Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance

October 6, 2010–January 17, 2011

Bruges and Collaboration

When Gossart returned from Rome in 1509, he settled in Middelburg, the main city on the island of Walcheren, in Zeeland. There, he was admitted to the Brotherhood of Our Lady, married Margriet s'Molders, and raised three children. Gossart's decision to settle in Middelburg likely was based on its proximity to Souburg, the site of Philip of Burgundy's castle. Philip does not, however, appear to have employed Gossart regularly until about 1515ñ16, and little is known of the artist's whereabouts between 1509 and 1515. A close look at the paintings he made during this time suggests that he led a somewhat peripatetic existence, taking on important commissions in Geraardsberghen, near Brussels (Adoration of the Kings for the chapel of Our Lady in the abbey church of Saint Adriaan); in Mechelen (Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin for the chapel of the painters' guild at Saint Rombouts); and especially in Bruges, where he collaborated with Gerard David, the leading local artist. Rich in the legacy of Jan van Eyck, the celebrated court painter to Duke Philip the Good and the "founder" of early Netherlandish painting, Bruges was a thriving center for manuscript illumination and panel painting. It offered an ideal location for Gossart to continue to perfect his technique and attract new business. As some of his clients had conservative tastes, Gossart had to balance their interests with his inclination toward the new "Romanist" style he had learned in Rome.