Artibus et Historiae no. 75 (XXXVIII)

2017, ISSN 0391-9064

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ALEXANDRA LIBBY - Innovation and Identity in Cornelis Gijsbrechts’ A Hanging Wall Pouch (pp. 207–223)

For decades it was believed that the life and career of the Flemish trompe l’œil master and court painter to the kings of Denmark, Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts ended in 1675. Having left the Danish court around 1672 he is said to have made his way to Stockholm and then Breslau (present day Wrocław, Poland), where he then vanished into obscurity. However, recently transcribed inscriptions on A Hanging Wall Pouch at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, tell an entirely different story. According to trompe l’œil documents tucked throughout the illusionistic pouch, Gijsbrechts executed the work in 1677 and that he did so in the service of the second prince of Auersperg and duke of Silesia-Münsterberg, Johann Ferdinand von Auersperg. This new information not only extends Gijsbrechts’ life two years longer than previously believed (and makes A Hanging Wall Pouch his last known work), but it also revises the assessment of his late career and offers insights into two the works most striking features: the painting is cut in the shape of the objects it represents and also has collaged to it a real mirror – techniques Gijsbrechts only ever used while working for the kings of Denmark. Situated in relation to Gijsbrechts’ Danish works, A Hanging Wall Pouch sheds light on the nature of Gijsbrechts’ production, the intimate relationship that existed between painter and patron, and the ways in which Gijsbrechts selected certain kinds of illusionism to craft his own artistic identity.

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