Listed below are comments from members of the public who have read through and digested the website. Whether or not the mysteries can be solved collectively remains to be seen but there have been some insightful and interesting thoughts so it is only right that they are published. If you'd like to share your views please use the comment form below. All of the comments to date are presented underneath the comment form.
1. The man in red is Alessandro il Moro.
2. He is pointing at Charles V not Francis I.
3. The man in black is probably Jean van Den Dyke.
4. The woman with the rosary is probably Johanna van Den Dyke who had been in the early 1520s a mistress of Charles.
5. The two women behind the van Den Dykes could be their daughters.
6. The two men just to the left of Charles V are Charles and Adolf Bourgogne.
7. No one else is identified except that those wearing red hats are from the south, Florentines, while the black hats are from the north.
The interpretation that holds these identifications together runs like this. Pope Clement ( uncle or father) of Alessandro had arranged in 1527 Alessandro's marriage to Charles V's illegitimate daughter Margaret whose mother was Johanna van Den Dyke and had been Charles's mistress. In 1529 Charles recognised Margaret as legitimate and she became known as Margaret of Austria. Some 10-15 years later (because Margaret's half sisters are depicted as grownups), this painting may have been painted as a reminder of the 1529 event. Alessandro's accusatory finger seems to indicate that Charles reneged or stalled on his promise (Charles though plays the innocent). For Margaret to be legitimized, a legal document must have been drafted, perhaps with the help of Jean who was a jurist and member of the audit office of Brabant and dressed accordingly in black hat and robe.
The painting was probably commissioned by Jean who holds a scroll which records the promised marriage and probably the legitimacy of Margaret. Johanna watches the proceedings with concern as do her 2 daughters. As other members of Johanna's family are known to have asked for financial help from Margaret, this painting too may have been commissioned for that purpose, and in recognition of the service Jean had once rendered.
The painter remains unknown except that he or she was clearly not of the first rank and might have been in a studio with other apprentices. He probably didn't ever see Charles or Alessandro and had to paint them from prints.
None of this explains why the painting's whereabouts for 400 years remains unknown. There is some possibility that it was stolen by the Nazis who sometimes used Lepke's auction business in Berlin.
16 August 2016
Minor artist of The French School about 1545 or so. That can't be Francis I, the nose is wrong, but some of the faces may be portraits. It can't be Charles V. He is not wearing The Golden Fleece.
1 September 2016
Best I can suggest is Hans Wertinger (ca. 1465 – 1533). Another possibility is the long-lived workshop of Colijn de Coter (c. 1440 - 1532). The rocky feature in the background is very reminiscent of works by Joachim Patinir (1480 – 1524) and Herri met de Bles (c. 1510 – c. 1555–1560).
27 October 2016
I’ve been using the Microsoft website how-old.net as a way of obtaining an objective assessment of age for people in historic photographs. While people can look older or younger than their age, results are generally within a few years. This said the software can produce some surprising wrong estimates, so it has to be used with care. Additionally the software has been produced to work with photographs, not paintings. Notwithstanding reservations I thought it would be interesting to apply to this painting.
Pictures uploaded are not stored, so anyone repeating the experiment does need to upload (it is quick and free). The software cannot suggest an age for Charles V (as the face is turned away) but can suggest ages for all other figures.
Francis I appears to be 44. Born in 1494 this suggests a date of 1538. The “best” portrait is perhaps Barend van Orley, born circa 1489. His age is estimated as 44, which suggests a date of 1533. Both these ages are reasonable for the 1529 Peace of Cambrai, though they may also suggest the possibility that the event depicted is a few years later.
The ladies appear to be painted with the oldest (aged 65) in the front, with those behind aged 53 and 30. If the figure in the front is Louise of Savoy (b 1476) this suggests 1541 as the painting date. Ages for the other figures are all in different ways problematic for the proposed identification. The most extreme is the figure identified as either Carondolet (b 1473) or Duprat (1463) and therefore aged either 56 or 66 at Cambrai. The software suggests an age of 29. I think most people looking at the face in the painting would age the man at considerably less than 56 or 66; to me 30+ seems about right.
My inclination is to doubt identification with Peace of Cambrai. The landscape is presumably imaginary – the formation on the right is fantastic – which to me suggests an impression of the New World. At a venture the date is 1540 and the man in red is not Charles V but Jacques Cartier, then the captain-general of Francis I. (He does look like the man in the 1844 Hamel portrait of Jacques Cartier).
