MEMLING, Hans
(b. ca. 1440, Seligenstadt, d. 1494, Bruges)

Portrait of Jacques of Savoy

1470s
Oil on oak panel, 34,7 x 25 cm
Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

The man is portrayed almost frontally and does not quite look us in the eye. His curly hair looks Italian. Over his red jacket he wears a black jerkin or tabard with grey lining. On a fourfold golden neck-chain hangs a cross-shaped jewel with precious stones and pearls. His hands rest on the edge of the painting, as if on the lowest ridge of the frame which has now disappeared. His coat-of-arms is on the reverse.

Jacques of Savoy, Count of Romont and Lord of Vaud from 1460 until his death in 1487, became a knight of the Golden Fleece on 30 April 1478. He was lieutenant-general under Charles the Bold and survived the defeat at Nancy in 1477. From here he fled to the Netherlands and entered the service of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Austria. The fact that he is portrayed here without the chain of the order (also missing on the coat-of-arms) indicates that the painting must have been executed prior to 1478.

The work was identified in the museum catalogue of 1901 as a copy of a lost portrait by Memling. The pose, landscape, physiognomy of the fingers and the stippled foliage are characteristic. The hard modelling, lacking in nuance, and the absence of detail suggest a minor artist along the lines of the Bruges Master of the Legend of St Lucy.




© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.