Martin Bussaert


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(d Copenhagen, 1553). Danish sculptor and architect. His sculptural work shows a precocious awareness of early Renaissance art, suggesting that he trained in the workshop of Claus Berg in Odense. He first served Christian II, King of Denmark (reg 1512–23), as architect and sculptor and had settled in Copenhagen by 1523. His tombstone sculptures equal or surpass his architectural successes. The first in his series of gravestone reliefs was of Elisabeth of Habsburg (c. 1523; Copenhagen, Nmus.), Christian II's queen, a pendant to an earlier representation of King John (1503; Copenhagen, Nmus.), sculpted by adam van Düren. The limestone high relief had a conventional Gothic framework but hinted at Bussaert's mature work in the more naturalistic folds of Elisabeth's gown. After Christian II fled to the Netherlands in 1523, Bussaert elected to remain in Copenhagen in the employ of the newly crowned Frederick I (reg 1523–34). Frederick rewarded Bussaert well, naming him master builder in c. 1525 and endowing him and his wife with a living at Slangerup Cloister in 1529. Bussaert's major period of productivity began when the Lutheran King Christian III (reg 1534–59) assumed Denmark's throne. Among Bussaert's architectural achievements were the Tøjhus (the Royal Arsenal); the Krempe Fortress (1549; with Jakob Binck) in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; and the spire of Århus Cathedral (1550). He is credited with creating the Herreborg style of stepped or curved-gable manor house as seen at Hesselagergård in Fyn. As a sculptor, Bussaert fulfilled his early promise in the tombstone relief of Mourits Olufsen Kragnos (4.1×2.1 m, c. 1550; Ringsted Church). In this he was not content to portray static images of the deceased, his mother and widow, instead linking them both compositionally and emotionally. It is this human touch that distinguished his work from that in the same genre by such contemporaries and followers as Hans Maler of Roskilde and the Dutchman gert van Grøningen, who worked in Århus. He also abandoned the pointed Gothic framework for a rectilinear boundary. Bussaert's willingness to go beyond the Gothic, combined with his skill in translating the new Renaissance vocabulary into Danish forms, placed him in the vanguard of 16th-century Danish art.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.