30 December 2016
Quite a fun idea! Unfortunately all I could guess about that painting is it looks Northern Renaissance and is perhaps of a betrothal.
31 December 2016
The above link is my best guess. According to the Wikipedia page most of his works were lost but were known for combining several styles and used exaggerated forshortening. Good luck on your quest! It certainly is intriguing.
2 January 2017
Wendel Dietterlin is the name I'm throwing in the pot. I'm not an art historian and my evidence is scant however this artist willingness to incorporate several styles of art into his work is the best evidence I could find as well as his unusual perspective. What is that thing in the right window anyhow?
"Dietterlin, however, showed less interest in the proportions of the order than in their ornamentation. According to the architectural historian Torbjörn Fulton, Dietterlin treats the orders "more as a basis or excuse for the development of a bizarre ornamental fantasy than as didactic examples of classical architectural ornamentation".
3 January 2017
Hello. I am by no means proclaim to be an expert but I'm curious about a few things and have some insight to share, maybe. So the scene depicted occurred in 1529 which can be assessed without regard to the painting itself. At first I was thinking this painting might be Flemish, but upon reading the findings on the website and doing some research on the Danube school I agree that it is German. There is my issue.
Now to look at it, without any historical context, it seems hard for me to take this as a pure Renaissance piece due to the lack of detail in some areas and the messy blending of colors in some area. Whoever painted this clearly had a very pre-Renaissance/Gothic influence, if, for no other reason, the fact that the palette is not very wide and the pigments used are dull and in many areas appear thinly applied. I will list my thoughts below in order and try to be as succinct as possible...
1. The composition is not well developed for the period it's from. The columns and figures are vertical and dead center in the panel, very Gothic. By the mid-1500's which is the earliest this could have been completed, the idea of composition had taken on great weight as the Italians had been experimenting with it for decades at around this time Bosch and German's like Hans Baldung had established traditions in Northern Europe far removed from the constrictions of Gothic orientation.
2. This piece uses one-point perspective and the way the railings meet behind the massive center column are more representational than anything. Clearly, that's not a rendering of a real location as the architecture doesn't align and we know from the underdrawings that the columns were made into one, not built that way. During this time, the Danube school, and all the German schools really, taught multi-point perspective and the use of real vs imagine architecture was a developed tradition that is exemplified in works by Durer and Altdorfer, for instance.
3. The two columns were merged into one. Perhaps this was a mistake in the drawing phase but to me says that the image was either not clearly defined by the artist or the artist was not very well disciplined to make such an oversight. this entire piece is 'up and down' in the center of the panel, how could the artist overlook the composition of the two massive panels in the center? I cannot believe that such an error would have occurred and the artist not start over.
4. Also in regard to the center column, the right side near the bottom has woodwork that appears to be shaded, but was done so in a careless manner that it looks like it has different construction than the left side. Underneath that, the diamond-shaped wooden inlays are of different widths and it also seems that the alcoves themselves are cut at competing angles and the wood at differing widths. In comparison to artists that would've hit their stride before this painting's completion, such as Matthias Greunwald, that kind of careless detail seems off for a student of any of the German schools who all had emphasis placed on logical construction and continuity.
Lastly, the pigments. The bright red-orange worn by Charles would normally dictate that he is the central or predominant figure in the piece, but we see the same tint of color on the dress of the woman opposite him and the hats of the men in the back. That seems to be a departure from typical Renaissance tradition which would have probably left that bright color to Charles alone and perhaps an opposing color on Francis, but instead we find very little attention to detail in that regard. To say nothing of the fact that this piece looks in almost every way like a proto-renaissance work but would have had to be completed, at the latest, a hundred years later. It's almost elementary for the time, given that Mannerism would have been en vogue and tremendously complicated works, with wide-ranging palettes were being created all throughout Europe.
In my opinion, and please don't crucify me here, but I'm not sold that this piece was indeed done by a 'master.' I'm of the belief that this may have been a private commission or study piece that found it's way into a valuable lot and therefore had the term affixed to it. Cadmium red and Naples yellow, verdigris and a wide range of blues would have been available easily during this time and yet the figures all bear a very similar complexion (except for the man leaning on the rail to the right who has a grossly over-compensated amount of reflected light, again, a move a student would make.) Also, the lighting on the columns, as further evidence by the x-rays, conflicts with the pigments used on the highlights and the lighting, on the whole, is not consistent.
As far as naming the painter, I can offer nothing and barring a signature being unearthed I'm not sure how one would at this point. I think I'd be more concerned in trying to find a positive dating on the painting and going from there. Unless I'm grossly mistaken or perhaps have missed some vital clues, I'm not convinced yet that this painting was done by an accomplished master painter.
