and expression Heemskerck achieved a more purely psychological study of character; remarks that the humble origin of the sitter is suggested not only by his attire, but also by the ambivalence about his age in the inscription.
Wouter Kloek. "Onderzoek tijdens de tentoonstelling 'Kunst voor de beeldenstorm'." Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 35, no. 3 (1987), pp. 245, 273.
Lorne Campbell. Renaissance Portraits. New Haven, 1990, pp. 61, 69, 139–40, 225, 273 n. 154, pl. 162.
J. G. Links. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. September 13, 1993, comments that "the hat is probably budge (lamb) but formalised".
Ilja M. Veldman inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 14, New York, 1996, p. 291.
Véronique Sintobin inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 144, 196–98, no. 42, ill. (color)
Piet de Boer inMaerten van Heemskerck, 1498–1574: 'Constigh vermaert schilder'. Ed. Erik Zevenhuizen and Piet de Boer. Heemskerk, 1998, pp. 11, 14, ill. (color).
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 172–73,182, 212, 244–45, appendix 1A no. 119, ill. p. 212, figs. 18, 29 (etching by Jacquemart).
Artist: Designed from prints after Maarten van Heemskerck (Netherlandish, Heemskerck 1498–1574 Haarlem)Date: ca. 1575–1600Medium: Wool, silk (18-20 warps per inch, 7-8 cm.)Accession: 92.1.12On view in:Not on view
Artist: Maarten van Heemskerck (Netherlandish, Heemskerck 1498–1574 Haarlem)Date: 1559Medium: Pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk; indented for transfer. Framing line in pen and brown inkAccession: 2000.150On view in:Not on view