Thursday, July 11, 2019


Portrait of a Man

Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen (c1500-1559),
Portrait of a man, possibly Herman van Gouda
(Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, inv. 482)

Ilja M. Veldman, review of Hendrik J. Horn, Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, Painter of Charles V and His Conquest of Tunis: Paintings, Etchings, Drawings, Cartoons and Tapestries (Doornspijk: Davaco Publishers, 1989), in Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 21.1/2 (1992) 96-102 (at 100):
I would go so far as to call Vermeyen one of the greatest and most audacious portraitists of his day. Far from recording his clients' features in a slavish or servile manner, Vermeyen produced highly expressive and lively character sketches, their import often enhanced by the eloquent hand gestures that are so characteristic of this artist. His satirical depiction of the Dean of the Utrecht Chapter of St Mary, Herman van Gouda (Horn, fig. A82) is a most unusual portrait for the period. Hoogewerff had already recounted that the origin of this curious work lay in a quarrel in 1544 between Herman van Gouda and his colleague Jan van Scorel, the former having made some remark that the latter deliberately misunderstood ("I no longer know cat from dog"), which supposedly accounted for the inclusion of a monkey (the Dutch for cat being kat, and for the guenon monkey, meerkat) and a dog in the portrait.7 The reader will easily fall in with Horn's view that Herman van Gouda cannot have sat for Vermeyen; indeed, the painter would appear to have had a hearty dislike for his subject.

7 G.J. Hoogewerff, De Noord-Nederlandsche schilderkunst, vol. 4, The Hague 1941, pp. 269-70.

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