Colnaghi Foundation Journal 04 - Page 61

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
Michael Rohlmann, Auftragskunst und Sammlerbild:
Altniederländische Tafelmalerei im Florenz des Quattrocento
(Alfter: VDG, 1994), pp. 15-26; Jean C. Wilson,
Painting in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages: Studies
in Society and Visual Culture (University Park, PA: Penn
State University Press 1998), pp. 41-84.
For the presence of foreign merchants in Bruges, see
Andrew Brown and Jan Dumolyn eds., Medieval Bruges,
c. 850-1550 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2018), pp. 210-217; on their role as patrons of the art
see Maximiliaan P.J. Martens, Artistic Patronage in Bruges
Institutions c. 1440-1482 (PhD Dissertation, University
of California at Santa Barbara 1992), pp. 262-319;
Maximiliaan P.J. Martens, “Hans Memling and his
Patrons: A Cliometrical Approach,” in Memling Studies,
eds. Hélène Verougstraete et al. (Leuven: Peeters,
1997), pp. 14-29; Paula Nuttall, From Flanders to Florence
(New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2004),
pp. 51-75; Claire Challeat, Dalle Fiandre a Napoli:
Committenza artistica, politica, diplomazia al tempo di Alfonso
il Magnanimo e Filippo il Buono (Rome: Bretschneider,
2012), pp. 21-42; Federica Veratelli, À la mode italienne.
Commerce du luxe et diplomatie dans les Pays-Bas méridionaux,
1477-1530 (Lille: Septentrion Presses Universitaires,
2013), pp. 39-65.
The patrons and/or early owners of paintings by Jan
van Eyck included Giovanni di Nicolaio Arnolfini,
a member of the Giustiniani and Lomellini families
from Genoa, as well as Anselm Adornes, a Bruges
patrician with Genoese roots.
Noura Dirani, “Zwischen Brügge und Chieri. Die
Stiftungen der Familie Villa für die italienische
Heimat,” in: Das Bild als Ereignis: Zur Lesbarkeit
spätmittelalterlicher Kunst mit Hans-Georg Gadamer,
eds. Dominic E. Delarue et al (Heidelberg:
Universitätsverlag Winter, 2012), pp. 455-475; TillHolger Borchert, “Memling und Italien,” in Artistic
Innovations and Cultural Zones, ed. Ingrid Ciulisová
(Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2014), pp.135-161.
The term “publicly” doesn’t mean that all images
were accessible to everyone but rather that each
context – the semi-public one which was the church
and the private one which included the oratory – had
its own public.
This is the case with Memling: after the painter
received the prestigious commission of the Triptych
of the Last Judgment by the Florentine banker Angelo
Tani in about 1467, other members of the Florentine
nation, such as Tommaso Portinari, ordered
Memling’s paintings. See Till-Holger Borchert,
Memling: Rinascimento Fiammingo, exh. cat. (Rome:
Scuderia di Quirinale, 2014), pp. 28-32.
Even though Marcus van Vaernewyck and Karel
Van Mander mention unfinished wings with Old
Testament scenes in their description of Jan van
Eyck’s lost Maelbeke Madonna from Ypres, it is more
than likely that these wings were, in fact, modern
additions. See Susan Frances Jones, “New Evidence
for the Date, Function and Historical Significance
of Jan van Eyck’s ‘Van Maelbeke Virgin,’ Burlington
Magazine 158 (2006): p. 77, and Till-Holger Borchert,
Van Eyck to Dürer: The Influence of Early Netherlandish
Painting on European Art, 1430-1530 (London: Thames
and Hudson, 2010), p. 155.
The small triptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints
Philip and Agnes by Donato de’Bardi, now in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, is generally considered
to reflect – not on a formal level alone – influences from
the North alongside those from Lombardy and Venice.
