Adriaen van OVERBEKE
(Active in Antwerp between ca 1508 – 1529)
Triptych. Ecce Homo
Oil on panel 68 x 56 x 23 cm
Adriaen van Overbeke lived in the house “Schylt van Engelant” on Keizerstraat in Antwerp. In 1508 he was listed as painter in the Liggeren, the register of Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke.
The painting “Ecce homo” belongs to the Antwerp Mannerists group and in translation the heading means “behold the man”. The central panel depicts the episode in which Pontius Pilate presents Jesus with his crown of thorns to the mob. In the 15th century this was a much-appreciated subject as it was regarded as the embodiment of an ideal prince and his rejection of barbaric treatment of infidels. The figures on the central panel contrast with the depiction of the donators on the side panels who are represented in a sober, classic style pertaining to the 15th century Flemish tradition. The donators can be identified by their coats-of-arms. They are John Vowell and Alice Hooker from a renowned family of the late 15th and the 16th century, established in England, whose most famous descendant was Richard Hooker (1554 –1600), the founder of Anglican theological thought. The donators are depicted under the protection of their patron saints, John the Baptist and Alice. The latter is Alice de Schaerbeck (ca 1225 – ca 1250) a Cistercian nun who became a leper (hence the cut-off hands). The crown may refer to Queen Alice, the second wife of Otto I, who lived in the 10th century, succeeded her husband and reigned over Germany. This painting can be viewed as a milestone in Adriaen van Overbeke’s work. On the front sides of the closed wings of the triptych two skulls with memento mori: As I am so shall you be /And as you be so was I are depicted.
Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland
Exhibition’s catalogue “Art Rules”, Tallinn, 2015
Exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall, 5 June 2015 – 5 October 2015, Estonia