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Abraham Bloemaert

Psyche

Abraham Bloemaert

Signed, centre right: ABloemaert

Oil on canvas, 78.7 x 110.2 cm

VP4598

Provenance

Private collection, America


Essay

Abraham Bloemaert, whose rich, successful career spans some seven decades, was born at Christmas Eve 1566.(i)  In his 1604 Schilder-Boeck, artist biographer Karel van Mander gives a detailed description of Bloemaert’s early life, which presumes he knew Bloemaert personally. Son of the Dordrecht-born Catholic sculptor Cornelis Bloemaert and his wife Aeltgen Willems, Abraham and his family moved from Gorinchem to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but returned in 1571. By 1576 – Aeltgen had deceased by that time – the family lived in Utrecht.  After some short-lived apprenticeships with the painters Gerrit Splinter (active 1569-1589) and Joost de Beer (d. 1599) and failed efforts to become apprenticed to the famous Anthony van Blocklandt (1533-1583) and the unknown Rotterdam painter Hendrick Huytgenshoeck, Bloemaert went to Paris in 1581/82.  There he studied with the otherwise unknown Maître Henry and Ambrosius Francken (1544/45-1618), and came into contact with the Mannerist painters of the School of Fontainebleau.  Around 1585 he was back in Utrecht, where his career took off.  In 1591 Bloemaert moved to Amsterdam, where in 1592 he married the rich spinster Judith van Schonenburgh, twenty years his senior.  Although he moved back to Utrecht in 1593, the Amsterdam period proved crucial, if only because he got acquainted with the network of the painter Cornelis Ketel (1548-1616), the printmaker Harmen Jansz. Muller (c. 1540-1617) and artists from their circle. In addition, he probably spent time in nearby Haarlem, for his work betrays an intimate knowledge of the work of Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1562-1638), Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) and Karel van Mander (1548-1606).  After Van Schonenburgh’s death in 1599, he married Gerarda de Roij in 1600.  The couple had numerous children, four of whom became painters themselves.  Bloemaert’s work shows a development from a stark Mannerism inspired by Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611) and Goltzius from the turn of the century, towards a more subdued Mannerism, and ultimately a mature naturalistic style in the following decades.  Bloemaert, who was one of the founders of the Utrecht Guild of St Luke in 1611, played a key role in the formation of a distinct Utrecht school.  His numerous pupils included his own children as well as Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656), Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629), Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594/95-1667) and Jan van Bijlert (1597/98-1671). Some of them, especially Honthorst, in turn inspired their master after their return from Italy in making several Caravaggist works.  In addition to painting, Bloemaert is known as a talented, prolific draughtsman. Many prints after his designs are known. 

The present painting, which recently surfaced in America, is an exceptionally ambitious work with a rather complex genesis.  As will be demonstrated here, it is relatable to several works by Bloemaert himself and other artists, painted, as well as on paper and in print.  Depicted is a breath-taking, pale-skinned sleeping nude female, reclining on the luscious pillows and sheets of a four-poster bed. She is painted in a smooth sfumato, emphasising the softness of her skin. All that covers her is a fully transparent veil over her pubic area.  In the upper left corner the bed’s green, gold and red curtain cleverly enhances the feeling of arousing disclosure.  Greatly adding to this feeling is the chubby putto on the left who stands next to the sleeping nude, lifting that same curtain in the lower right, while apparently admiring her veil.  His left arm is stretched diagonally, as if he were inviting someone to come closer. No further clues are given; no attributes direct us to the correct interpretation of this sexually charged work. Bloemaert has left us in the dark. Who is this sleeping beauty? 

