Karel van Mander (Meulebeke 1548-1606 Amsterdam)
Karel van Mander (Meulebeke 1548-1606 Amsterdam)

A male nude, seen from behind

Karel van Mander (Meulebeke 1548-1606 Amsterdam)
A male nude, seen from behind
signed with monogram 'KVM'
traces of black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, indistinct watermark
6 7/8 x 5 in. (17.5 x 12.6 cm.)
The artist Antoon Johannes der Kinderen, Amsterdam (1859-1925), and by descent to his widow; by whom subsequently presented or bequeathed to I.Q. van Regteren Altena.
E. Valentiner, Karel van Mander als Maler, Strasburg, 1930, no. 43, pl. 13.
I.Q. van Regteren Altena, 'Carel van Mander', Elsevier's geïllustreerd maandschrift, XLVII, March 1937, p. 161, fig. 13.
A. Welcker, 'Karel van Mander als ontwerper voor zilversmeden', Oud Holland, LXVIII, 1953, p. 129, pl. 5.
H. Noë, Carel van Mander en Italië, The Hague, 1954, p. 197.
W. Bernt, Die Niederländischen Zeichner des 17. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 1958, no. 386.
J.G. van Gelder, 'De Noordnederlandse schilderkunst in de zestiende eeuw', in Kunstgeschiedenis der Nederlanden, Zeist-Antwerp 1963-64, IV, p. 615, pl. 7.
P.J.J. van Thiel, 'Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem as a Draughtsman', Master Drawings, III, no. 2, Summer 1965, p. 129, fig. 2.
G. Bammes, Das zeichnerische Aktstudium, Leipzig, 1968, pp. 116, 328, pl. 69.
H. Miedema, Karel van Mander: Den grondt der edel vrij schilder-const, Utrecht, 1973, II, p. 432, fig. 13.
F.F. Hofrichter, ‘The Academy and the Art’, in Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, exhib. cat., New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Art Gallery, 1983, p. 37.
W.T. Kloek, 'Northern Netherlandish Art 1580-1620: A Survey', in Dawn of the Golden Age: Northern Netherlandish Art 1580-1620, exhib. cat., Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 1993-94, p. 74, fig. 119.
M. Leesberg, 'Karel van Mander as a painter', Simiolus, XXII, 1993-94, p. 23, note 106.
H. Miedema (ed.), Karel van Mander: The Lives of the Illustrious Netherlandish and German Painters, Doornspijk, 1995, p. 137, fig. D54.
L. Hendrix, The J. Paul Getty Museum: Catalogue of the Collections: European Drawings 3, Los Angeles, 1997, p. 218, under no. 89.
P.J.J. van Thiel, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem 1562-1638: A monograph and catalogue raisonné, Doornspijk, 1999, pp. 73-4 and 161, note 7, fig. 14.
The Hague, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, Hollandse tekeningen rond 1600, 1952, no. 54, illustrated p. 32 (catalogue by M. Cramer and J.N. van Wessem).
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, De triomf van het maniërisme: de Europese stijl van Michelangelo tot El Greco, 1955, no. 214 (catalogue by R. van Luttervelt et al.).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 86, pl. 19 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).
New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Art Gallery, Haarlem: The Seventeenth Century, 1983, no. 74 (catalogue by F.F. Hofrichter).

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Lot Essay

Now best known for his Schilderboeck, which included biographies of 15th- and 16th-Century Netherlandish artists, Karel van Mander was born into a wealthy family in Meulebeke in Flanders. His humanist education included the study of poetry and painting, first with Lucas de Heere (circa 1534-1584) and then with Pieter Vlerick (1539-1581), and he showed a marked talent as a draughtsman, though only forty of his drawings survive today. At the age of 25 he set off on a study tour of Italy that would last four years, taking him to Florence, Terni and Rome. There, in Rome, he met Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611), court painter to the Emperor Rudolf II, who would have a profound impact on van Mander's artistic style and who invited van Mander to return to Vienna with him. When he eventually returned to the Netherlands, van Mander brought some of Spranger's drawings with him. Settling in Haarlem, he became friends with Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) and Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562-1638) who, like van Mander, were fascinated by the elegantly contorted figures and virtuoso poses which they saw in Spranger's art. Taking inspiration from his drawings, they developed a homogenous Mannerist artistic style which was disseminated among other artists in their circle through a drawing school, now known as the Haarlem Academy.

The Academy style was at its height between 1584 and 1592, and embraced such artists as Jacques de Gheyn II (1565-1629), Gerrit Pietersz. Sweelink (1566–1612), Jacob Matham (1571-1631), Jan Muller (1571-1628), Abraham Bloemaert (1564/66-1651) and the sculptor Adrien de Vries (circa 1556–1626). Although we know that figure studies were made during this period, both from life ('naar het leven') and from the imagination ('uit de geest'), only nine survive, including the present drawing and a very comparable study of A Female Nude by van Mander in the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (Fig. 1). None of those nine studies predates 1588 and the present drawing, along with the Getty nude, must be among the earliest examples. Van Thiel (1999, op. cit., p. 73) explains that, although the Getty Female Nude has usually been dated to circa 1590, it should be regarded as earlier; and Leesberg (op. cit.) has observed that the kind of flamboyant monogram which appears on the present drawing was first used in 1588. It is likely that the present drawing was made from the imagination rather than directly from a model, and it shows the marked influence of Spranger's style: Miedema (1973, op. cit.) especially notes the 'douwkens' or spots of ink used to delineate the figure's muscles. So named from the Dutch 'duwen', meaning to push or press, this is a technique which also appears in drawings by Goltzius and Cornelis van Haarlem at this period, and ultimately derives from Spranger's own study of works by the Zuccari in Italy. It was probably drawn as a showpiece: a virtuoso demonstration of van Mander's skill at depicting the human figure, showing the standing man (seen from behind) in the same elegant contrapposto that defines the female nude (seen from the front) at the Getty. The presence of van Mander's monogram on such a large scale, added with a noticeable flourish and utterly disproportionate to the image itself, suggests that he was particularly proud of this drawing and wished it to be considered as a work of art in its own right.

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