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Jan Wellens de Cock

Leiden circa 1480 – Antwerp circa 1527

We now have many documents in our possession detailing the career of this artist, the father of Matthys the landscape painter and Hieronymus the publisher and engraver. He was born in Leiden circa 1480 where he studied under Cornelis Engelbrechtsz. Was he registered as a Master of the Guild of Antwerp in 1503 under the name Jan van Leyen? In any case, he is mentioned in the archives of 1506 as Jan Wellens de Cock. During the next two years, he executed paintings in the Church of Our Lady and in 1520, he was made dean of the guild alongside Joos van Cleve.

It seems that he was the first to introduce Bosch's fantastical conception of landscape to the city where he nevertheless participated in the mannerist movement around 1515-1530. Max J. Friedländer has established his body of painted works based on a Landscape with St. Christopher, from the former von Bissing Collection in Munich, which also exists in an engraving (circa 1550) by Cornelis Danckertz bearing the inscription “Pictum J. Cock”. His landscapes are similar to those of Joachim Patenier and Bosch, while his characters are more akin to mannerism, a style from which he nevertheless distances himself through a richness of invention and an acute sense of nature.