born c. 1478, County of Hainaut
died c. 1532, Breda, Brabant [now in Neth.]
original name Jan Gossaert, or Jenni
Gossart, also called Jan Malbodius
Flemish painter who was one of the first artists to introduce the style
of the Italian Renaissance into the Low Countries.
He derived the name Mabuse from his family home, Maubeuge, in northern
France. He is most likely to be identified with one Jennyn van
Hennegouwe, who is registered as a master in the Guild of St. Luke at
Antwerp in 1503. His most important early work extant is the “Adoration
of the Kings” (National Gallery, London), which is painted in the ornate
style of the Antwerp school. Other early works, such as “Jesus, the
Virgin, and the Baptist” (Prado, Madrid), reflect his interest in the
works of Jan van Eyck and Albrecht Durer. Another early work, famous for
its sense of mood, is the “Agony in the Garden” (Staatliche Museen
Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin).
In 1508 Mabuse accompanied his employer, Philip of Burgundy, to Italy,
where he was strongly impressed by the art of the High Renaissance.
After his return from Italy in 1509, he continued to study Italian art
through the engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi and Jacopo de' Barbari.
Mabuse's subsequent work shows a continuous effort to develop a fully
Italianate style. This is evident in such works as the “Neptune and
Amphitrite” (1516; Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz) and the
“Hercules and Deianira” (1517; Barber Institute, Birmingham, Eng.), in
which his early, complex designs have given way to a comparatively
simple and direct conception.
Sculpturesque nudes become common in Mabuse's later paintings, but they
seldom avoid the stiff, lapidary quality ofhis earlier figures. In his
“Danae” (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), Mabuse employs an elaborate
architectural setting as a foil for the seminude figure, a device he
frequently used. Throughout his life, he retained the jewellike
technique and careful observation that were traditional in Netherlandish
Mabuse was also a renowned portrait painter. His portraits, such as the
“Charles de Bourgogne” (Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz),
“Eleanor of Austria” (c. 1525; H.A.Wetzlar Collection, Amsterdam), and
“Jean Carondelet” (1517; Louvre, Paris), reveal his facility for
psychological perception and are particularly notable for their
expressive depiction of hands.