7 January 2017
I believe you are looking at the wrong country: the man with the green top is Henry VIII and the lady in blue/green is Catherine Howard. The man next to her is Thomas Cromwell. Henry is being poked in the chest by some who looks quite like Jürgen Wullenwever. I let you read around the rest of the story there.
15 January 2017
Dominico Ghirlandaio may be the artist. I think this because he likes to paint infrastructure and religious scenes.
17 February 2017
I think the Scene is Henry's Great Matter.
Henry VIII is one side and Catherine of Aragon the other.
Catherine holds her hand to her stomach to show her failed pregnancies, and in the other her rosary. To her left the spanish Ambassador Eustace de Chapnys and behind her are her principle female ladies in waiting Maria de Salinas and Elizabeth Darrell.
With Henry is a man of the order of the garter, see gold ribbon on leg and red robes. Cardinal Wolsey is the red hatted man to the rear, only being given small note. In the back ground beneath the left arch is Thomas Cromwell talking to another perhaps the kings best friend. The men under the other arch are Spanish.
This is a very flemish looking painting around 1545, seen with the pillars that show landscapes behind (see The Family of Henry VIII c. 1545 Painted by an unknown artist. Oil on canvas, 141 x 355 cm at Hampston Court Palace). To the right possibly could be Ludlow Castle, to remind viewers of Catherines claim to the throne. To the left there is a building with a man walking beneath, dressed in red carrying a long pole, Cardinal Pole.
I would suggest that as this is a very pro Catherine piece it has been hidden for quite some time which would account for the lack of knowledge about it. Perhaps it has been in Spain.
23 February 2017
I think the painting is a 16th century Flemish one. likeness to Louis Finson who painted religious themed paintings. Flemish Baroque style. The painter is in the picture upper left, appears as a travelling minstrel in archway.
28 February 2017
Some artists that I think are worth further investigation:
- Jacob Seisenegger, Christophe Amberger, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Tiziano Vecellio
28 February 2017
Dear Sir, I have just read your post that you have put up on Painters On Line and this has intrigued me. Not being able to sleep I have popped in various searches on the Internet and I came up with Van de Roos who was a Flemish painter who worked on panels and also was at the French court for a time.( Wikipedia).
He also painted Henry VIII in his early years.(this is on the Internet in a book called Contempories of Erasmus, page 181).
Joos Van Cleve (orCleef) also went under the pseudonym of Joos Van Der Beke. (Britannica.com). I also read somewhere that he sometimes signed his painting with a mark of some kind rather than a signature.
I think that Cleve paints the plains of the faces of his subjects in the same way. They have a puffy appearance to their cheeks.
I may be way off with this but it is intriguing and I hope that you find out where the painting came from. I am of the opinion that if you are a court painter then it was like being the chief Royal Correspondent of today and that it was your job to record the main events.
1 March 2017
I feel there's a very heavy religious presence in this work as I think the guy in black isn't Valentine Dyall, but a church dignitary with his nuns' chorus in tow, rosary beads in prominence. Knowing the eternal power struggles between crown and cross, this seems to portray just that, the guy with all the ermine and pearls, Gucci flip-flops and dressed by Victoria's Secret being not on the side of the angels and possibly being accused of getting the mother superior pregnant, hence the hand on stomach. Probably nothing of the sort......but hey, who knows....?
1 March 2017
Think I've seen this painting being discussed on television? Henry VIII? Experts were interpreting the meaning but can't recall. Something about the watchers behind the pillars, the position if the feet in the foreground? Catherine of Aragon and the Catholic Church representatives. This will bug me now! I remember being intrigued by the hidden meaning and symbolism. I will wrack my brain! Henry the VIII - the Kings great matter or something similar...
1 March 2017
Minor artist of The French School about 1545 or so. Possibly Wendel Dietterlin. Or maybe Hans Wertinger, Colijn de Coter, Joachim Patinir or Herri met de Bles.
1 March 2017
I really enjoyed the website. Paintings are "not my bag (baby") but buildings are :)
I think the "columns" you refer to are not actually structural columns at all but simply decorative, gilt, polychrome wooden features. The left and right items seem to be paired, although not identical, with the centre one being almost entirely different/unrelated in terms of design, size and scale. Together with the dissimilar wooden plinth below, it appears not to belong in the painting and seems to be a badly added afterthought.