See, for example, Giuliana Algeri, “Testimonianze e
presenze fiamminghe nella piturra del Quattrocento,”
in Pittura Fiamminga in Liguria secoli XIV-XVII, eds. Piero
Boccardo and Clario di Fabio (Cinsinello Balsamo:
Silvana, 1997), p. 39; and Mauro Natale, El Renascimento
Mediterraneo, exh. cat. (Madrid: Museo Thyssen
Bornemisza, 2001), pp. 429-431.
The triptych was sold in 1627 as part of the Gonzaga
collection to King Charles I of England and was
bought at the king’s sale in 1650 by Everhard Jabach
from Paris. It then entered the collection of the Electors
of Saxony before the mid-eighteenth century and
remains today in the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden. See
Uta Neidhardt and Thomas Ketelsen, Das Geheimnis
des Jan van Eyck: Die frühen niederländischen Gemälde und
Zeichnungen in Dresden, exh. cat. (Dresden: Staatliche
Kunstsammlungen, 2005), pp. 14-21, 177-180.
This phenomenon is studied comprehensively by
Victor M. Schmidt, Painted Piety: Panel Paintings for
Personal Devotion in Tuscany 1250-1400 (Florence:
Centro Di, 2005).
Schmidt, Painted Piety, pp. 205-272.
See Stephen N. Fliegel and Sophie Jugie, Art from the
Courts of Burgundy: The Patronage of Philip the Bold and
Jean the Fearless (1364-1419), exh. catalogue (Dijon and
Cleveland: Musée des Beaux Arts and The Cleveland
Museum of Art, 2004-2005), pp. 198-207; Schmidt,
Painted Piety, pp. 314-323. Van Eyck’s composition is
close to the epitaph Virgin and Child with Canon Joris
van der Paele of 1436 (Bruges, Groeningemuseum)
but here the figures are spread over three panels; it
is noteworthy that the inscription on the frame still
emulates that of memorial brasses. See Douglas Brine,
Pious Memories: Wall-Mounted Memorials in the Burgundian
Netherlands (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 202-207.
Carol J. Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), pp. 127143, especially p. 141.
Simon de Lalaing, Geoffrey de Thoisy and Jean de
Wavrin, all members of an Burgundian embassy
to Rome in 1463, obtained the papal privilege to
use a portable altar; whereas de Thoisy managed
to extend this privilege to his sons, Jean de Wavrin
received permission to use the portable altar on board
a ship. See Malte Pritzel, Guillaume Fillastre der Jüngere
(1400/07-1473): Kirchenfürst und herzoglich-burgundischer
Rat (Stuttgart: Jan Thorbeke Verlag, 2001), pp. 292.
My preliminary, short, and incomplete consultations
of the Supplicationes in the Vatican archives in 2014
for the year 1436 has unfortunately not yielded
information that could point to the possible donor
depicted by Van Eyck.
Neidhardt and Ketelsen, Das Geheimnis, pp. 21 and 180.
Edoardo Grendi, “Profilo Storico degli alberghi
Genovese,” Mélanges de l’Ecole Française de Rome 87
(1975): pp. 291-292; Jacques Heers, Genova nell ‘400:
Civiltà mediterranea, grande capitalism e capitalismo populare
(Milan: Jaca Books, 1991), pp. 335-341.
Heers, Genova nell ‘400, pp. 250-254; Giovanna Petti
Balbi, Una città e il suo mare: Genova nel Medioevo (Bologna:
CLUEB Editrice, 1991), p. 231. Families in the albergo
Giustinani included among others the Arangi, De
Banca, Bonici, and De Castro. See Giovanni Andrea
Ascheri, Notizie Storiche intorno alla riunione delle famiglie in
alberghi in Genova (Genoa: Faziola, 1846), p. 8.
Raymond de Roovere, The Rise and Fall of the Medici
Bank: 1397-1494 (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard
University Press 1963), pp. 152-153; Giovanna Petti
Balbi, Mercanti e nationes nelle Fiandre: I genovesi in età
bassomedievale (Pisa: GISEM, Edizioni ETS, 1996).
See Balbi, Mercanti, pp. 82-84: it should be noted that
the records are only referring to residents of Bruges.