Although the present work is published here for the first time, a weak copy from a Swiss private collection was included in the 1993 catalogue raisonné on Bloemaert by Professor Marcel Roethlisberger. (ii)  Roethlisberger rightly assessed the Swiss painting not to be autograph.  He catalogued it as a subject-altered imitation after Bloemaert’s marvellous Danaë, executed in print by the Haarlem printmaker Jacob Matham (1571-1631) in 1610. (iii)  Indeed, although the Swiss copy (thus in consequence the Lilian original) obviously does not depict Danaë – who is invariably shown at the moment she receives Jupiter in the form of a golden rain – the analogy between both of Bloemaert’s compositions with their closely corresponding reclining nudes is very clear.  Moreover, based upon a stylistic comparison with the Matham print, the present work was arguably created during the same period, an assertion that was confirmed when during the cleaning of the work Bloemaert’s signature and the date 1608 were discovered.  As Roethlisberger remarks, the Swiss copy was listed as a Sleeping Venus when auctioned with Sotheby’s London in 1986. (iv)  However, Roethlisberger himself labels the picture as Psyche and Cupid, pointing to Bloemaert’s own rendering of that subject, again known from a print after his design engraved by Jacob Matham in 1607.(v) ‘By analogy with Matham’s print’, Roethlisberger states, ‘Cupid is moved to the opposite side and enlarged […] On the evidence of this print, the sleeper in the painting must likewise be interpreted as Psyche, not Venus.’  Indeed, although other stories of sleeping reclining nudes were often depicted as well, it is clear from the iconography that Venus and Psyche are by far the most logical candidates.  As we shall see, Bloemaert’s dazzling image roots in the pictorial traditions of both subjects.  For a better understanding, it is beneficial to turn briefly to the pictorial traditions of both subjects, about which Bloemaert was very well informed.

Venus and Cupid

The theme of the reclining nude Venus and Cupid, the goddess of love and the god of desire and erotic attraction, commonly thought of as mother and son, has been extremely popular in the visual arts since antiquity.  In obvious demand by clients who wished their houses adorned with a sensuous, voyeuristic image, the theme also served as an excellent vehicle for artistic emulation.  In Renaissance Italy, Venus and Cupid were immortalised by the most famous artists of their time, including Botticelli (1445-1510), Michelangelo (1475-1564), Palma Vecchio (c. 1480-1528), Lorenzo Lotto (c. 1480-1557) and Titian (c. 1488-1576).  Though many variations in setting and rendering occur, the depiction of the subject seems generally characterised by three pictorial rules, or conditions. Firstly, mother and son are usually depicted as adult and a child; secondly, Cupid can be identified from his constant attributes, the bow, quiver and arrows; thirdly, mother and child are either both awake (in most cases), or both asleep.  In addition, a range of figures could join Venus and Cupid, including male lovers such as Adonis, Mercury, Mars, or one or two voyeuristic Satyrs.  Further, one or more anonymous putti, resembling Cupid but lacking his attributes, often enlivened the image. Whereas the first condition is basically never contested, exceptions to the second and third condition sometimes occur, yet one seldom finds them concurrently, no doubt because most artists strived for a ‘readable’ image. For instance, a Venus and Cupid by Titian’s pupil Paris Bordone (1500-1571) of around 1540 depicts Venus sleeping while a little putto mischievously pulls back a cloth from the goddess. Still, this putto can safely be identified as Cupid for his bow and quiver hang from a branch of a tree. 

Clearly artists weren’t mere slavish followers of pictorial traditions and conditions. On the contrary, the more innovative ones could elaborate on and play with conventions and rules, deliberately move back and forth between pictorial traditions, their own intentions and the viewer’s expectations. This is, for instance, the case with Titian and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609). Titian’s famous Pardo Venus of around 1540 in the Louvre depicts Cupid flying above a sleeping nude, while a Satyr is secretly lifting her veil.  In Carracci’s well-known print of the same subject, Cupid witnesses the spying Satyr, seemingly even acting as his collaborator.  In both works Cupid’s identity is underlined by his bow and quiver.  Yet despite the title Pardo Venus, both Titian’s painting and the Carracci print have often been interpreted as Antiope spied upon by Jupiter disguised as a Satyr.  Although both Titian and Carracci omitted an attribute specifically identifying the horned voyeur as Jupiter (and one could thus technically conclude that they merely depicted a Satyr), the association with the iconographically adjacent theme of Jupiter and Antiope will – as they surely knew and anticipated on – have been one the informed beholder’s mind. 

Netherlandish artists of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century responded to their southern colleagues’ imagery, often with their own iconographic adaptions.  Several imposing pictures of Venus and Cupid have come down to us from masters like Titian’s pupil Lambert Sustris (c. 1515-1591) and Maerten van Heemskerck (1498-1574), who both spent years in Italy.  Yet it was clearly Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) and his Haarlem Mannerist circle – with whom Bloemaert had connections – who played a catalyst role in the depiction of the female reclining nude in the Northern Netherlands around 1600.(vi)  The erotically charged Danaë of 1603 shows Goltzius’ huge ambitions and must have made an enormous impact on art lovers and colleagues alike, boosting artistic competition. Karel van Mander, for instance, describes a no longer known life-size painting of Venus Spied upon by Satyrs of c. 1604 by Jaques de Gheyn II (1565-1629), who worked as Bloemaert’s engraver on various occasions during the 1590’s. (vii)  In turn, Goltzius’ masterly Jupiter and Antiope of 1612 will have been a reaction on a work like that. Clearly owing much to Carracci’s Venus and a Satyr print,(viii) Goltzius’ inclusion of Jupiter’s attribute, the thunderbolt, and the name ‘Antiopa’ on the yellow cloth left no doubt to a correct identification, and again shows how the artist was able to thematically interchange by omitting or including iconographical clues. (ix) 

