Master of the St John Altarpiece


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Lucas van Leyden (c. 1494—1533) Dutch painter and engraver


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(fl Gouda, 1480–1500). North Netherlandish painter and designer of stained-glass windows and ?woodcuts. He was named by Hannema after three panels: the Birth of St John the Baptist, the Flight of St Elizabeth (both Rotterdam, Boymans–van Beuningen) and the Meeting of St John the Baptist and Christ (Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.). These must have been part of an altarpiece, possibly the high altar of the St Janskerk, Gouda, which was devoted to St John the Baptist. The most striking features of the works attributed to the Master and his workshop are the solid, angular figures, the occasionally grotesque, craggy faces and the rather deep landscape views in the background. These also occur in the early prints of Lucas van leyden, and for this reason the Master has been identified with hugo Jacobszoon, Lucas van Leyden's father, who is known to have worked in Gouda in 1488. As the St John panels are generally dated before 1500, this hypothesis seemed acceptable. However, things became more complicated when dendrochronological research suggested a date for the panels of c.1512, which would make their style very traditional and old-fashioned. While neither the rather flat technique of these panels, with areas of strong local colour, nor the underdrawing (revealed by infra-red reflectography) show any direct similarities to the early paintings by Lucas, there is a close resemblance between the underdrawing and the draughtsmanship of the earliest surviving glass cartoons from the St Janskerk (on loan to Amsterdam, Rijksmus.), dated c.1510, which in the past have been attributed to Lucas van Leyden.


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

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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