The Genoese who were staying outside of Bruges
in Sluis or Damme – the ports of Bruges – have
been included in the study of Renée Doehaerd and
Charles Kerremans, Les relations commerciales entre
Gênes, la Belgique et l’outremont d’aprés es archives notairales
Génoises 1400-1440 (Brussels and Rome: Academia
Belgica, 1952). The majority of the Genoese in Sluis
were connected to maritime activities, and included
captains as well as members of the ships’ crews.
Also see Jacques Paviot, La politique navale des Ducs de
Bourgogne 1384/1482 (Lille: Presses Universitaires,
1995), pp. 308-309.
Roberto Weiss, “Jan van Eyck and the Italians, I,”
Italian Studies 11 (1956): pp. 1-2.
Albert Châtelet, Jan et Hubert van Eyck (Dijon: Editions
Faton, 2011), pp. 147 and 271.
Noëlle L. W. Streeton, “Jan van Eyck’s Dresden
Triptych: New Evidence for the Giustiniani of Genoa
in the Borromini Ledger for Bruges,” Journal of
Historian of Netherlandish Art 3:1 Winter (2011): DOI
10.5092/jhna.2011.3.1.1. (accessed autumn 2018).
Streeton’s attempt to explain the archangel’s presence
as a reference to the Orthodox rites on Chios is
unconvincing, even in the light that representatives
of the orthodox Church participated at the council of
One of the account holders was Giovanni di Arrigo
Arnolfini, whose cousin Giovanni di Nicolaio is
likely the patron of the so-called Arnolfini Double
portrait in the National Gallery in London. The
ledgers can be consulted online http://www.
default.html for the years 1436-1438.
Streeton, “Jan van Eyck’s Dresden Triptych.”
The coat of arms (illustrated in Neidhardt and
Ketselsen, Das Geheimnis, p. 180) shows a cross formed
by red cubes on a blue ground. It should also be noted
that in 1437 the city of Bruges rose up against the
Burgundian Duke. The court abandoned its residence
and courtiers like Pieter Bladelin fled the city. See
Dumolyn and Brown, Medieval Bruges, p. 304-306.
As court painter to the Duke of Burgundy, it is likely
that Van Eyck left Bruges together with other persons
closely associated with the Duke’s court at this critical
moment. and that he produced the triptych elsewhere.
As suggested above, the second coat of arms could
perhaps refer to the original family name of the
donor. Comparing it to the presence of the two arms
on the frame of Van Eyck’s Virgin of Canon Joris van der
Paele, one might even speculate that donor could have
been an illegitimate offspring who made his fortune.
Michael Baxandall, “Bartholomaeus Facius on
Painting: A Fifteenth-Century Manuscript of the De
Viris Illustribus,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes 27 (1964): pp. 102-103: “Eius est tabula insignis
in penetralibus alfonsi regis, in qua est Maria virgo ipsa
venustate ac verecundia notabilis, Gabriel angelus dei filium ex
ea nascitarum annuntians excelleni pulchritudine capillis verso
vincentibus, Iohannes baptista vitae sanctitatem et austeritatem
admirabilem prae se ferens, Hieronymus viventi persimilis,
bibliotheca mirae artis, quippe qua, si paulam ab ea discedas,
videatur introrsus recedere et totos libros pandere, quorum capita
modo appropinquanti appareant. In eiusdem tabulae exterior
parte pictus est baptista lomelinus, cuius fuit pisa tabula, cui
solam vocem deesse iudices, et mulier, quam amabat praestanti
forma, et ipsa, qualis erat, ad unguem expressa, inter quos solis
radius veluti per rimam illabebatur, quem verum solem putes.”
Facio’s remark that the donor’s portrait was painted
in such a realistic way that it lacked only breath is
a literary commonplace as is his description of the
illusionistic character of the library which clearly
refers to classical notions of trompe-l’oeil; see Nuttall,
From Flanders to Florence, pp. 36-37.