As is so often the case, the widespread print production in particular played a crucial role in the development of the pictorial tradition. Many Dutch mannerist prints from the period around 1600 (mostly by Goltzius and his circle) show a reclining Venus with Cupid, often surrounded by the ever-present putti. An engraving by Jan Saenredam (1565-1607), a pupil of both Goltzius and De Gheyn, after a design by the former, may serve as a fine example. In several instances too, a male lover accompanies Venus, as is the case in a 1588 Venus and Mars by Goltzius after Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611) which no doubt inspired Bloemaert’s design for his Cupid and Psyche print of 1607.  The period’s fascination with all this explicitly amorous subject matter triggered the artists to search for possibilities to expand its voyeuristic potential, in other words, to increase the direct involvement of the viewer with the image.  An early but successful effort is a modest engraving by Jan Harmensz Muller (1571-1628), who was the son Bloemaert’s Amsterdam friend Harmen Jansz Muller, a student of Goltzius and another of Bloemaert’s engravers around 1593.(x)  Muller’s engraving, datable in precisely that period (c. 1592/94), depicts Venus reclining in the clouds, while Cupid looks at the beholder and points his arrow directly at him. (xi)  A text (in reverse) reads: ‘Quis Evadet’, who can escape Cupid’s arrows of love when seeing such an attractive female nude?  Although strictly not his own invention, Muller fully exploited the voyeuristic innuendo of this pictorial gimmick, and the motif was consequently taken over by, among others, De Gheyn, who applied it in his prints c. 1605. (xii)  Moreover, De Gheyn’s painting Venus and Cupid of c. 1605-1610, in which the nude Venus seductively glares at the beholder, arguably inspired Werner van den Valckert’s (c. 1580/85-in or after 1627) masterly Venus and Cupid of c. 1612.  Likewise, Van den Valckert’s 1612 dated print of two Satyrs spying on a sleeping Venus and Cupid while urging the beholder not to awake mother and son, was probably inspired on De Gheyn’s take on the subject, described by Van Mander in 1604.(xiii)

Regarding as a whole the broad pictorial tradition of Venus and Cupid, and specifically the turn-of-the-century Dutch developments of which Bloemaert would have taken his main inspiration, one can say that the pictorial conditions outlined above mainly remained intact. Still, artists could adjust, clarify or even blur the exact subject of their work by means of adding or omitting pictorial motifs and attributes.  Venus’s explicit nudity lent itself perfectly to a voyeuristic approach, and a specific group of artists with whom Bloemaert was clearly connected, keenly aware of the pictorial possibilities, soon responded to this by emulating each other’s work, actively involving the (male) viewer in the action taking place within the picture plane and turning him into a voyeur himself. 

Psyche and Cupid

Unlike the narratively rather diffuse and wide-ranging subject of Venus and Cupid, the theme of Psyche and Cupid is firmly cemented in a classical myth written down in the second century AD, when the Roman writer Apuleius included it in his Golden Ass, book 4-6. The princess Psyche is so beautiful, and for that reason so beloved, that her admirers begin to neglect the worship of Venus herself.  This of course infuriates Venus, who instructs Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous man. Cupid, though, falls in love with Psyche and starts paying her nightly visits.  Curious about her secret lover’s identity, whom she is unable to see in the darkness, Psyche decides to spy upon the sleeping Cupid with an oil lamp, thus discovering his true identity.  Unfortunately she drips oil on Cupid, who flees.  In search of her lover, the heartbroken Psyche wanders endlessly, being given several trials by Venus, the last of which causes her to fall into a deep torpor.  When Cupid finds her, he draws the sleep from her face, and the reunited pair then marries before the assembled gods. 