The artist was entirely inept at capturing perspective, both actual or symmetrical, particularly the shelf above the dado to the right of the image. The only lines that appear correct are the horizontals which even my 4 year old daughter has mastered.
Given the gaze of almost all characters being, bizarrely, in different directions and virtually none of them looking at the other, they seem to have been added haphazardly as though each individual has been directly copied from another painting or paintings. There seems to be no common focal point.
The entire work seems to be very poorly painted with odd shaped hands appearing in odd positions and poorly scaled.
There is, by the way, a 16th character in the distant archway to the left side of the painting who seems to be carrying something akin to a rifle. The distant buildings in that area seem to be a folly with no architectural purpose and the mixture of architectural styles suggests these are entirely fictitious.
The most fascinating and peculiar area of this work, for me, is seen through the archway to the right side of the painting. A pure fantasy structure nestling in a wave like plant, vegetable or growth. Despite the artists complete inability to paint anything resembling reality, he had a very Salvador Dali like imaginative streak to come up with that!
As initially confessed, whilst this is not my specialist subject, I personally think the artist was a complete amateur and this was an attempt, a very poor one, to capture a fictitious scene after a heavy session on the mead.
My best guess is that he intended to sign it but passed out moments after forgetting his own name. When he awoke, he had no recollection of the night before (or where the monstrosity on his kitchen table had come from) so he tossed it out with the stale bread and empty bottles.
As to its whereabouts (accepting that it probably is a few hundred years old) since then, it was probably found discarded on an open fire, moments before lighting, by an hereditary Peer who was too stupid to realise it was not a priceless work of art and so took it home to store in the attic of his country estate but died before remembering where he had put it.
1 March 2017
I'm no expert by any means but like the challenges of these. unfortunately I found a few things.
The original frame. this painter was revered to have his/her work framed with turtleshell and ebony. plus the frame is designed to be able to be fixed without the use of more nails etc. See "portrait of an unknown lady in a ruff for example.
Because of the framing it's likely the artist lived/ worked in or near the Netherlands. I cannot imagine hauling such a piece from say Portugal to get it framed. it would likely be in tatters when it got there.
The scene looks very rennaissance but it doesn't at the same time. It seems almost Baroque.
Closest paint style I could find was Feast in the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese, as both have people or things off in the background, what look like ghosts on a rooftop or a monster from behind a wall.
What is killing me is that guys face. you know the one, all red attire in the bottom left corner, why is his face so contorted, my guess is that I'd you figure that out you win.
2 March 2017
Benvenuto Cellini style I think so it could be one of his followers or students, but that is only my opinion...
11 March 2017
The gentleman in the red is pointing and questioning the man in front of him, could he possibly be Wycliffe or even Tynedale defending his beliefs about the bible, there seems to be a few clergy in the background.
17 March 2017
1. What is the scene being depicted? (The Scene):
Some meeting of king Francis I-th or Charles V-th, and the representatives of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, it had to be some event in the place of meeting, cos people wait interested outside the windows even (representatives of both mentioned, cos of their hats could recognize, red and black, they negotiate something, some dispute, or similar requests to the king, king explains, as visible all...)
I wonder if it is symbolic, that people stand outside the windows looking inside, so they stand on the ground, so it must be some chapel with the windows near the ground. Mosaiques on the floor are in yellow and blue colors, so typical castles, palaces or chapels in France in the epoque of Francis I-th.
Cos the negotiations were not easy, it could start the Italian War of 1536–38, as visible also at the painting (some spy 'clown in red' enters the porte in the distance).
Why on the hat of the king or this 'noble' one, who explains, with the left hand at his heart, there are 'golden' elements, not 'white-like' rather, means not typical to other paintings from the epoque? These red-hatted shout to the king, being angry, king explains, that he cannot or couldn't help, not to be blamed, it's or was not his gulit... 'really' - telling, 'forgive me, but...'
These 'counters' with the scroll with black hats (also outside the windows) wait in silence, so the king takes the side of the counters probably, in defense, or I don't know...
2. Who are the figures? (The Figures):
Known persons gathered on the meeting with own requests and arguments to the king in the negotiations of the opponents
3. Who painted the painting? (The Painter):
Jean Clouet (1480–1541), father of François Clouet.
4. Where has the painting been since the early 16th century? (Provenance)
The ruins of the castle on the hill (right window), and the river let think, that it could be somewhere in France, in some castle or chapel.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape maybe (the ruins on the hill)... or other similar something, with the bridges also, in Avignon, or somewhere anyway, along the line of the Castles sur Loire...
