CF STUDIES JOURNAL 06 - Flipbook - Page 87
A lost fifteenth-century drawing rediscovered: Donors Kneeling in Adoration before the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
A lost fifteenth-century drawing rediscovered: Donors Kneeling in Adoration before the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Pen and brown ink on parchment with a brown wash,
32 x 16 cm. Title in the Hôtel Drouot sale catalogue
of 22 October 1924, lot 47: Seigneurs en adoration devant
Sainte Anne, la Vierge et l’Enfant Jésus. The drawing was
once again put up for sale at Drouot on 13 February
1939. See catalogue of the sale in Paris, Hôtel Drouot,
Dessins anciens... dessin de l’Ecole de Bruges, dessins de
Rembrandt, dessin de Titien, tableaux anciens... Pietà de l’Ecole
francaise de la fin du XIVe siecle, Christ de l’Ecole d’Avignon
du XVe siecle, composant la collection d’un amateur (Paris:
Moderne Imprimerie, 1939). See the catalogue of
Sotheby’s, Bacri Frères Antiquaires, Paris: Collection Jacques
Bacri, Paris, 30 March 2017, lot 25, p. 34.
2. At that stage it was presented as a preparatory drawing
for an illumination.
3. Catheline Périer-D’Ieteren, “Deux vidimus flamands
oubliés du XVe siècle: les dessins Adornes,” Revue de
l’Art 178/4 (2012): pp. 19-31.
4. Périer-D’Ieteren, “Deux vidimus,” pp. 19-31.
5. For detailed information on the biography of Anselme
Adornes, see Noël Geirnaert and André Vandewalle,
Adornes en Jeruzalem. Internationaal leven in het 15de-en 16deeeuwse Brugge, exh. cat. (Bruges: Jeruzalemkapel, 1983),
6. Pen drawings using iron gall ink on laid watermarked
paper, 29.7 x 11.3 cm, framed together after restoration
(Adornes Collection, inv. AD 10052). Graphite pencil
strokes can be seen along the sides of the passe-partout
and, in the drawing of Marguerite, a tentative line in
black stone, for example at the base of the niche, and to
change the height of the shield. An unidentified white
medium has been used to try and mask the corrections,
leaving a blurred appearance.
7. Katie Stevenson, “The Unicorn, St Andrew and the
Thistle,” The Scottish Historical Review 83 (2004): pp. 3-22.
The author also proposes 1469 as the year when the collar
may have been given to Anselme Adornes. However,
Adornes only returned from pilgrimage in 1470.
8. In the following text, I will use the drawing of Anselme
most often as my reference point, it being more directly
comparable to the Bacri drawing than the one of his
wife. I will also refer to the new drawing by the name of
the collection that owned it, or as “the Paris drawing”.
9. Périer-D’Ieteren, “Deux vidimus,” pp. 19-31, and Sacha
Zdanov, “Quelques précisions sur deux dessins de
la collection Adornes et sur l’oratoire de la chapelle
de Jérusalem à Bruges,” Annales de la Société royale
d’Archéologie de Bruxelles 73 (2015): pp. 10-39.
10. A similar presentation may be found in the Très Riches
Heures du Duc de Berry illustrated by Jean Colombe. The
donors, each placed alongside an Ecce Homo, are on a
dais, kneeling on carved plinths. Although the painter
of the illumination came from a family of sculptors,
the individual sculpted features are treated pictorially
and look very different to the Adornes drawings. Jean
Colombe, Le Christ de Pitié, in the Très Riches Heures du
Duc de Berry, Ms. 65, f. 75r, between 1485 and 1486,
tempera on velum, Chantilly, Musée Condé.
11. Max. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Paintings, VIb:
Hans Memling and Gerard David (Leiden and Brussels:
A.W. Sijthoff, 1971), pl. 167, and John Hand, The Saint
Anne Altarpiece by Gerard David, exh. cat. (Washington,
DC: National Gallery of Art, 1992).
However, this working hypothesis based on the function
of the drawing could only be confirmed if the missing
part of the drawing were discovered. If it turns out to
be a study for a funerary monument the missing group
would logically be that of Anselme’s wife. Its presence
would also be proof of the identity of the person
who commissioned the work. On the other hand,
if the funerary monument was given to a religious
community, a possibility that is discussed below, the
group corresponding to that of Anselme Adornes
would in all likelihood be composed of members of
A fine example of a tapestry in the form of an
altarpiece is the Triptych of the Nativity, a Brussels
tapestry dating to the end of the fifteenth century
and preserved in the Royal Palace in Madrid (inv.