The various episodes of the myth have been often depicted, perhaps most famously by Raphael (1483-1520) in the Loggia di Psiche in the Villa Farnesina, in Rome. Obviously, the episodes relevant to the present Bloemaert work are Cupid’s nightly visits, and the iconographically adjacent moment of Cupids finding the slumbering Psyche, both essentially voyeuristic. (xiv)  Even taken together, the subjects do not appear quite as much as that of Venus and Cupid.  In contrast with Cupid’s depiction as a child when he is in the company of his mother Venus, the Cupid who visits Psyche at night is a sexually active youth.  One would therefore expect that within that specific context he would be depicted as an adolescent. Surprisingly, an early print series devoted to the story of Psyche by the Master of the Die after designs sometimes given to Raphael, but rather by Michiel Coxie (1499-1592), and datable c. 1535, presents Cupid – as always with his bow and quiver – as a small chubby putto, even when he sleeps with Psyche.  We do find Cupid as an adolescent in the Psyche and Cupid print by Giovanni Giacomo Caraglio (c. 1500/05-1565) after a design by Perino del Vaga (1501-1547) of c. 1527, from the series Love of the Gods. Cupid here enters Psyche’s bed while she is sleeping with her back turned towards the beholder and her right arm over her head.  Bloemaert was no doubt familiar with this print given its mirror resemblance with Matham’s 1607 Psyche and Cupid print after his own design, mentioned above. (xv) 

Despite later depictions by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1635), Anthony van Dyck (after 1635), Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert (c. 1640) and Jacob Jordaens (c. 1645), the subject is surprisingly uncommon in the Netherlands around the turn of the century (especially considering the enthusiasm for the female nude).  Except for Bloemaert’s own design for the Matham engraving of 1607, the first and only significant example in print is the large scale Cupid and Psyche done in the 1590’s by Jan Harmensz Muller after a design by Bartholomeus Spranger. (xvi)  As the adolescent Cupid approaches the sleeping Psyche from the right foreground, a putto takes off his quiver.  While another putto to the left pours water on the torch on the ground – an obvious sexual innuendo also exemplifying the darkness of the rendez-vous – a third putto lifts up the bed’s curtain, and exposes Psyche to Cupid.  Spranger’s print must have made a huge impact on his colleagues.  Bloemaert was keenly aware of it, for he included the figure of Cupid in his large painting Wedding of Peleus and Thetis of c. 1590/95.  An exceptional Mannerist painting depicting Cupid watching over the sleeping Psyche was long attributed to the circle of Spranger, until in 2000 Marcel Roethlisberger convincingly ascribed it to none other than Abraham Bloemaert. Roethlisberger, describing Bloemaert as ‘an emerging artist during his early twenties, confronted with Cornelis and the example of Spranger’, regards it as his first ever painting, ‘an ambitious effort of the young master to place himself into the limelight.’(xvii)  Indeed, the daring work seems to combine the pose of the Caraglio print after Perino (the arm over Psyche’s head), which Bloemaert as seen used for the Psyche and Cupid of 1607, with the frontal nudity of Spranger’s design.  So as it turns out, Bloemaert was the artist who picked up on the theme more than any other artist in the Netherlands at the time. 

As demonstrated, the themes of Venus and Cupid and Psyche and Cupid have a distinct pictorial tradition.  Still, artists could very well borrow motifs and compositions of one theme and implement them in the other. That Bloemaert was more than familiar to this practice becomes clear from the 1607 Psyche and Cupid print, for which he borrowed from both Goltzius’ 1588 Venus and Mars, after Spranger, and the Caroglio Psyche and Cupid print after Perino.  Partly overlapping as the themes are, their protagonists do have their specific features and attributes through which the beholder is able to recognise and distinguish them.   Since artists were all but aware of the necessity of providing clues, one must assume that in cases where those clues are missing this was done on purpose. 

Such a deliberate disguising is definitely what Bloemaert planned on in the execution of the present work.  The reason for doing so seems twofold: one the one hand, Bloemaert could present himself as a learned and ingenious painter, while on the other hand it appealed to the beholder’s intellectual excitement.  Since no clues are given, the beholder is supposed to make up for this lack himself.  So on a basic level Bloemaert indeed left the choice up to the beholder.  The nude is whoever he – such a risqué picture was obviously foremost intended for a male audience – desires her to be, and differing interpretations are implicitly allowed. But for the informed connoisseur who was able to truly appreciate Bloemaert’s puzzle, such a diffuse conclusion would be too easy to simply settle for. 

