NE FLVXVS IRRITVS SIT
NOSTRI CRVORIS O(LIM)
QVO SANO VVLNVS
GENVS BEOQVE LAPS(VM)
FOSSVM CATVT TOT A
SPINIS MANVS HIAN (=INANES)
LATVS PEDES APER(TI)
COR FEREVM MOVE(ANT)1
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owner in 1937;
Thence by inheritance.
R. Grosshans, Maerten van Heemskerck, Berlin 1980, pp. 89–90, cat. no. 1, reproduced fig. 1.
According to Grosshans, the ninety-year old dealer Hans Wendland, from whom the previous owner had bought the painting in 1937, confessed to having split it from a panel with the Virgin and Child on the other side, which he then sold as Jan van Scorel.3 There does however appear to be little proof of this occurrence both because there is little, if any, evidence of this painting having ever been on a wooden support and because it is of different dimensions to the companion work. The inscriptions and dates, too, are different; the present work being dated 1525 and the companion 1532. Even accounting for Grosshans hypothesis that some digits may be missing from the end of the date (done in Roman numerals) and that it may originally have been dated to the late 1520s, there is still a disparity. It may well therefore be that the story is apocryphal.
Nonetheless the present painting is one of the earliest known works by Heemskerck and is likely to have been created during the years between 1525 and 1530, a period of collaboration with Jan van Scorel in Haarlem. The unusual form of signature ‘Heemskeric’ reappears in three other works by the artist: on a drawing of the Forum Romanum (1535), on Vulcan's forge in Prague (dated 1536), and on the engraving by Cornelis Bos of 1537 which shows Prudence and Justice.4 Stylistically it most resembles the Man of Sorrows in Ghent from 1532.5 The sculpting of the athletic body with the meticulous rendering of the neck-, breast- and hip-muscles is very similar in both depictions.
1. 'In order that our blood may not have flowed in vain, with which I am able to heal wounds and make the fallen human race happy, may the head which was pierced by so many thorns, the poor hands, the side, and the pierced feet all move a hardened heart'.
2. See for example the work at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Grosshans 1980, reproduced fig. 146
3. Grosshans 1980, cat. no. 2, reproduced fig. 2.
4. For the Prague painting see Grosshans 1980, cat. no. 21, reproduced fig. 22.
5. Grosshans 1980, cat. no. 16, reproduced fig. 16.
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