de jonckheere old masters

Master of Female Half-Lengths

Active in Antwerp between 1500 and 1550

This master, who was active during the first half of the 16th century, has never been identified. He is famous above all for his half-length portraits of women, often dressed in rich clothing. The elegant nature of his models and the subjects of his paintings, inspired by music or poetry, have led historians to suppose that he worked in Mechelen, in the refined and cultivated circle of Margaret of Austria, the Governor of the Netherlands from 1518 to 1530, whose portrait was painted by Bernard van Orley.

Our anonymous master, who was possibly from the latter’s studio, also painted landscapes enhanced with religious scenes. He owes his conception of panoramic natural settings to the influence of Joachim Patenier, who lived in Antwerp until 1524. These various observations converge to justify the hypothesis that the Master of Female Half-Lengths worked in Antwerp and Mechelen, and that his activity developed during the first quarter of the 16th century. The constant morphological typology of his female models differentiates him from his contemporaries, Adriaen Isenbrant and Ambrosius Benson. The Master of Female Half-Lengths has nevertheless been compared with these artists, mainly as regards religious subjects. However, this Master’s works are generally associated with half-length portraits of young women; the head is turned three quarters, the face is oval, the eyebrows arched, the lips well defined, the hands delicate and manicured. Such are the characteristics of the idealised model the Master of Female Half-Lengths featured in all his paintings. These specificities can be found in both isolated subjects and in his larger paintings.