This exceptionally fine work exemplifies the early sixteenth-century Antwerp Mannerist drawing style. Possibly by Jan de Beer, one of the greatest practitioners of this school, the drawing depicts the Lamentation, with Christ's body laid out on a linen cloth in the foreground and figures around him expressing various stages of mourning and despair. The Virgin Mary kneels above her son's body in the center of the composition, Saint John the Evangelist stands directly behind her, and Mary Magdalene, with a vase of ointment, kneels at Christ's feet. Characteristic of Antwerp Mannerism are the dramatic gestures and postures, the fluttering draperies, the exotic costumes, and the heightened emotional atmosphere of the scene. Adding to the vibrancy of the composition are the drawing technique–the short, energetic strokes in the hatching, in particular–and the tightly packed arrangement of figures. Both of these traits are found in the works of Jan de Beer, whose painted version of the Lamentation (Turin, Galleria Sabauda) also has a richly expressionistic character. This sheet may have been intended as a study for an unknown or never completed painting of the subject.
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Artist:Circle of Jan de Beer (Netherlandish, Antwerp ca. 1475–1528 Antwerp)
Medium:Pen and black ink, over black chalk
Dimensions:6 x 9 in. (15.3 x 22.9 cm)
Credit Line:Purchase, Pat and John Rosenwald Gift and 2000 Benefit Fund, 2001
Inscription: Inscribed at lower left, in pen and brown ink, in a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century hand: "Quintin Metsys van Brussel"
Inscribed on verso, at upper center in graphite: "vente Muller Amsterdam / 20 Nov 1882 / no 134 du catalogue"; at lower left: "14 ¾ x 22 ¾"
Marking: Inscribed at lower right, with the collector's mark of Robinson (Lugt 1433)
Général Comte Antoine François Andreossy (according to Friedländer 1915); Ambroise Firmin-Didot (French); his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 16, 1877 and following days, lot 54; Sir John Charles Robinson (British); sale, Muller, November 20, 1882, lot 134, as by Quentin Matsys(as by Quentin Matsys); Jhr. Ch. van de Poll (Dutch),1908; by descent to Countess Bielska; sale, Christie's, New York, January 24, 2001, lot 149(as by the Master of the Van Groote Adoration); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel , Munich
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 28–April 21, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 4, 2010–January 3, 2011.
Maurice Delestre Catalogue illustré des dessins et estampes: Composant la collection de M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Sale cat. Paris, 1877, cat. no. 54.
Nicolas Beets "Dirick Jacobsz Vellert, peintre d'Anvers: III: Premiers dessins" L'Art flamand et hollandais. 1908, pp. 99-101, fig. 6 (as by Vellert).
Max J. Friedländer "Jahrbuch der königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen" Die Antwerpener Manieristen von 1520. Berlin, 1915, p. 75.
Sir William Martin Conway The Van Eycks and their Followers. London, 1921, p. 387.
Max J. Friedländer Die niederländischen Manieristen. Leipzig, 1921, pl. 9.
Max J. Friedländer "Die Antwerpe Manieristen: Adriaen Ysenbrant" Die altniedeländische Malerei. vol. 11, Berlin, 1933, p. 24, no. 4 (as by Jan de Beer).
Max J. Friedländer Early Netherlandish Painting: The Antwerp Mannerists Adriaen Ysenbrandt. vol. 11, New York, Washington, 1974, p. 18, no. 4, p. 108, note 5 (as by Jan de Beer).
Karel G. Boon Catalogue of the Dutch and Flemish Drawings in the Rijksmuseum: Netherlandish Drawings of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. vol. 2, The Hague, 1978, p. 202.
Dan Chalmer Ewing The Paintings and Drawings of Jan de Beer. PhD diss., 1978 pp. 309-310, no. 28, fig. 75 (attribution to de Beer uncertain).
Christie's, New York Old Master Drawings. [Sale catalogue]. New York, January 24, 2001, cat. no. 149 (as by the Master of the Van Groote Adoration), ill.
Peter van den Brink Extravagant!: A forgotten chapter of Antwerp Painting 1500-1530. Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, Oct. 15-Dec. 31, 2005 and Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Jan. 22-Apr. 9, 2006. 2005, cat. no. 32, ill.
Maryan W. Ainsworth, Stijn Alsteens, Nadine Orenstein "Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures." Exh. cat.: Jan Gossart's Renaissance: The Complete Works. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010, p. 89, ill.
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