Maybe this red-clown entering the porte with the spear is some typical soldier from the Italian Wars 1536-38.
Columns and style let think, that for sure it could be J. Clouet - the author, or someone, who painted like him.
23 March 2017
Has a Lucas Cranach the Elder look about it. I believe they are all or mostly religious characters. You will find some of them involved in the Protestant Reformation.
23 March 2017
The man in red, could be an emissary from the Pope, probably a cardinal (hence the cardinal red cape). He could be telling Henry VIII that he cannot marry, with the Pope's blessing, despite Henry's pleas. the cardinal has darker skin than the others, indicating that he comes from somewhere South of England. The Clergyman on the right of Henry really looks like Thomas Cromwell.
Catherine Howard married Henry in 1540, so this scene wold have been prior to this. However Catherine was only 16 when she married, but looks older than this in the picture. Could the woman therefore be Anne Boleyn? Whichever potential wife she is, she is wearing a rosary, which shows that it would be before henry completely fell out with the Roman Catholic Church.
The costumes are consistent with those worn in England in the Tudor era, including Henry's pants and stockings. However the cardinal definitely looks foreign.
The onlookers could just be there to depict members of the court looking in different directions, having different points of view.
There are 4 main characters here in the front. The others are members of the court. From left to right a cardinal (an emissary from the Pope), Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, Katherine of Aragon. The cardinal is blocking the King, despite his protestations, Thomas Cromwell is just looking on, Katherine is looking miserable and putting her faith in God. The court is divided on the King's problem, of trying to annul his marriage. One half of the court think that his idea is equivalent to fairy castles in the sky.
My guess it is Henry VIII receiving news from Pope, that he can't divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, with Thomas Cromwell by his side.
The real puzzle in this painting is the Moorish fellow with the red cape. It has been suggested that it is Alessandro d'Medici, otherwise known as "Il Moor". However, looking at other portraits of this fellow, he was clean shaven an and only half Moorish, as he was born of a servant girl in the Medici family and probably fathered by the Pope! But the painter, was working in retrospect and probably did not see him.
The feathered cap is very much like the one that Henry VIII wore in one of his younger portraits - and you know what they say -"If the cap fits"....
If the man in red is Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, then the following would be relevant. Charles visited Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon (Henry's first wife and Charles's aunt) in 1520. Catherine, persuaded Henry to ally himself with Charles, against the French. He visited them again a few years later, regarding the possibility of marrying their daughter Mary.
I still think that the Red cape, skirt and possibly caps indicate Papists.
Depending on the date of the event, we have a choice of Wolsey, Moore or Cromwell for the man with the scroll.
The cap with the feather appears in Henry's early portraits.
Catherine, became more and more pious as she got older, hence the rosary. She would always be accompanied by her ladies in waiting, amongst whom were Mary Boleyn (Henry's Mistress) and later Ann Boleyn (Henry's next wife).
However, could the man in red be the leader of Catherine of Aragon's trial, the Popes man sent to sort out Henry's problem. Think his name was Lorenzo Carpeggio - he was certainly bearded and would have been in charge of the proceedings.
What this meeting is about depends on the date, and I would recommend that a smidgeon of paint is carbon dated to gain a little clarity on the subject.
Just thought l'd like to see a portrait of a youngish Henry VIII. The portraits are not exactly Holbein's, if they were, then there would not be the same level of disagreement, about who the characters are.If the man in red is Charles V, then the painting could be a representation of his attitude to Henry and Catherine of Aragon, rather than a representation of an actual meeting. the building and landscape are pure fantasy, so perhaps the rest is just more imagination. Although I have made the argument for Henry, I am not 100 % convinced. The red figure still looks like a Moor to me, of whom there were quite few in Europe.
If it is an early Spanish painting, is could bee a Moorish noblemen confronting Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile about his harsh treatment or expunction (1492). After all "who would have expected the Spanish Inquisition". However Isabella is not usually depicted like this lady, even though she was a Catholic monarch. The lady looks more like, Catherine and the "King" looks more like Henry than Ferdinand.
Did any Moorish noblemen ever go to Henry and Catherine, to entreat them to use their influence with Charles V for better treatment?
There were quite a few Moors floating around medieval Europe, but which one is this? Even Thomas More, was of Moorish descent. One suggestion was Alessandro di Medici (Il Moro), but he had little or no beard.