The initial identification that comes to mind is that of Venus and Cupid.  After all, it was the more current subject and the image concurs with its most basic pictorial condition, Venus and Cupid are depicted as an adult and a child. However, the supposed Cupid misses his identifying bow and quiver and at the same time is awake while the presumed Venus sleeps. Precisely this combination of lacking conditions rarely occurs, and should thus leave the informed beholder slightly ambiguous. At this point another aspect asks for attention. As noticed, the would-be Cupid seems to disclose the bed curtain and present the sleeping nude to us, the beholder, a popular knack among artists at the time. So as a voyeuristic innovation, Bloemaert included us (the beholder) in the work, just like he had seen in Muller’s Venus and Cupid in the Clouds (‘Quis Evadet’) and more recently in De Gheyn’s work, and just as his Amsterdam colleague Werner van den Valckert would soon do in painting and print. Were we to accept the Venus and Cupid identification and the absence of further clues, we could imagine ourselves in the role of Mars, or Adonis, a Satyr or Vulcan. The beholder could, in fact, even imagine himself to be Jupiter spying on Antiope if he so desired. Although it is by no means said that Bloemaert did  not deliberately leave open all these options of interpretation, the fact remains that if he had solely intended it that way, the picture would not at all have suffered narratively if he had simply added Cupid’s bow and quiver. For if he had done so, all these optional interpretations would still remain intact.  Yet the fact that the clever Bloemaert did not seems to point to another, ingenious and more neatly fitting solution. 

As has been seen, Bloemaert had a history with the theme of Psyche.  His very first work, the ambitious Psyche and Cupid of 1590/95, directly relates back to Spranger’s Psyche and Cupid, and that of Perino del Vaga, while his 1607 print owes much to Perino and Goltzius.  The present picture, were it to depict Psyche and Cupid, therefore directly presents us with a problem.  The presumed Cupid is a chubby child, while the Cupid in both Perino’s design and in that of Spranger is an adolescent youth.  Admittedly, the Master of the Die print cycle after Coxie indeed renders Cupid as a chubby child.  But in his two renderings of the subject, Bloemaert made it poignantly clear that in his view Cupid was an adolescent, to be depicted in the way Spranger and Perino had done.  Moreover, if Bloemaert wanted to innovate and emulate – and the present picture surely attests to such aspirations – he would have looked to his direct examples and competitors, the Mannerist circle of Goltzius, Cornelis and Spranger.  And so he did. 

Spranger’s Psyche and Cupid print had been a source of inspiration for his early Psyche and Cupid; he used it a second time for his repoussoir figure in his Wedding of Peleus and Thetis; and he used it again as his point of departure for the present work.  For the present work is nothing less than a brilliant innovation of the Spranger design.  Everything falls in place when one reconsiders the painting in relation to the print.  The nude clearly relates directly to Spranger’s Psyche.(xviii)  However, the virile Cupid in the Spranger print (N.B.: with bow and quiver) is incomparable to the child in the present picture, which Roethlisberger assumed to be Cupid when discussing the Swiss copy.  This is simply because he is not Cupid at all, but merely the little anonymous putto in the background of Spranger’s print, who uncovers and presents Psyche to Cupid; hence his lack of attributes, and hence his childish appearance.  As for Cupid, about to enter the bed of his breath-taking princess, he is none other than the beholder himself, and herein lays the cleverness of the innovation.  Bloemaert combined pictorial traditions with the fashionable, voyeuristic concept of beholder participation.  He fooled the beholder by seemingly referring to the standard Venus and Cupid iconography.  Yet factually, Bloemaert simply took a frame out of the Spranger print and zoomed in on the nude Psyche, who is being uncovered by one of the ever-present putti, a function they – as pointed out above – have in many paintings and prints, including Spranger’s.  Most ingeniously of all, Bloemaert deliberately excluded Spranger’s voyeuristic, lustful Cupid, about to make love to Psyche. In doing so he gave that steamy role to the informed beholder, who – standing at Psyche’s bedside – could quite literally picture himself (with Spranger’s image in mind) as the divine lover, about to enter her bed. 