See Paolo Viti, stemma “Bartolomeo Facio,” in
Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 44 (Rome: Istituto
dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 1994). Also see Alan Ryder,
Alfonso the Magnanimous: King of Aragon, Naples and Sicily
1396-1458 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), pp. 324-326.
Maria Clelia Galassi, “Jan van Eyck’s Genoese
Commissions: The Lost Triptych of Battista
Lomellini,” in Van Eyck Studies. Papers Presented at
the Eighteenth Symposium for the Study of Underdrawing
and Technology in Painting, Brussels, 19-21 September
2012, eds. Christina Currie et al. (Leuven: Peeters,
2017), pp. 483-485. On the restricted accessibility
of the Lomellini Triptych in Naples, see Gabriella
Befani Canfield, “The Reception of Flemish Art in
Renaissance Florence and Naples,” in Petrus Christus
in Renaissance Bruges: An Interdisciplinary Approach, ed.
Maryan Ainsworth (Turnhout: Brepols, 1995), pp. 36,
and Andreas Beyer, “Princes, Patrons and Eclecticism:
Naples and the North,” in The Age of Van Eyck: The
Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting
1430-1530, ed. Till-Holger Borchert, exh. cat.(Bruges:
Groeningemuseum, 2002), pp. 124-125.
32. 1436 has been suggested as date for the triptych, see
Fausto Nicolini, L’arte napoletana del Rinascimento a la
lettera di Pietro Summonte a Marcantonio Michiel (Naples:
Ricciardi, 1925), pp. 227-230. It is not clear on what
this date is based.
33. Other examples include Rogier van der Weyden’s
Polyptych of the Last Judgement in Beaune, Hans
Memling’s Triptych of the Last Judgment in Gdansk and
his Triptych of the two Saint Johns in Bruges.
34. Weiss, Van Eyck and the Italians, p. 3.
35. Weiss, Van Eyck and the Italians, p. 2-4; Châtelet, Van Eyck,
pp. 272; Galassi, Genoese Commissions, pp. 483-484. It
should be noted that there during Van Eyck’s lifetime,
there are at least four members of the Lomellini clan
with the name Battista, Batista or Baptista: Battista,
son of Battista (see infra), Batista di Napoleonis (see
Doehaerd and Kerremans, Les relations commerciales, p.71:
1410), Batista di Vicentis (p. 538: 1431), or Pietro Batista
di Pauli (p. 577: 1433); for Battista di Napoleone and
Battista di Battista, see Natale Battilana, Genealogie
delle famiglie nobili genovesi, vol. 3 (Genoa: Fratelli
Pagano, 1833) sub. Lomellini, pl. 31; Ferdinando
Bologna, Napoli e le rotte mediterranee della pittura da
Alfonso il Magnimo à Ferdinando il Cattolico (Naples: Societa
Napolitana di storia patria, 1970), pp. 61-62, contributed
to the confusion by referring to Van Eyck’s patron as
Giambattista, a mistake I, regrettably, repeated in my
essay “Antonello da Messina e la pittura fiamminga,”
in Antonello da Messina: l’opera complete, ed. Mauro Lucco,
exh. cat. (Rome: Scuderia di Quirinale, 2006), pp. 29-30.
36. Riccardo Busso, stemma “Battista Lomellini” in
Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 65 (Rome: Istituto
dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 2005).
37. The power of attorney concerns the activities of the
deceased businessman Craveotus Lercarius, and was
given on behalf of the widow Orieta and the two sons
Andrea and Lucianus who belonged to the chapter of
Santa Maria di Castello in Genova. The document
was drawn up on 17 July 1409 by the notary Antonio
Foglietta. See Doehaerd and Kerremans, Les relations
commerciales, pp. 3-4.
