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Jan Gossart

The exhibition is made possible by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, Flanders House New York, and the Society of Friends of Belgium in America.

Additional support is provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Hester Diamond, David Kowitz, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and Joyce P. and Diego R. Visceglia.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with The National Gallery, London.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by the Mary C. and James W. Fosburgh Publications Fund and the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.

Additional support is provided by the Doris Duke Fund for Publications.

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Jan Gossart: Conservation Discoveries

Program information

Learn more about the exhibition Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance on view at the Met October 6, 2010--January 17, 2011.

The first major exhibition in forty-five years devoted to the Burgundian Netherlandish artist Jan Gossart (ca. 1478-1532) will bring together Gossart's paintings, drawings, and prints and place them in the context of the art and artists that influenced his transformation from Late Gothic Mannerism to the new Renaissance mode. Gossart was among the first northern artists to travel to Rome to make copies after antique sculpture and introduce historical and mythological subjects with erotic nude figures into the mainstream of northern painting. Most often credited with successfully assimilating Italian Renaissance style into northern European art of the early sixteenth century, he is the pivotal Old Master who changed the course of Flemish art from the Medieval craft tradition of its founder, Jan van Eyck (ca. 1380/90--1441), and charted new territory that eventually led to the great age of Peter Paul Rubens (1577--1640).

Correction:
Karen Thomas, Associate Conservator, Department of Paintings Conservation

Producer and Director: Christopher Noey
Editor: Kate Farrell
Digital Images and Animation: Paul Caro
Camera: Wayne De La Roche, Jessica Glass
Sound Recording: David Raymond
Production Assistants: Sarah Cowan, Robin Schwalb

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Special Exhibition: Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance

Program information

Curator Maryan Ainsworth relates the story of Jan Gossart’s travels to Rome in 1508–9 and how the ancient and Renaissance works he saw there influenced both his own art and the history of Netherlandish painting.

Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures

Jan Gossart's Renaissance

October 6, 2010–January 17, 2011

Accompanied by a catalogue

The first major exhibition in forty-five years devoted to the Burgundian Netherlandish artist Jan Gossart (ca. 1478–1532) brings together Gossart's paintings, drawings, and prints and places them in the context of the art and artists that influenced his transformation from Late Gothic Mannerism to the new Renaissance mode. Gossart was among the first northern artists to travel to Rome to make copies after antique sculpture and introduce historical and mythological subjects with erotic nude figures into the mainstream of northern painting. Most often credited with successfully assimilating Italian Renaissance style into northern European art of the early sixteenth century, he is the pivotal Old Master who changed the course of Flemish art from the medieval craft tradition of its founder, Jan van Eyck (ca. 1380/90–1441), and charted new territory that eventually led to the great age of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640).

More About the Exhibition

In the early sixteenth century, the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands—a geographical area that once encompassed present-day Belgium, Holland, and parts of Germany and France—experienced the rise of humanism, the birth of the Reformation, and constant struggles of territorial expansion among the ruling dynasties of Western Europe. The future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was born in Ghent in 1500. After the untimely death of his father, Philip the Fair, in 1506, he was raised by his aunt, Margaret of Austria, governor general and regent of the Netherlands, who held court in Mechelen. The economic power of Bruges was waning as Antwerp assumed new prominence, and artists traveled from place to place to establish a livelihood in the burgeoning art markets of the major Northern cities.

Among the most innovative artists of this period was Jan Gossart (ca. 1478–1532), also known as Jenni Antwerpen, Jennin Gossart, Mabuse, and Johannes Malbodius. The latter two of these sobriquets indicate his town of origin, Maubeuge, today in northern France. In 1503 Gossart joined the painters' guild in Antwerp, where he trained two apprentices. His sojourn in Rome in 1508–9 in the entourage of Philip of Burgundy, illegitimate son of Duke Philip the Good, on a diplomatic mission to Pope Julius II, brought him fame.

He was one of the first Northern artists to experience firsthand the art of antiquity, to make drawings after Greek and Roman sculpture and monuments, and to assimilate this new awareness of the ancient world into his work. Gossart was much heralded at the time for introducing to Northern art depictions of biblical and mythological subjects (historie and poesie) with nude figures. At the humanist courts where he worked—in particular, for Philip of Burgundy—he was lauded as the "Apelles of our age," comparing him to the most famous painter of antiquity. Influenced by his pivotal trip to Rome, Gossart redirected the course of early Netherlandish painting from the legacy of its founder, Jan van Eyck, and charted new territory that eventually led to the great age of Peter Paul Rubens.

The current exhibition is the first reappraisal in more than forty-five years of the extraordinary achievements of this versatile master. Viewed in the context of his contemporary milieu, Gossart is celebrated as an artist of unsurpassed skill and remarkable originality. Technical examinations of the majority of his works have informed a reconsideration of his innovations as a painter, draftsman, and printmaker.