Index of Selected Artists in the Collection

Vrancke van der Stockt (Netherlandish , before 1420 - 1495)
Kneeling Donor with Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1470
Oil on panel
18 x 8 3/16 in. (45.7 x 20.8 cm)
R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1942
AMAM 1942.128

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This panel, originally the left wing of a triptych, was probably painted by Vrancke van der Stockt, the most immediate successor to Rogier van der Weyden, in Brussels during the late fifteenth century. A kneeling donor is accompanied by Saint John the Baptist; in the background are scenes of Christ's baptism and temptation.

Works ascribed to Vrancke van der Stockt are distinguished by their slim, elegant figures with rather angular, mannered silhouettes; they are further characterized by a consistent use of Rogerian motifs, repeated virtually unchanged from the original. The Oberlin painting represents Saint John the Baptist recommending a donor who kneels before him at a prie-dieu; the two figures are flanked by columns that frame a deep landscape view. Based on the costume of the donor, the work was probably painted about 1470 or slightly earlier.1 The figure of Saint John is derived (with minor alterations to the position of the head and arms) from the portrayal of this same saint in Rogier van der Weyden's Medici Madonna, of about 1450 (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, inv. no. 850).2 The uneven, appealingly awkward placement of the saint's feet in van der Stockt's painting reflects the fact that in its original context, this figure was represented with his left foot elevated on a step.

Harbison has noted the "interplay of condensation and narration" in van der Stockt's compositions, combining the extraordinary selectivity of his mentor Rogier van der Weyden with a predilection for narrative detail.3 This is clearly manifest in the background scenes within the Oberlin panel, which depict a sequence of events progressing from John's baptism of Christ through the temptations which (according to Matthew 4:1-11) immediately followed. Christ is baptized, then led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil: tempted to turn stone into bread, to leap from the temple tower, and to possess the great kingdoms seen from atop a high mountain.

The inclusion of Christ's temptations in representations of the Baptist is relatively rare; the central panel of Rogier's Saint John Altarpiece in Berlin, representing the Baptism of Christ, incorporates the three temptations of Christ in the painted archivolt surrounding the scene and probably served as a prototype for van der Stockt's composition.4 Nonetheless, van der Stockt's spatial and temporal activation of the background landscape is representative of a significant general development from devotional to narrative imagery in Netherlandish painting.

The Oberlin panel originally formed the left wing of a triptych. The right wing of the triptych, representing <H Saint Margaret > recommending a female donor in an interior space, is now in the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester.5 The central panel of the triptych is lost, but several suggestions have been forwarded concerning its original format and subject matter. Stechow proposed that the central panel may have been identical with a Deposition from the Cross, formerly in a private collection in Brussels.6 More recently, Harbison has connected the Oberlin and Rochester paintings with a Madonna and Child with Angels attributed to Dirck Bouts in the Capilla Real, Granada.7 Stylistically, the Granada painting seems to reflect an original composition from the circle of Rogier van der Weyden; furthermore, its proportions are closely compatible with those of the Oberlin and Rochester wings.Perhaps most significantly, the unusual--if not unique--setting of the Madonna and Child, which progresses smoothly from a distant landscape view on the left to an interior gallery on the right, addresses the necessity of bridging the gap from the exterior setting of the Kneeling Donor with Saint John the Baptist to the domestic space represented in the Kneeling Donor with Saint Margaret. The Madonna and Child in Granada thus presents a plausible approximation of the original central panel of van der Stockt's triptych.

M. E. Wieseman

Biography
Vrancke van der Stockt became a master in the Brussels guild of St. Luke in 1445, and in the same year inherited the studio of his father, the painter Jan van der Stockt (died ca. 1444-45). Vrancke probably trained with his father, but the most pervasive influence on his art was from Rogier van der Weyden (ca. 1399/1400-1464). Van der Stockt was a friend and possibly a collaborator of van der Weyden, and succeeded him as official painter to the town of Brussels in 1464. Van der Stockt held significant administrative positions in Brussels, and served several times as town councillor between 1465 and 1475. He and his wife, Catherine de Moeyen, had five children, of whom two were painters: Bernaert (before 1469-ca. 1538) and Michiel (b. before 1469).

There are no documented paintings known by van der Stockt, but he is recognized as the most direct follower and popularizer of the art of Rogier van der Weyden. A fairly large, homogeneous group of works--both paintings and drawings--have been attributed to him based on their relationship to the Redemption triptych in the Museo del Prado, Madrid (inv. 1881-1892), first isolated and identified as a work by this follower of van der Weyden in the 1920s.8

General References

Brunard, Andrée. "Vrancke Van der Stockt (Successeur de Roger van der Weyden en qualité de peintre officiel de la Ville de Bruxelles)." In Bruxelles au XVme siècle, Brussels, 1953, pp. 73-84.

