One of only four drawings known by this rare and accomplished draughtsman, this striking bird's eye view of the 1st-Century Roman amphitheatre at Pozzuoli is executed with a blend of topographical accuracy and Mannerist fantasy. On the left lies the fortified village of Pozzuoli, while in the foreground fishermen's houses and fishing nets can be seen; in the background the island of Capri is shown much closer than in reality, to emphasise the rugged landscape. Stinemolen has exaggerated the dramatic mountainous setting, and his characteristic technique, with curving strokes of chalk, helps to emphasise the impact of the view. A concern for the clarity of line in the foreground, seen in the detail of the amphitheatre or in the turfs of grass growing in the ruins, gives way to a Leonardesque sfumato in the distance. It is strikingly similar to a view of Pozzuoli executed around the same date by Hendrick van Cleve (1551-1589) and engraved by Philips Galle, which shows many of the same features (Fig. 1). Indeed Stinemolen's two other known drawings also show views in the region of Naples: a signed View of the Island of Ponza in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (Andrews, op. cit., no. D1205); a View of Ricardo, Monte Maggiore and the Valley of Capua in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (van Regteren Altena, op. cit., I, p. 96, fig. 72); and a Panorama of Naples in the Albertina, Vienna (K.A. Schroeder and C. Metzger, Bosch, Brueghel, Rubens, Rembrandt: Masterpieces of the Albertina, Vienna, 2013, no. 133). The latter drawing, which is signed and dated 1582, extends as far as Pozzuoli on the right-hand side of the sheet, and the topography, with its curving bay and the amphitheatre shown in miniature, is remarkably similar to that seen on the present sheet, down to the presence of a small rocky island in the bay which no longer exists (Fig. 2). It may be that Stinemolen used this drawing as one of several studies which he combined to create the larger panorama in Vienna.
I.Q. van Regteren Altena was responsible for rediscovering Jan van Stinemolen, to whom he dedicated one of his articles on 'forgotten' artists ('Vergeten Namen: III: Staynemer of Stinemolen?', Oud Holland, XLIX, 1932, pp. 91-6). Since there is no mention of this drawing in the article, it would seem likely that it entered his collection after 1932. His research was used as the foundation for Monballieu's 1978 article (op. cit.), which compiled the limited documentary and biographical evidence about the artist. Born and brought up in Mechelen, Stinemolen was the son of a wealthy goldsmith and the younger brother of Peeter van Stinemolen, a panel- and glass-painter. The young Stinemolen trained with his brother after their father's early death, and was registered as an apprentice in the Guild of Saint Luke in 1533, although nothing further is recorded about his area of specialisation or when he left his brother's studio to work alone. No paintings survive by him, and although he is now best known for his intricately-detailed landscape drawings he may have worked professionally as a goldsmith and jeweller. After 1533 nothing more is known of him until he is mentioned in a document of 1554, by which point he was living in Rome. It is not clear how long he had been in Italy, although his name has been associated with the commission in 1550 of a stained-glass window for the Roman church of Santa Maria dell' Anima. Stinemolen returned briefly to Mechelen in 1561, where he was involved in a legal case over an inheritance, but by 1567 he seems to have settled decisively in Antwerp, where he married his second wife, the widow of a local silversmith. He is consistently documented in Antwerp until 1585, although judging by the date of 1582 on the Albertina Panorama of Naples he must have made at least one trip to Italy during this time. After 1585 he may have moved back to Mechelen, where he died in 1589. He clearly regarded Italy as his home in the 1550s and 1560s because his first wife and children seem to have lived there with him. His daughter married another Mechelen-born, Italian-based artist, named by Monballieu as 'Pauwels Scheppers', who by 1567 was living and working in Naples.
It is tempting to identify Scheppers with the Flemish artist Pablo Scheppers (also called Esquert or Eschepers) (fl. 1559-1575), who was trained in Venice and is first documented working in Saragossa in the service of the Duke of Villahermosa in 1569, dying in Spain around ten years later. Naples was, after all, a Spanish possession. Pablo Scheppers's widow is named as Catalina Estanmolín, which sounds tantalisingly close to a Spanish version of 'Stinemolen'. Her brother Silvestre Estanmolín (also called Stamolín Silvestro) was also in Spain at this date, working as an artist alongside Scheppers (fl. 1577-1608). Documents give Silvestre's place of birth as Rome and, given his dates of activity, he could well have been born in the 1550s, just at the time Stinemolen and his family were living in Rome.
Although he has now fallen into relative obscurity, Stinemolen was highly regarded by his contemporaries, who admired not only his technique but his topographical accuracy. For example, Jacques de Gheyn II made a faithful copy of the View of Ricardo, Monte Maggiore and the Valley of Capua in Stockholm; that copy is now in the Morgan Library, New York (Stampfle and Turner, op. cit., no. 62). The cartographer Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) was also particularly keen to acquire drawings by Stinemolen, with a view to using them for the great atlas the Civitates Orbis Terrarum (published 1572-1617). There is no evidence that any of the few surviving drawings were used, but Ortelius certainly did own drawings by the master: in 1593 the artist Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601) wrote to congratulate his friend on having acquired several works by ‘Stinemeulen’.