Jasper Hillegers


i For biographical references, see M.J. Bok, in: M. Roethlisberger, M.J.Bok, Abraham Bloemaert and his sons, 2 vols., Doornspijk 1993, pp. 551-587; C.J.A. Wansink, in: J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, 34 vols., New York 1996, 4, pp. 150-153.

ii After Abraham Bloemaert, oil on canvas, 75 x 104 cm., Switzerland, private collection. See: Roethlisberger/Bok 1993, I, p. 149, under cat. no. 106, no. 2, fig. 186. 

iii No painting of the subject by Bloemaert is known. For the preliminal drawings, see: J. Bolten, Abraham Bloemaert, c.1565-1651 : the drawings, 2 vols., Leiden 2007, I, pp. 176-177, cat. no’s 492, 493, II, ill.

iv Sale London, Sotheby’s, 29 October 1986, lot 31, Sleeping Venus, Prague School.

v Roethlisberger/Bok 1993, I, pp. 145-146, cat. 102.

vi Essential reading on this topic is: E.J. Sluijter, ‘Venus, Visus and Pictura’, in: idem., Seductress of Sight : Studies in Dutch Art of the Golden Age, Zwolle 2000, pp. 86-159

vii K. van Mander, Het Schilder-Boeck, Haarlem 1604, fol. 294v. 

viii In addition, Goltzius must have looked at Agostino Carraci’s Nympf and Sater print of c. 1585-1600. See: Sluijter 2000, pp. 158-159, fig. 126.

ix Larry Nichols recently touched upon this confusion in his discussion of Goltzius’ two large canvases depicting both themes. See L.W. Nichols, The paintings of Hendrick Goltzius 1558-1617 : A Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné, Doornspijk 2013, cat. nos. A37, A45.

x Muller was responsible for engraving Bloemaert’s influential Raising of Lazarus. See: Roethlisberger/Bok 1993, I, pp. 78-81, cat. 31.

xi J.P. Filedt Kok, The new Hollstein : Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts 1450-1700 : The Muller Dynasty, 3 vols (1999), II, p. 66. no. 11

xii Another early example of Cupid pointing an arrow at the beholder is an engraving of Jupiter and Cupid by Heinrich Aldegrever, dated 1533. See for examples of archers pointing their arrows directly at the beholder E. De Jongh, G. Luijten, Mirror of everyday life : genreprints in the Netherlands 1550-1700, exh. cat. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum 1997, cat. 21.

xiii E.J. Sluijter, ‘“Les regards dards”: Werner van den Valckert’s Venus and Cupid’, in A. Golahny et al. (eds.), In His Milieu : Essays on Netherlandish Art in Memory of John Michael Montias, Amsterdam 2006, pp. 423-439, p. 425. 

xiv Roethlisberger/Bok 1993, I, pp. 145-146, cat. 102, distinguishes two possible episodes for the Bloemaert/Matham Psyche and Cupid print of 1607: Cupid’s nightly visit to Psyche, or their marriage. The latter option seems improbable.

xv A 1708 print by John Smith after a now lost, but very similar painting by presumably Titian resembles the Matham print even closer, suggesting Bloemaert might have been familiar with that composition as well. The print forms part of a series of 9 mezzotints, commonly known as ‘The Loves of the Gods’: Nine Prints From the Celebrated Paintings of Titian, in the Duke of Marlboroughs Gallery, at Blenheim, done after a series of leather wall-hangings formerly in the Titian Room at Blenheim destroyed by fire in 1861. The attribution to Titian is uncertain, however, and was doubted as early as 1766 (see G. Scharf, Catalogue Raisonné : Blenheim Palace, London, 1862, pp. 83-92).

xvi J.P. Filedt Kok, ‘Jan Harmensz Muller as a Printmaker – 1’, in: Print Quarterly XI (1994), pp. 223-264, pp. 248-250, dates the print to c. 1600 on stylistic grounds. This dating, however, ignores the fact that Bloemaert used the figure of Cupid in his Wedding of Peleus and Thetis of c. 1590/95 (See: Roethlisberger 1993, I, pp. 62-65, cat. 12).

xvii M.G. Roethlisberger, ‘Abraham Bloemaert: Recent Additions to His Paintings’, in: Artibus et historiae : an art anthology 41 (2000), pp. 151-169, 152-155, figs. 1, 2.

xviii This becomes all the more clear when one takes in consideration Bloemaert’s abovementioned Danaë (fig. 1), who comes extremely close to the present nude, but borrows from Spranger’s Psyche her (Psyche’s) left hand position, instead of her right hand one, indicating Bloemaert used Spranger’s Psyche for both of them.



Abraham Bloemaert

Gorinchem 1566 – 1651 Utrecht

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