Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 45



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The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
The impact of Jan van Eyck’s lost Lomellini Triptych and his Genoese patrons
The scene takes place inside a church, the depiction
of which is somewhat reminiscent of Van Eyck’s The
Virgin in the Church (now in the Staatliche Museen,
Berlin) (fig. 13). In d’Eyck’s work, Gabriel approaches
the praying Virgin through a smaller annex on the
left and raises his arm in greeting. The composition
adheres to somewhat anachronistic prototypes
from Siena that were already common with Paris
illuminators around 1400. God the Father appears
above Gabriel on the roof of a portal in the company
of two angels. He sends out golden rays on which the
small Christ Child descends through a rose window
towards the kneeling Virgin. Two prophets, sculpted
in stone, are shown below baldachins on the capitals
of two pillars between which the archangel has
appeared. One of them points to God the Father to
underline the transition from the Old to the New
Covenant at the moment of the Annunciation when
Christ was incarnated.
It seems evident that the Annunciation in Aix does
not simply copy Van Eyck’s lost painting, if only
because the composition is indebted to older pictorial
conventions. But the lost painting presumably served
as source of inspiration which Barthélémy d’Eyck
transformed in a selective manner, returning to
several other Eyckian inventions like the Virgin in the
Church (for the arrangement of the church interior)
and the Ghent Altarpiece (for the depiction of the
archangel).
Fig. 13 / Jan van Eyck, The
Virgin in the Church, ca.
1438-1440, oil on panel,
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.
Nicole Reynaud has pointed out that Barthélémy
d’Eyck could only have encountered the Lomellini
Triptych in Genoa in April and May 1438, when the
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painter presumably formed part of the entourage of
René d’Anjou on his way to take the throne of Naples.
The Anjou court was welcomed with generosity by
its allies in Genoa while the f leet was prepared to
take René to his kingdom.62 If, on the other hand, the
Lomellini Triptych had remained in Genoa until the
early 1450s, then Barthélémy d’Eyck could have seen
it at any moment after René’s defeat in 1442, at a time
much closer to Pierre Corpici’s commission.
Although it has long been recognized that a
monumental mural of the Annunciation in the
cloister of the Domnican church of Santa Maria di
Castello in Genoa (fig. 14) is modelled after Flemish
prototypes, some of the details point to the author’s
knowledge of the Lomellini Annunciation. The wall
painting is signed and dated on a small cartellino
painted on the open wooden door to the left (next to
which Gabriel enters the room): ‘Justus Dallemagna
1451 CRDZ’. The artist to whom Genoese documents
refer as ‘magister Justus de Ravensburga’ came from
the North and can be identified with Jos Amman, a
painter from Ravensburg.63 No other works by this
artist seem to survive and attempts to reconstruct
his oeuvre have been unsuccessful.64 Besides working
in 1450 in his own profession in Genoa, he seems
to have been active as a merchant. He had two
goldbeaters from the Low Countries working for
him – Leo of Bruges (Leo de Brujes) and Jan of Tournai
(Iohannis de Picardia de Torne) – whose work he sold for
a share of the profit, and he was involved in business
transactions with a German textile merchant residing
in Savona (Alamanus Lupus de Francaforte) which
concerned, most likely, paintings on cloth.65

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