The Goddess Diana as a Personification of the Moon (Luna)

Attributed to Jacques Jonghelinck Netherlandish

Not on view

This drawing shows a statue of the goddess Diana in her role as a personification of the moon (often known by the epithet Luna, as the sheet is inscribed)—one of a set of eight lifesize bronzes representing the "seven planets," together with a seated Bacchus, that Jacques Jonghelinck produced in Brussels between 1563 and 1573. These statues were commissioned by the sculptor’s brother, Niclaes Jonghelinck, and were most likely destined for his suburban home outside Antwerp, where cycles of paintings by Frans Floris and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, including the latter’s celebrated Months cycle (see 19.164), already hung, possibly intended, together with Jonghelinck’s Planets, as a cohesive cosmographic program.[1] Rediscovered in Spain in the 1970s, the monumental statues rank among the most important surviving examples of sixteenth-century Flemish sculpture.[2]

A document of June 7, 1570, indicates that six of the eight bronzes, including the Luna, had been cast by that date; the remaining two, Saturn and Jupiter, were most likely completed between 1571 and 1573.[3] Because of Niclaes Jonghelinck’s death in June 1570 and his outstanding debts to more than one creditor, the bronzes never entered his collection and were instead subject to a complex and eventful history involving, within the first fifteen years of the works' creation, multiple claims of ownership, confiscations, seizures, and failed attempts to send them abroad—all unfolding against the backdrop of the struggle between Spanish and Orangist forces for control of the Southern Netherlands.[4] Thereafter, following Antwerp’s capitulation to Spanish troops in August 1585, the eight statues were erected in the city’s main square where they were a highlight in the festivities celebrating the triumphal entry of Alexander Farnese. To commemorate that occasion, Philips Galle produced, in 1586, a series of engravings after the statues (for the Luna, see 37.68.57). The sculptures remained in Flanders for several decades, passing through the hands of various owners, and only entered the Spanish royal collection in the 1630s, during the reign of Philip IV, the so-named Planet King. The eight statues were installed in the park of the Buen Retiro in June 1637. While the Bacchus eventually made its ways to Aranjuez, the other seven remained in Madrid, moving, in 1647, to a room in the Alcázar designed by Velázquez (the Luna is visible in the background of a 1666 painting by the subsequent court painter Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo [London, National Gallery]) and, in the eighteenth century, to the Palacio de Oriente in Madrid, where they remain today.

How the present drawing fits into this history is not clear. Closely related to it is a sheet by the same hand in the Musée d’histoire et d’art in Luxembourg that shows the statue of the sun god Apollo (Sol) from the same cycle. In the absence of any other drawings given to Jonghelinck, attribution of these sheets to the sculptor is difficult to confirm. The frontal presentation of the statues in each and their relative degree of finish and use of color suggest that they are demonstration drawings made for a patron, but whether they were produced by Jonghelinck for his brother or by someone else for a subsequent prospective owner, or in connection with lost or unrealized copies of the bronzes cannot be determined. The drawings differ from the sculptures in certain respects. Instead of the simple rectangular plinths on which the statues stand (already visible in Galle’s 1586 engravings), the drawings feature tall pedestals with reliefs or faux-reliefs depicting narrative scenes featuring the gods. The figures’ attributes, now entirely missing from the Luna and Sol statues, were, according to the 1586 prints, also somewhat different than they appear in the drawings; here, Luna holds a single arrow in her raised, proper right hand and a torch in her left, whereas the engraving shows her holding the arrow in her left hand and her bow in the right; the strap attaching her quiver to her body is also reversed. There are more subtle differences in the forms and poses of figures themselves, such as the angles at which their lower arms extend and the proportions and musculature of the torsos. There also appears to be evidence of some rethinking of the contours of Luna’s waist and proper left hip and thigh. These aspects of the drawings are suggestive of execution prior to the casting of the bronzes, but the possibility that they are instead the result of liberties taken and corrections made by a draftsman working from the completed sculptures cannot be excluded. A curious aspect of the Museum’s drawing is the presence of squaring lines over the figure of Luna, suggestive of an effort to reproduce the drawing at some point in its history. In any case, the thick contour lines, vigorous crosshatching, and delicate application of wash, all of which emphasize the undulating curves of Luna’s body, are consistent with Flemish draftsmanship of the second half of the sixteenth century.

(JSS, 7/5/18)

[1] See Iain Buchanan, "The Collection of Niclaes Jonghelinck: I. ‘Bacchus and the Planets’ by Jacques Jonghelinck," The Burlington Magazine 132, no. 1043 (Feb 1990): pp. 111-12; and Edward H. Wouk, Frans Floris (1519/20-70): Imagining a Northern Renaissance (Boston: Brill, 2018), pp. 359-61.

[2] Luc Smolderen, "Bacchus et les sept Planètes par Jongelinck," Revue des archéologues et historiens d’art de Louvain 10 (1977): pp. 132-43; Bert Meijer, "The Re-emergence of a Sculptor: Eight Lifesize Bronzes by Jacques Jonghelinck," Oud Holland 93, no. 2 (1979): pp. 116-35. See also Luc Smolderen, Jacques Jonghelinck: Sculpteur, médailleur et graveur de sceaux (1530-1606) (Louvain-la-Neuve: 1996), p. 101.

[3] Smolderen, Jacques Jonghelinck: Sculpteur, médailleur et graveur de sceaux (1530-1606) (Louvain-la-Neuve: 1996), pp. 102-3.

[4] See Smolderen 1996, 102-7.

[5] For a recent proposal that the squaring relates to a lost painting produced between 1572 and 1577, see François Reinert in Amis-Ennemis. Mansfeld et le revers de la médaille (Luxembourg City: Musée Dräi-Eechelin, 2018), 194, citing Smolderen 1996, p. 104.

The Goddess Diana as a Personification of the Moon (Luna), Attributed to Jacques Jonghelinck (Netherlandish, Antwerp 1530–1606 Antwerp), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and blue wash, red chalk, white gouache, over black chalk; squared in black chalk

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