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Joos (Josse) van Cleve (c.1485-1540)

( Originally Published 1955 )

Flemish painter identified with the Master of the Death of Mary who was named after two versions of that subject in Cologne and Munich. The Cologne version has been established as commissioned from van Cleve by Nicaise Hacquenay in 1514 and completed in the following year. Obviously from Cleves, from stylistic evidence he must have studied with Jan Joest in Calcar. He is recorded in Antwerp from 1511, when he entered the guild, to 1525, when he was a senior for the first time. From then to 1535 there is a hiatus in the records which is explained by evidence that he was traveling in Italy, France, England, and Spain, after which he reappeared in Antwerp. A fine colorist and an able portraitist, his art was at first rather bourgeois in character, but probably through the influence of Metsys and later through his travels in Italy and the courts of Europe, working for Francis I and Henry VIII, became more Italianate, aristocratic, and even Mannerist (see). In his later works, perhaps as a result of his Italian travels, the influence of Leonardo became pronounced. His style, though originally derived from the indigenous style of David, later showed so many influences that his works have been variously ascribed to Durer, Holbein, Gossaert, and van Scorel. Among the works attributed to him now are the Self-Portrait with Wife (Uffizi), formerly given to Metsys, Holy Family (Brussels), Adoration of the Magi (S. Donato in Genoa, and in Antwerp), Virgin and Child (Vienna Annunciation (private collection, Paris), Portrait of a Man (Munich), Deposition (Louvre), and the Epiphany Altar (Naples Museum).

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