10005862). Other tapestries show the influence of
altarpieces in their triptych-like composition. See
Catheline Périer-D’Ieteren and Cecilia Paredes,
“Rapport entre tapisseries et retables bruxellois,” in Age
dor bruxellois – Tapisseries de la couronne dEspagne, ed.
Arlette Smolar-Meynart, exh. cat. (Brussels: Cathédrale
des saints Michel et Gudule, 2000), pp. 113-129. PérierD’Ieteren, “Deux vidimus,” p. 31 n. 50. The specialists
who supported this conclusion are Anna Rapp Buri,
Monica Stucky-Schürer, Scot McKendrick, and Guy
When he wrote his report, Fritz Koreny had not read
the article from the Revue de l’Art in which I suggested
that the kneeling figure should be identified as Anselme
I am grateful to Noël Geirnaert (archivist) and Brigitte
Beernaert (architect) for this information. I also wish
to thank Véronique de Limburg Stirum for putting us
Bruges was a major centre for the production of
memorial brasses in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries and the city played an active part in
their trade in Europe. See Valentin Vermeersch,
Grafmonumenten te Brugge voor 1578, I: Synthese (Bruges:
Raaklijn, 1976), pp. 211-214.
Vermeersch, Synthese, pp. 185-187. Sometimes there is
reference to existing models that had to be reproduced.
Often adaptations were requested for clothing, which
had to match the fashion of the day. See Vermeersch,
Synthese, p. 197.
See for example Valentin Vermeersch, Grafmonumenten
te Brugge voor 1578, III: Catalogus (Bruges: Raaklijn,
1976), p. 483, pl. 235 and Ronald Van Belle, Corpus
Laminae: Belgische koperen graf- en gedenkplaten 1143-1925, I:
Synthese: Productie en uitstraling (Bruges: Uitgeverij van de
Wiele, 2017) and Corpus Laminae: Belgische koperen graf- en
gedenkplaten 1143-1925, II: Catalogus (Bruges: Uitgeverij
van de Wiele, 2017), pp. 479-559.
Founded in 1348, the Order was supported from the
start by the Counts of Flanders and subsequently by
the Dukes of Burgundy with whom he had excellent
relations, as he did with other senior officials of the
Bruges Court and Magistrate’s Office. See Stanislas
van O. d’Ydewalle, “Stichting van het Klooster,” in De
Kartuize Sint-Anna Ter-Woestijne te Sint-Andries en te Brugge
(1350-1792) (Brussels and Bruges: De Kinkhoren,
1945), pp. 39-49.
On becoming a widower, Pierre Adornes withdrew to
the charterhouse of Genadedal in 1452, and died there
in 1465. Six children born to his son Anselme Adornes
also entered charterhouses. They include Martin
Adornes, a monk at the Genadedal charterhouse,
and Margareta who was a nun at Sint-Anna, where
her brother Arnold Adornes, widower of Agnès van
Niewenhove, became a priest and prebendary in 1482.
See d’Ydewalle, De Kartuize, pp. 119-121.
See note 1. The reverse of the drawing carries the
words “Van Eyck”.
Vermeersch, Synthese, pp. 201-202.
Catheline Périer-D’Ieteren, “Le rôle du dessin sousjacent et de l’ébauche préparatoire au lavis dans la
genèse des peintures de l’Agneau Mystique,” 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 Publishers, 2017), p. 130, fig.
I refer the reader to the detailed stylistic study of the
Adornes drawing and its attribution to the Brussels
master, published in the Revue de lArt (see note 3 above).
Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara, Scenes from the
Life of Saint Barbara, ca. 1480, oil on panel, 73.2 x 124
cm, Brussels, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium,
inv. 6149 and oil on panel, 72.8 x 62.2 cm, Bruges,
Basilica of the Holy Blood. See Véronique Bücken
and Griet Steyaert, L’héritage de Rogier van der Weyden: la
peinture à Bruxelles 1450-1520, exh. cat. (Brussels: Royal
Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, 2013), nos. 62.1
and 62.2, pp. 270-271.
Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara, Virgin Enthroned
with Donors and Saints John the Baptist and Margaret, ca.
1465, pen and brown ink on traces of black stone,
19.5 x 27 cm, Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche
Museen zu Berlin, inv. KdZ 1965. See Stephanie Buck,
Die niederländischen Zeichnungen des 15. Jahrhunderts im
Berliner Kupferstichkabinett: Kritischer Katalog (Turnhout:
Brepols, 2001), no. I.27, pp. 185-189 and 383.