38. Doehaerd and Kerremans, Les relations commerciales,
pp. 366-367, 390-392, 395-396,428, 434-435, 541;
Battista di Battista was also involved in providing a
loan of more than 12,000 francs from the Lomellini
clan to the Burgundian Duke John the Fearless in
Paris in 1410, against which the court pledged jewels
as security (Doehaerd and Kerremans, p. 231-233);
on Genoese naval insurance business on routes to
Flanders and England, see Doehaerd and Kerremans,
Les relations commerciales, and Oscar Gelderblom, Cities
of Commerce: The Institutional Foundations of International
Trade in the Low Countries 1250-1650 (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2013), pp. 186-194. Also
see Heers, Genova nel ‘400, pp. 271-289.
39. Doehaerd and Kerremans, Les relations commerciales, pp.
606-607: ‘heredum quondam Baptiste Lomellini’. The first
of the two records confirms a transfer of power of
attorney to a representative in Bruges.
40. Doehaerd and Kerremans, Les relations commerciales,
pp. 125, 232, 343, 351, 353-354,360-362, 404, 423,
434, 440, 457-458, 466, 529; his first underwriting
concerned a shipment from Southampton to Naples
in 1412, from the mid 1420s on he was more regularly
recorded for insuring ships departing from the ports of
Sluis, Southampton, Genova, Cadiz, Chios and Foça;
in addition, he was involved in a financial transaction
regarding jewels that were acquired by Nicolo Cattaneo
in London or Bruges in October 1412 (p. 145-147).
Châtelet, Hubert et Jan van Eyck, p. 272 also mentions
that he acted as protector of the Office of the Banca di
San Giorgio, but fails to mention the source.
41. The insurance records published by Doehard and
Kerremans in Les relations commerciales that concern
either Battista di Giorgio or Battista di Battista were
typically certified by the Genoese notary Branca
Bagnara, who didn’t always make the distinction.
42. Cornelio Desimoni and Luigi Tommaso
Belgrano, “Documenti ed estratti inedita o poco
noti riguardante la storia del commercio e della
navigazione ligure. I: Brabante, Fiandria e Borgogna,”
Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria 5 (1867): p. 413,
doc. 54. It is unknown how long Gerolamo remained
in Bruges but the fact that he had two accounta with
the Borromeo Bank in Bruges in 1437 and 1438 – one
he shared with Raffaele Giustiniani – indicates that he
stayed there for longer, see Galassi, Genoese Commissions,
p. 484 and http://www.queenmaryhistoricalresearch.
43. That Gerolamo commissioned the triptych for his
brother has been suggested by Châtelet, Hubert et Jean
van Eyck, p. 272, because of the depiction of Saint
Jerome – his namesake – on one of the wings, see infra.
44. Alain Girardot, “René d’Anjou: une vie,” in Le Roi
René dans tous ses États, eds. Jean-Michel Matz et al.
(Paris: Éditions du Patrimoine, 2009), pp. 27-33;
Ryder, Alfonso the Magnanimous, pp. 210-251.
45. On Alfonso’s siege of Gaeta and the battle before the Isle
of Ponza, see Ryder, Alfonso the Magnanimous, pp. 200-205.
46. Amedeo Femiello, “Naples dans l’aventure italienne”,
in Le Roi René, pp.100-123.
47. Albert Leroy de La Marche, Le roi René, sa vie, son
administration, ses travaux artistiques et littéraires d’après des
documents inédits (Paris: Firmix-Didot, 1875), I, p. 219;
Châtelet, Hubert et Jean van Eyck, p.272.
48. Bartolomeo Facio, Rerum gestarum Alfonsi regis libri.
Testo latino, traduzione italiana, commento e introduzione di
Danielle Pietrangella (Alessandria: Ed. Dell’Orso, 2004),
pp. 368-369; see also the summary by Galassi, Genoese
Commissions, p. 485.
49. Weiss, Van Eyck and the Italians, pp. 9-10; Alfonso
probably first encountered works by Van Eyck
during two Burgundian embassies in 1426 and 1427
even though the painter did not participate in these
missions. See Monique Sommé, Isabella de Portugal,
Duchesse de Bourgogne: Une femme a pouvoir au XVe siècle
(Lille: Septentrion, 1998), pp. 25-26; his taste in
Flemish painting is discussed by Margaret Anne


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