Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

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

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

Ainsworth, Maryan W., ed., with Stijn Alsteens and Nadine M. Orenstein, and with contributions by Lorne Campbell, Ethan Matt Kavaler, Peter Klein, and Stephanie Schrader
496 pages
453 illustrations
College Art Association Alfred H. Barr Jr. Book Award, Winner (2012)
View More Publication Info

Jan Gossart (ca. 1478–1532) was among the first Netherlandish artists to travel to Rome to make drawings after antique monuments and sculpture and then, upon his return, to introduce biblical and mythological subjects with erotic nude figures into the mainstream of Northern painting. Often credited with successfully assimilating Italian Renaissance style into the art of sixteenth-century northern Europe, Gossart is the pivotal old master who redirected the course of early Netherlandish art from the legacy of its founder, Jan van Eyck, toward a new style that would eventually lead to the great age of Peter Paul Rubens.

Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance offers a much-needed comprehensive reappraisal of the artist's accomplishments—the first in 45 years. It is not only an exhibition catalogue but also a study of Gossart's complete oeuvre as a painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Among the many highlights are the exquisite, gemlike Malvagna Triptych, Gossart's only surviving intact altarpiece; the Carondelet Diptych, one of the masterpieces of early Netherlandish portraiture; the Portrait of an Old Couple, an astonishingly trenchant psychological study; the extraordinary drawing of Adam and Eve from the collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth; and a unique hand-colored etching of the young Charles V. To demonstrate the artistic milieu of which Gossart was a part, antique and Renaissance sculpture, paintings by contemporaries such as Gerard David and Bernard van Orley, and prints and drawings by Marcantonio Raimondi, Lucas van Leyden, and Albrecht Dürer are also discussed and illustrated.

The majority of the paintings in this volume have for the first time undergone rigorous technical examination by methods such as infrared reflectography, X-radiography, pigment analysis, and microscopy. As a result, many problems relating to attributions, dating, versions, and copies have been clarified, and a fuller understanding has been obtained of the artist's working procedures, the relationship between his drawings on paper and the underdrawings of his paintings, and the evolution of his technique and style. The results of a valuable dendrochronological study of the panel supports are also presented. Gossart's accomplishments as a draftsman have been enhanced by the acceptance of several additional drawings, while his prints receive their first in-depth evaluation.

The text draws on these unprecedented technical investigations as well as on recent original scholarship concerning many issues not adequately examined in the past. Among these topics are Gossart's early career as a proponent of Antwerp Mannerism, the full impact of his sojourn to Rome, the patronage of Philip of Burgundy (including a closer look at the erotic nature of court art), Gossart's dialogue with sculpture, the rationale behind his simultaneous portrayals of Late High Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles, and his experimentation with new modes of portraiture.

The Poet Virgil in a Basket, Lucas van Leyden  Netherlandish, Engraving; first state
Lucretia, Daniel Mauch, Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens); pedestal: various pieces of dark colored wood, including pieces of ebony (Diospyros sp.), German
St. Bernard Adoring the Christ Child, Dirck Vellert  Netherlandish, Engraving
October 5, 1524
Saint Luke Painting the Virgin, Dirck Vellert  Netherlandish, Engraving
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Francesco Colonna  Italian, Printed book with woodcut illustrations
Multiple artists/makers
December 1499
Studies of Saint John the Baptist, Copy after Rogier van der Weyden  Flemish, Metalpoint on gray prepared paper, Flemish
after 1455
The Lamentation, Jan de Beer  Netherlandish, Pen and black ink, over black chalk
ca. 1500–20
The Desperate Man, Albrecht Dürer  German, Etching
ca. 1515
Virgin and Child Seated by a Tree, Albrecht Dürer  German, Engraving
Virgin and Child on a Grassy Bench, Albrecht Dürer  German, Engraving
The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, Lucas van Leyden  Netherlandish, Engraving; touched with gray wash on face and shoulders of Virgin; first state
Maximilian I, Lucas van Leyden  Netherlandish, Etching and engraving
The Man of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer  German, Etching on iron; first state of three
The Man of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer  German, Etching on iron; first state of three
The Man of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer  German, Etching on iron; second state of three
Adam and Eve, Albrecht Dürer  German, Engraving
Virgin and Child with Four Angels, Gerard David  Netherlandish, Oil on wood
ca. 1510–15
Madonna and Child, Benedetto da Maiano  Italian, Marble, painted background, Italian, Florence
ca. 1490
Virgin and Child in a niche, Luca della Robbia  Italian, Glazed terracotta with gilt and painted details, Italian, Florence
ca. 1460
The Man of Sorrows Mocked by a Soldier, Frontispiece to the Great Passion, Albrecht Dürer  German, Woodcut
Showing 20 of 46

View Citations

Ainsworth, Maryan W., Stijn Alsteens, Nadine Orenstein, Jan Gossaert, Lorne Campbell, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The National Gallery, eds. 2010. Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance ; the Complete Works ; [Catalogue ... in Conjunction with the Exhibition on View as “Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from October 5, 2010, through January 17, 2011, and as “Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance” at the National Gallery, London, from February 23 through May 30, 2011]. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art [u.a.].