A lost fifteenth-century drawing rediscovered: Donors Kneeling in Adoration before the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
band decorated with vegetal motifs. The flowers which
fill the backdrops – dotted between the architectural
elements – are also a common feature of tapestries.
There is, furthermore, the staggered distribution of
courtiers, the spread of the draperies, and above all,
the lack of detail on the faces, which the weavers would
have been able to incorporate (on the basis of models
supplied by the painter) at a later stage. Furthermore,
the compositional scheme, with a structure divided
by columns, laying the scenes out in a triptych, evokes
tapestries simulating an altarpiece (fig. 10). This
type of tapestry, of which many were produced in
the southern Netherlands in the second half of the
fifteenth century, was very popular at the European
courts. My conclusion that the drawing could be a rare
example of a surviving petit patron or small cartoon for
an “altarpiece tapestry”, to submit as a model to the
patron, was supported by several tapestry specialists.13
Fig. 10 / Brussels workshop,
Fulfillment of the Prophecies
at the Birth of Christ, before
1509, gold, wool, and silk,
360 x 446 cm, Madrid, Palacio
Fritz Koreny, who saw the Bacri design after its sale in
Paris in 2017, proposed an alternative theory: that the
drawing was either a project for a funerary monument
to be executed in stone or to be engraved on a brass (or,
less often, copper) plate; or perhaps, given the high level
of execution and the use of wash, a copy of a votive
monument by a painter. However, I believe that the
absence of a funerary inscription on the perimeter
of the composition discredits this proposal, as I will
discuss further below. Based on its iconography, Koreny
furthermore situated the drawing in the context of a
donation to a brotherhood dedicated to Saint Anne, whose
cult was widespread in the Netherlands in the late fifteenth
century; this scholar identified in the kneeling figures
a group portrait of the members of this brotherhood,
suggesting that other men in prayer would have occupied
the right section that has now disappeared.14
The identification of the main character as Anselme
Adornes, based on the obvious morphological similarities
with his portrait in the Bruges drawing, and on the
presence of the seven male characters, corresponding
to the probable number of his sons, is convincing.
On the other hand, the fact that he is represented in
prayer before the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
does suggest a link with the brotherhood. Archival
sources indicate that the family did indeed have a close
relationship with the charterhouses of Sint-Anna-terWoestijne (Sainte Anne of the Desert) outside Bruges.
A lost fifteenth-century drawing rediscovered: Donors Kneeling in Adoration before the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
A commission by Anselme Adornes or a member of
his family of a commemorative work for this religious
institution seems plausible and justifies the presentation
of the donor praying before Saint Anne and the Virgin.
Fig. 11a / Anonymous, funerary
monument of Kateline Daut, ca.
1460-1461, copper plate, 152
x 90 cm, Bruges, Saint Jacques
Fig. 11b / Anonymous,
funerary monument of Jacob
Schalawaerts, ca. 1483, copper
plate, 209 x 110 cm, Bruges,
Saint Saviour's Cathedral.
Fig. 11c / Anonymous, funerary
monument of Jehan de
Liedekerke and Joanna de le
Douve, ca. 1519, copper plate,
244 x 136 cm, Bruges, Saint
Saviour's Cathedral.
This led me to investigate the field of funerary
monuments, and in particular memorial brasses, to
look for examples that relate to the Bacri drawing.15
As it seems too detailed to constitute a model for a
work in stone, I instead began to think about it as a
possible study for an engraved memorial brass, a type
of monument which was very popular in fifteenthcentury Bruges.16 I discovered that no original models
on paper or parchment for works of this kind have
survived, even if they must have originally been
plentiful in the workshops of tombstone carvers.17
All that survives are copied drawings of funerary
monuments. These could certainly help us to study the
typology of the tombs, but not to characterize their
style. Moreover, they are totally different, in their dry
execution, from the fluid style of the Bacri drawing.
It became clear that the best way to approach
the problem was to do a comparative study of the
drawing and metalwork tombs, especially those
remaining in Bruges, to identify their common
elements.18 In the drawing there are quatrefoils at
the corners and centre of the strip that frames the
composition. The central quatrefoil is bound by two
narrow listels and a thin continuous stem which goes
through the centre and around which acanthus leaves
curl (see fig. 8). The background of the composition
is decorated with textile motifs that evoke the cloth of
honour or canopy present in contemporary paintings
from Bruges and Brussels. All of these elements also
appear in metalwork tombs. However, on surviving
brasses with a typology like that of the drawing,
the quatrefoils are decorated with either a heraldic
emblem, a scene, or a carved pattern. They never
present an empty shield as in the drawing. In addition,
in all the brasses, acanthus leaves, often smaller, but
also wound along a stem, adorn a narrow border that
precedes the band or two borders that surround it (see
figs. 8a & b). The band, on the other hand, consists
of a solid surface that bears, without exception,
the epitaph of the deceased on the perimeter of the
composition, the characters of the lettering varying
according to the period (figs. 11a, b & c).


Powered by

Full screen Click to read
Paperturn flip book
Download as PDF
Shopping cart
Full screen
Exit full screen