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Gossaert was born c. 1478/88 in Maubeuge (Hennengau). It is not known where
he was trained, and the stylistic assessment has not yet offered many clues
about this. From 1503 to 1507 he lived and worked in Antwerp. A visit to
Rome in 1508/09 was decisive in his development; the artist traveled in
the retinue of his patron, Philip of Burgundy, for whom he had to draw
ancient architecture and sculpture. On his return Gossaert nevertheless
adhered at first to the traditions of the Netherlandish masters, copying
the works of Jan van Eyck, for example.
However, after 1515 his Italian experience gradually took effect as can
be seen particularly in his depiction of architecture as well as his interest
in three-dimensional figure painting, and interest to mythological subjects,
e.g. Neptune and Amphitrite,
Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse
In 1515, Philip of Burgundy invited Gossaert to decorate the Soubourg palace
near Middelburg; Gossaert carried out court commissions without being bound
by Guild regulations. He concentrated on mythological scenes and portraiture,
favoring large-scale, “statuary” figures, which, although modeled on the
ideal body of Italian antiquity, nevertheless bear traces of ordinary characters
of the day.
Gossaert played an important role in enriching a Northern Renaissance style
with Italian features and is considered one of the first important Netherlandish
“Romanists”. (Netherlandish “Romanist” is a term used to denote a large
group of leading Flemish artists of the first half of the 16th century,
who integrated the classical imagery in their work. From this time on,
painting mythological scenes and nudes as the main subject also became
popular in the Netherlands.)
The artist died c. 1533/36, probably in Breda.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.