Other strange things about the painting are the pillars - I have travelled widely, but do not recall seeing any pillars like these. So I've googled a few searches relate pillars and found some paintings in a similar style, attributed to Antwerp Mannerism style. The single perspective point is used and all kind of strange pillars. Also some them seem to be in a long portrait format, as in the painting in question. However, the biblical subjects are painted in costumes appropriate to the age in which they were painted i.e. Early 16th Century. So the lady could be the Virgin Mary, and the men on the left, could be the three wise men and the central "King" figure, could be Joseph! If the painting was created, by anyone from this genre, then there there would be no point in looking for any likeness with people with whom we can find visual records!
Therefore this could be three wise men saying "Who's the daddy", and one saying "you're the daddy", pointing at Joseph. Mary, is feeling her pregnant belly. In the background (left window), the little man I thought was the devil, is Herod.
23 March 2017
What an interesting site. I love mysteries with regard to art. The BBC did 'Fake or Fortune' hoping to find sleepers and some of the results were fascinating and not always what the owners expected. A silly question but have you thought of contacting them? I'm sorry I can't add any other comments as my knowledge on old paintings is minimal. However, it's very interesting when you study it for a while. Ellen
23 March 2017
An art historian suggested to me that the painting looked like an early Spanish work. In that case they would not have put Henry in it or would they. The perspective is wrong which also underlines his suggestion of an early painting. On the other hand there are unusual images in the painting. Take a closer look at the background at the very top right hand corner. Also the elaborate pattern on the columns baffle me. The lady with the rosary may be the Virgin Mary. All the best Pat
23 March 2017
I've looked at the website now, and it seems that my guess about the Emperor Charles, which I hesitated to advance in case it left me looking stupid, was not far off - or at least, that the Holy Roman Empire and all its works has struck others as being the source from which the painting came. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to have helped them any more than it's helped me.
I did notice the odd pillars, and wondered why they'd been painted like that - the website offers suggestions, including that the painting has been re-mounted on wood from an original panel; that, as has been observed there, would have been an extremely skilled operation; so this painting, while not from a master's hand, nonetheless had a great deal of importance to someone, at some time. What that importance was is the question - that £5,000 seems to be drifting farther and farther from my frenzied grasp.
I have a feeling, though it's essentially one I've picked up from the website, that the whole secret of the painting lies with those sombrely dressed women on the right, who seem to be in the costume of nuns; and I could be convinced by the theory that they're in some sense hostages. But the truth is - I dunno!
Your £5,000 is, sadly, safe from me.
If I had to guess it would have something to do with the Holy Roman Empire, but the last time I learned about that being over 50 years ago, that's not so much knowledge as sticking a pin in the earth hoping to hit oil. There seems to be a tension between the sombrely-clad group on the right, and that on the left, with the figure in the middle torn between them - but who he might be, and who they are, other than that one on the right is dressed in the robes of a scholar, I have little or more honestly NO idea. (Or if I have an idea, I'm embarrassed to put it forward because it's probably totally wrong.)
If there's one thing I'm confident of about this painting, and there isn't much, it's that this has nothing to do with Henry VIII - I don't believe it's an English painting, even though the man in the scholar's robe does look a bit like Thomas Cromwell: the rest of the elements don't work to suggest anything in Henry's life, at any stage of it; and anyway, the central figure looks nothing like Henry either looked, or would have wanted to be painted like looking. The interesting character to me is the man in red, with the chin jutting forward - it's the Habsburg chin, but .... you would have expected the Emperor Charles, if that's who it is, to be more prominently displayed and more richly clad. Still - I bet it's supposed to be him.
5 April 2017
Interesting. I don't know nearly enough to comment on the identifications you propose, though they seem convincingly consistent with regard to the scenario, and I get the Habsburg chin on the red-cloaked royal.
I'm surprised the dress expert you consulted didn't comment on the striking kingly codpiece.
Any analogue for the unusual bit of landscape in the upper right, topped with what almost look like aqueduct arches? I know that background landscapes in scenes like this are often just conventionalized wallpaper, but it sure is one odd rock. Maybe a non-eyewitness "artist's conception" of the Alcázar in Madrid?
