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Jan de Beer (?Antwerp c. 1475-1528 or earlier) and Workshop
Jan de Beer (Antwerp c. 1475-1528 or earlier) and Workshop

The Lamentation

Jan de Beer (Antwerp c. 1475-1528 or earlier) and Workshop
The Lamentation
oil on panel, arched top
21 3/8 x 15 5/8 in. (54.3 x 39.7 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Rosen, Berlin, 18 November 1957, lot 19.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, Amsterdam, 9 May 2001, lot 106, as Master of the Martyrdom of Saint John, where acquired by the present owner.
D. Ewing, The Paintings and Drawings of Jan de Beer, Ph. D. dissertation, 1978, I, p. 141, II, p. 308, no. 27, fig. 74.
P. van den Brink, 'The Artist at Work: the crucial role of drawings in early sixteenth-century Antwerp workshops', Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 2004-2005, p. 168.
D. van Wegen, Het Vlaamse schilderkunstboek, Zwolle, 2005, pp. 68-69, illustrated.
L. Campbell, The Sixteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings with French Paintings before 1600, New Haven, 2014, pp. 664 and 666, note 11.
D. Ewing, 'Meister A.M. und Jan de Beer: Die Beweinung Christi im Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum', Aachener Kunstblätter, LXVI, 2014-2017, p. 105, fig. 6, as Workshop of Jan de Beer.
D. Ewing, Jan de Beer Gothic Renewal in Renaissance Antwerp, Belgium, 2016, pp. 239-241, 328-329, fig. 218, illustrated, as Workshop of Jan de Beer.

Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum, 2005, on loan.
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten and Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum, ExtravagAnt!: een kwarteeuw Antwerpse Schilderkunst herontdekt 1500-1530, 15 October 2005-9 April 2006, no. 23 (catalogue note by D. Ewing).
Aachen, Suermondt-Ludwig Museum, 2006-2013, on loan.
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Firenze e gli antichi Paesi Bassi 1430-1530: dialoghi tra artisti: da Jan van Eyck a Ghirlandaio, da Memling a Raffaello..., 20 June-26 October 2008, no. 62.

Lot Essay

Jan de Beer was one of the greatest and most talented painters associated with a group of largely anonymous artists active in the early 16th century who today are collectively known as the Antwerp Mannerists. Works by de Beer are exceptionally rare, with only around two dozen paintings, all of which, like the present lot, depict religious subjects. De Beer’s paintings are celebrated for his sophisticated and refined use of saturated colors as well as the psychological depth of his figures. Like his fellow Antwerp Mannerists, his paintings combine traditional Flemish naturalism with exuberant decorative details - especially in the form of fantastic costumes - and capricious, often Italianate, architectural inventions.
Executed in a rich palette of deep blues and greens, this small devotional panel representing the moment of grief and reflection after Christ has been taken down from the cross, was first linked to De Beer by Friedrich Winkler in 1973 (according to a certificate in the archives of Gallery P. de Boer, Amsterdam). Dan Ewing dates the panel on stylistic grounds to late in the artist’s career, proposing that it was painted between the mid-1520s and the artist’s death in 1528 (op. cit., exhibition catalogue, 2005, p. 70). The painting of one of three intimately-scaled panels by de Beer, each measuring under 55 x 40 cm., that all represent the Lamentation with strikingly similar compositions. In addition to the present lot, this group includes a painting in the Galleria Sabauda and the central panel of a triptych in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Ewing notes that all three of these paintings 'have a freer style, more delicate figures, and a more emotive expressionism than others in the artist’s oeuvre or associated with his workshop, and they stand in striking contrast to the formality and imposing figures of his larger works during these years’ (ibid.).
As Ewing has observed, the present lot combines passages from both the Turin and Berlin panels. As in the Turin panel, here the figures are organized into a tight group in the foreground: Joseph of Arimathea supports the body of Christ at right while a standing figure of Saint John the Evangelist, with windswept robes fluttering behind him, provides comfort to the Virgin at center. Between them in the present panel stands a grieving young woman dressed in an exotic costume, perhaps Mary Salome or Mary Cleophas, who looks directly out at the viewer. The morning figure by her side is likely Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Mary Magdalene kneels at Christ’s feet, identifiable by her jar of ointment, while Nicodemus stands at left, holding the Crown of Thorns and hammer, symbols of Christ’s Passion. The background landscape at right, with its rocky outcroppings and Italianate, crenellated towers, as well as the single tree that rises up before it, exactly duplicates that of the Berlin painting, so much so in fact that Ewing posits that both were based on a drawing that was kept in de Beer’s workshop expressly for this purpose (ibid.). A contemporary Italian drawing, alternately attributed to Jacopo Sansovino or Puligo (Uffizi, Florence) also records this landscape, and seems to have been used for three versions of the Sacrifice of Isaac painted by Andrea del Sarto and his studio, the primary of which was painted for Francis I of France and is dated to circa 1527 (fig. 1; Gemäldegalerie, Dresden; the two other versions are in The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museo del Prado, Madrid; ibid., pp. 70, 72 note 8).
While noting that this painting 'forcefully registers de Beer’s aesthetic character and appeal, and projects a tender delicacy and affect’, based on comparison with the Berlin and Turin panels Ewing concludes that it was probably executed by de Beer together with a skilled assistant well-versed in his style (ibid.). As a possible candidate for this second hand, the scholar suggests Aert de Beer, Jan’s son. Aert was born around 1509 and became an Antwerp master in 1529. Following his father’s death, Aert likely inherited his father’s workshop, in which he is thought to have taken on a young Lambert Lombard as an apprentice.

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