The tendency to emphasize certain contours with
a darker and stronger line is already apparent in
underdrawing by Van Eyck, notably in the drapery of
the Virgin and Child with Canon Van der Paele, and
in the entire drawing for the Mystic Lamb. See PérierD’Ieteren, “Le rôle du dessin sous-jacent,” pp. 120-135.
It is also apparent with Memling. Catheline PérierD’Ieteren, “La technique de Memling et sa place dans
l’évolution de la peinture flamande du XVe siècle,” in
Hans Memling. Essays, ed. Dirk De Vos (Brussels: Ludion,
1994), p. 70.
28. Within his oeuvre, two male portraits attributed to him
are worthy of note as characterizing the morphology
of faces in the Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara
in addition to the stylistic arguments set out above:
those of Van Cleeve and Hugo de Gros. In making the
comparisons, it should be understood that the Bacri
drawing is a model drawing and the faces would have
been quickly sketched in.
29. It is interesting to note that several memorial brasses,
of which the composition is not unlike that of the
drawing, occur during the 1480s. See for example
the plate of Jacob Schelewaerts, 1483, Saint
Jacques church in Bruges in Valentin Vermeersch,
Grafmonumenten te Brugge voor 1578, II: Catalogus (Bruges:
Raaklijn, 1976), pp. 299-300, pl. 138-140.
30. On the memorial to Jacob Adornes and the tomb of
Adornes in the Jerusalem Church, see Geirnaert and
Vandewalle, Adornes and Sacha Zdanov, “Quelques
précisions sur deux dessins de la collection Adornes et sur
l’oratoire de la chapelle de Jérusalem à Bruges,” Annales de
la Société royale d’archéologie de Bruxelles 73 (2015): pp. 9-39.
31. Vermeersch, Synthese, p. 186, Vermeersch, Catalogus, no.
468, pp. 507-509, and Van Belle, Corpus Laminae II, p.
504, fig. 692.
32. The style of the angel and the morphology of the face
are indeed very close to the manner of Van der Goes.
33. See Karl Arndt, “Zum Werk des Hugo Van der Goes,”
Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 15 (1964): pp. 8588, 97 (n. 91), and 98.
34. This would be the case of the memorial plate of
Machiele (Michiel) de Beckere and Marguerite
d’Escornaix, see Van Belle, Corpus Laminae II, pp. 560562 and pp. 737-739. The city of Tournai has been
suggested as provenance for this plate, its drawing,
attributed to the Master of the Legend of Saint
Barbara, being comparable in style to the works of
Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden. The
Chapter of Tournai frequently called upon the services
of Brussels artists, not least Rogier van der Weyden
and Jacob Sourdiaus. Brine sees many similarities
with the epitaph of Machiele de Beckere, supposedly
written by Sourdiaus who worked in the entourage of
the Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara and Aert
van den Bossche. According to the author, the drawing
style of the studio of the Master of the Legend of Saint
Barbara, with its well defined lines and meticulous
cross-hatching, was particularly well suited to engraving
in brass, see Douglas Brine, Pious Memories: The WallMounted Memorial in the Burgundian Netherlands (Leiden:
Brill, 2015), pp. 162-168. Stylistically speaking, Van
Belle is not convinced by this attribution, though he
does agree that the work is from Brussels, not least
Rogier van der Weyden and Jacob Sourdiaus. Brine
sees many similarities with the epitaph of Machiele de
Beckere, supposedly written by Sourdiaus who worked
in the entourage of the Master of the Legend of Saint
Barbara and Aert van den Bossche. According to the
author, the drawing style of the studio of the Master
of the Legend of Saint Barbara, with its well defined
lines and meticulous cross-hatching, was particularly
well suited to engraving in brass, see Douglas Brine,
Pious Memories: The Wall-Mounted Memorial in the
Burgundian Netherlands (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 162-168.
Stylistically speaking, Van Belle is not convinced by this
attribution, though he does agree that the work is from
35. Wooden models could also be provided by sculptors
for funerary monuments. A famous example is that
of Jan Borman who is credited with the model for
the recumbent figure of Mary of Burgundy for her
mausoleum at the Church of Our Lady in Bruges (ca.
36. Buck, Kritischer Katalog, I.27, pp. 185-189 and 383.
37. Sincerest thanks go to all who assisted with my
research, particularly N. Geirnaert, R. Van Belle,
B. Bernaerts and the museum curators, researchers
and art dealers who made photos available to me: V.
Bücken, Sotheby’s, Arnoldie-Livie and Hill-Stone. I
was greatly helped by exchanges with Sacha Zdanov
and Valentine Henderiks and by their critical reading
of my work. Finally, I am grateful to Sacha for the
demanding documentary work he performed with his
customary scientific rigour.