A small comment for you. The background of the painting reminded me most of this 16th century non-eyewitness landscape (Jan Mostaert) of Coronado's encounter with a Zuni Pueblo. Some of the faces look quite similar to his portrait work, too. You can view a painting of what I mean via the link below: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Apr-2017/1984234-Zuni_Pueblo.jpg
23 April 2017
It's a 15th century painting,. and who are we all to think that in those days, all painters where good.. if we think about those 15th 16th century art, we think of the masters, like da vinci, rembrandt, murillo, and the list goes on and on. BUT just like today, there where olso people in the 15c that are not really the best painters, just like most of us. just people who like to paint like a hobby.. not bad, but not verry good olso.. i think this painting is painted in a prived room, by one person who just likes to paint, just like me.... and i stay with my opinion, becauce if you watch this art with other painters of that time, you can see clearly, this painter was not fully aducated by a master, ore even hade no need for learning, and was a self learner.. so the mistery of this painting is in my opinion just a 15th century painting with no history. IF the date is correct. i have my doubt about the right above kind of castle, ore house, whatever it might be;-)
23 April 2017
There's no denying that this painting isn't of the highest quality compared to most masters paintings; although the gold pillars show some talent and the weird background landscape is kind of pleasingly funky. At least the artist, poorly trained as he was, made some attempt to capture likenesses. Identifying the players is nevertheless an intriguing detective game. The two main male figures appear to be brothers. What popped out at me is that they both have the famous "Hapsburg jaw." The one in dark clothing looks like a royal -- and his codpiece is pretty damn impressive, when you finally notice it.
I think the Hapsburg brothers in question are Ferdinand I (the one in red, whose nose sloped down like that) and Charles V (the one with the "look at ME!" codpiece). Both were Holy Roman Emperors, first Chuck and then Ferdie. Moreover, I think the woman being presented to Chuck is his bride, Isabella of Portugal. It was an arranged marriage, although they did come to love each other. Ferdinand displays a garter, indicating that he was a member of a chivalric order called the Order of the Garter. (The painting was reworked to show off this detail.) Charles V belonged to the Order of the Golden Fleece. He was extremely proud of hat fact, and he always wore the symbol of that order, a small golden ram pendant. I don't see that pendant here. So perhaps my identification is off. Or.....perhaps the artist worked for Ferdinand, not Charles. Ferdinand made sure that the artist got HIS details correct, but allowed the painter to be sloppier when it came to his bro. Basically, my tentative theory of the work is that it was commissioned by Ferdinand (who apparently couldn't afford a good painter) to commemorate the time he introduced his brother Chuck to his new wife, Isabella.
23 April 2017
I doubt that these questions can be answered with certainty. There were so many painters in the St Luke Guild of Painters of Antwerp, that it would be difficult to identify one, especially as they mostly did not sign their paintings. This one was probably done by apprentices anyway. I think the painting is predominantly religious, rather than historical or political, but we cannot view it as a 16th Centurian would. We simply do not have their mindsets.We have a lot more knowledge and understanding than the original viewers had and we cannot unknow our knowledge. Similarly we are not obsessed with the Magi as this group of painters were. Experts may be able to make an educated guess about the meaning of the painting or even the painter, but they cannot be sure. Finding the history of the painting could be even more difficult as we cannot describe it with certainty and so may not recognise any historical description. It could have been one of those paintings that was traded in the market outside Antwerp Cathedral in the 16th Century and not commissioned. If this was the case then there would have been no original documentation of the sale. Still it is an interesting puzzle and I have learnt a lot about Antwerp Mannerism on the way. I hope to learn more when Antwerp Museum reopens sometime this year.
24 April 2017
What a great website, compliments to the author ! In my opinion the painting is likely to be portraying Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.
22 May 2017
Fascinating. Thankyou for sharing. Whilst the painter remains unknown and the scene unrecognised, your inspiration is infectious and will be evidenced forever. True credit to you, Sir xxx
27 May 2017
The painting is of Henry VIII at court talking with the Spanish Ambasador Chapuys. To his right is who I suspect to be Thomas Cromwell. It is difficult to say who the women are but it is possible one may be his eldest daughter Mary who was promised in marriage to the Spanish King to appease the Catholics after Henry detached from the church of Rome. It is hard to say who the painter may be, it is not Holbein but it may not be a painter of the time either.