Périer-D'Ieteren, C. In The Dictionary of Art. Vol. 29. Edited by Jane Turner. London and New York, 1996, pp. 691-93.

Provenance
Collection H. Oppenheimer, London

His sale, London, 24 July 1936, lot 6 (as by Aelbert Bouts)

Art market, Vienna (1937)

With E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, from whom purchased in 1942

Exhibitions
New York, M. Knoedler & Company, Inc., 1954. Paintings and Drawings from Five Centuries: Collection Allen Memorial Art Museum. 3 - 21 February. Cat. no. 21. Lawrence, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 1969. The Waning Middle Ages. 1 November - 1 December. Cat. no. 27.

Literature
Friedländer, Max J. Die Altniederlandische Malerei. Vol. 14. Leiden, 1937, p. 87.

Duverger, J. In Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, eds., Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antieke bis zur Gegenwart. Vol. 32. Leipzig, 1938, p. 69.

Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1967, pp. 143-44, fig. 14.

Friedländer, Max J. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 2, Rogier van der Weyden and the Master of Flémalle. Leiden and Brussels, 1967, pp. 57, 99 n. 15.

Schrader, J. L. The Waning Middle Ages. Exh. cat., Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1969, pp. 30-32, no. 27.

Harbison, Craig. "A Late 15th Century Flemish Panel Attributed to Vrancke van der Stockt." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 30, no. 2 (Winter 1973), pp. 52-62.

Sander, Jochen. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel 1400-1550. Mainz, 1993, p. 324, n. 43.

Technical Data
This panel has been removed from its original context as the left wing of a triptych (see Main Text). The radially cut panel (probably oak), vertically grained, has been thinned to about 0.5 cm (7/32 in.), probably prior to acquisition by the museum. A layer of glass cloth and a balsa reinforcement were applied to the back of the panel in 1969 to stabilize it. Along the left side of the panel is an unpainted margin about 0.6 cm (1/4 in.) wide; the edge of the painted area is raised in a "barb" indicating the original presence of an engaged frame. The panel and painted surface have been cut along the right, bottom, and top sides, the latter somewhat unevenly. The paint layer is thin and opaque, over a chalky white ground. There is extensive underdrawing visible with infrared, showing minor changes to the face of the donor and the left side of his book, and to the feet and toes of John the Baptist. There are moderate losses to the paint and ground, especially along the right side and in the baptism group to the right of the saint's head. The painting was cleaned and treated at the ICA (Intermuseum Laboratory) in 1969, at which time the overpaint that had masked the baptism scene was removed and the damaged areas inpainted.

Footnotes
1. Wolfgang Stechow, Catalogue of European and American Painting and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College (Oberlin, 1967), p. 144.

2. Most recently on Rogier's painting, see Jochen Sander, Niederländische Gemälde im Städel 1400-1550 (Mainz, 1993), pp. 316-34.

3. Craig Harbison, "A Late 15th Century Flemish Panel Attributed to Vrancke van der Stockt," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 30, no. 2 (Winter 1973), p. 53.

4. Rogier van der Weyden, Baptism of Christ (central panel of the Saint John Altarpiece), oil on panel, 77 x 48 cm, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, inv. 534B. On the connection with van der Stockt's painting, see J. L. Schrader, in The Waning Middle Ages (exh. cat., Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas Museum, Lawrence, 1969), p. 31; and Craig Harbison, "A Late 15th Century Flemish Panel Attributed to Vrancke van der Stockt," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 30, no. 2 (Winter 1973), pp. 55-58.

5. Oil on panel, 46 x 20 cm, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, inv. 44.15.

6. Wolfgang Stechow, Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College (Oberlin, 1967), p. 144; the Deposition (oil on panel, 38.5 x 38 cm) is reproduced in the Mémorial of the exhibition, "Cinq Siècles d'Art," Brussels (1935), pl. XI.

7. Craig Harbison, "A Late 15th Century Flemish Panel Attributed to Vrancke van der Stockt," Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 30, no. 2 (Winter 1973), pp. 58-62. J. L. Schrader (The Waning Middle Ages [exh. cat., Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1969], p. 32) suggested that the central panel of the triptych may have depicted a Virgin and Child Enthroned, a Sacra conversazione, or a Throne of Mercy, but was unable to cite a specific image.

8. By [Georges] Hulin de Loo, "Stockt (Vrancke van der)," in Biographie nationale...de Belgique 24 (Brussels, 1926-29), cols. 66-76. On drawings attributed to van der Stockt, see Micheline Comblen-Sonkes, "Les Dessins du Maître de la Rédemption du Prado, le présumé Vrancke van der Stockt," Revue archéologues et historiens d'art de Louvain 4 (1973), pp. 98-125.