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Une oeuvre retrouvée de Hans van den Elburcht, franc-maître à Anvers en 1536

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

The origins of the Martyrdom of Saint James the Less, an anonymous painting in the convent of the Sisters of Charity at Saint-Grhislain, have been traced. It was formerly one of the wings of a triptych that stood on the altar of the Fishmongers Guild in Antwerp Cathedral until 1798. The style and type of the figures in the Martyrdom of Saint James the Less are, in fact, analogous to those in the central panel of this triptych, the Miraculous Draught of Fishes (Antwerp Cathedral) as well as in its left wing, the Baptism of the Eunuch by Saint Philip, which was recognised in 1966 by Josua Bruyn in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. The subjects of the triptych's individual panels correspond with the dedication of the Fishmongers' Altar to Saints Peter, Philip and James the Less at the end of the sixteenth century. The Martyrdom of Saint James the Less is an extremely rare subject in Early Netherlandish painting, which serves as a decisive argument for identifying the panel in Saint-Ghislain as the right wing of the triptych. The artist, Hans van den Elburcht, employed the same engraving dated 1556 for the composition of the central panel as well as for two figures in the right wing, which thus provides a Terminus post quem of 1556 for the production of the triptych. A date of execution in the 1570s is most likely, since the style of the work is close to that of compositions by Maerten de Vos of the 1560s (cf. a series of the story of Rebecca in Rouen). Consequently, Van den Elburcht's triptych probably replaced an altarpiece that was destroyed during the Iconoclastic fury of 1566.


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