11 June 2017
Having found your website I am heartened to find a fellow traveller in the problems of identifying an old master painting. Like you I have bought and sold a few paintings but find the research into the history and provenance of paintings fascinating. One major problem is that the experts in an artist or movement only see the paintings hung on walls. Auctioneers and purchasers get to handle the painting and look at the features on the front and reverse. Nether the twain will meet. The experts in certain artists now mainly reside in universities and when you approach them their reaction often is they volunteer to do some research into your painting but only if you pay a consultant's fee. The painting I am researching is a portrait on relined canvas. It shows a man in sixteenth century clothes but the painting seems to date from the seventeenth century. Perhaps a later copy. On the stretchers is the word Titian and many other clues. The man is aged about 40 and is dressed in the style that Titian adopted throughout his life. It is difficult to prove that this is Titian as the only portraits that have survived of the artist start from when he was in his sixties. On the back of the painting chalked on the stretchers is the auction number 981 497. The Christie's website and a book published by Christie's state that these chalk numbers are important for attempting to research the painting but give no detail on how to read the code. On the back of my painting there is glue from a label that has disappeared but the glue has imprinted on the wood the year 1898
So I presume the first two figures chalked on the stretcher represents 1898 and as there are no letters it is not a Christie's number but another large auction house. Have you any idea on how to decode these chalk numbers. In my attempt to identify the sitter I have bought a large collection of books that illustrate portraits during the period 1500-1700 both in Italy and in other parts of Europe. I will now spend time looking through them and let you know if I can add any information to your research. Have you read Laura Cumming's book The Vanishing Man. It is about the artist Velazquez but also about a printer in Reading who in the mid-nineteenth century bought a painting at an auction and then tried to research the provenance of the painting and prove it was by Velazquez. I think that we are both on the same difficult journey!
19 June 2017
I am far from having any knowledge of art but i wonder what this is in the archway (This is a blown up pic of the archway in the upper left of the painting. https://www.antiquers.com/attachments/capture-_2017-05-18-06-19-41-1-png.73834
19 June 2017
I think someone went to a lot of effort to do an elaborate copy or created something they hoped mostly looked original! Look down between the legs of the Main figure in question.....I guess it's supposed to be a scabbard for a sword....but the angle doesn't go towards anyone correctly......looks more like a cat's tail!!! Also....top right arch.....isn't that a rather surrealistic "castle/building" for the scene that someone put all that work into??
19 June 2017
Let me preface by saying a little bit of knowledge is dangerous...and I have less than a little in this arena. I'm still having fun with this painting though. I see from your site you've contacted several museums. Can I assume one of them was the Rijks? Perhaps a major coincidence, but the whimsical style of the rock formation in this work is similar to Jan Mostaert. Also, I can see some similarities in the works of Geertgen tot Sint Jans, particulary in "The Adoratoration of teh Magi". The Rijks has many works by both artists, so I was wondering if they could prove helpful in the provenance of your painting. Ok, I need to let this go. I love a good mystery and now have grown to have an unnatural fondness for the duck-billed shoe!
Great challenge! I just burned most of my day on this research and have learned an incredible amount. I have a new-found respect for the men's Renaissance costumes, especially 1500-1530. I'll be excited if this does turn out to be Southern Germany. The style is the closest I could find in one painting. Cheers!
19 June 2017
I definitely think this is a Netherlandish painting. Don't have anything else to say, just typing this out to reach the amount of letters needed to submit my thought.
26 June 2017
Thank you very much for the wonderful website and efforts It really is a Very profound and enjoyable site to spend an evening or two perusing
17 April 2017
The style of portraiture reminds me of the work of anthony van dyck. Given however that the composition is not his usual style and as you've suggested the work is likely to predate his existence, I'm thinking that it could be from a similar school/geography. One has to say though that some of the detailing in the painting leaves a little to be desired! Could easily be the work of a nobody or an apprentice which actually makes the tale even more interesting... Geoff
27 June 2017
In regard to the auction mentioned in this website, you can find the full auction catalog online. It's listed here: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/lepke1934_12_06/0014. The part you have on your webpage is found in the catalog. It reads: NIEDERDEUTSCHER ODER WESTFÄLISCHER MEISTER um 1540 98. ALTARFLÜGEL. In einem reich mit Säulen ausgestatteten Erker eine Versammlung von Weltlichen und Geistlichen, deren einer eine Stiftungsurkunde in der Hand hält. In den Erker- fenstern sehen sechs Männer dem Vorgang zu. Dahinter romantische Landschaft. Holz. Gr. 97X45 cm. Holzr. In the catalog they say it's a altar wing and the cleric has a deed of donation (foundation) in his hands. You can read more if you follow the links: http://www.arthistoricum.net/en/subjects/thematic-portals/german-sales/ I have only done a quick reference search for stolen art (Nazi looted art) but nothing came up... Not my art century I'm afraid but I hope my links are useful.
28 June 2017
I believe these are Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Henry the eighth painted by Johannes Holbein from Bavaria, Germany, the others I presume are important bystanders I don't recognise!
Remember, the more this website is visited the better, so please pass on the link (www.oldmasterdetective.com) to your family and friends! You can use the sharing tools on the page to send the link via Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.