BENSON, Willem
(b. ca. 1521, Brugge, d. 1574. Middelburg)

The Nativity

Oil on panel, 36 x 29 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor

The panel is signed in the lower left corner in monogram: GB. It is tentatively assumed that the artist is Willem (Guillaume) Benson, the son of the painter Ambrosius Benson.

From the style it is apparent that the painter was active in Bruges during the mid-sixteenth century. The composition is derivative; stemming ultimately from the Nativity that forms the centre panel of the triptych attributed to Gerard David (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art), which can itself in general terms be related back to the Adoration of the Shepherds by Hugo van der Goes in Berlin (Staatliche Museen). David's composition was evidently much appreciated, since it is also echoed in works by many of his followers or associates: Ambrosius Benson (attributed to; Leningrad, Hermitage), Adriaen Isenbrant (Antwerp, Meyer van den Bergh Museum) and the Master of the Female Half-Lengths (Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts). The style of Willem Benson is closely modelled on that of Isenbrant, of whom he seems to have been a follower.