Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart), 'A Young Princess (Dorothea of Denmark?)'

Attribution and date


The eighteenth – or early nineteenth-century inscriptions on the reverse show that the portrait was then believed to be by Leonardo. At the 1882 exhibition it was attributed to Gossart and this attribution has been universally accepted.13 The style is in keeping with that of signed portraits by Gossart, for example the ‘Benedictine Monk’ of 1526 (Louvre),14 and indeed NG2211 would appear itself to be signed, in anagram, on the armillary sphere.


Davies cited Stella Mary Newton’s opinion that ‘the costume is fairly precisely datable ca. 1522’. She compared NG2211 with portraits of Charlotte(?) of France (Chicago and Minneapolis), attributed to Jean Clouet and probably painted in about 1522, and with Lucas van Leyden's ‘Donor presented by the Magdalen’ (Munich), dated 1522.15 There are, however, other resemblances, perhaps more significant, between NG2211 and portraits of Eleonora of Austria, drawn and painted in France in about 1530,16 or portraits of Mencía de Mendoza, Countess of Nassau, painted in the Low Countries in or shortly after 1530.17 In those portraits, as in NG2211, the sleeves are no longer of the same fabric as the rest of the dress and they are no longer wide and turned back to reveal large areas of lining as was the fashion in 1522. Eleonora and Mencía wear sleeves constructed from wide bands of rich material held together with jewelled clasps and their shirts are pulled through the gaps, which function much like slashings. In NG2211 the child’s sleeves are less complex in structure, since the bands are sewn onto the sleeves. The appliqué work may have made it possible for the child to follow fashion without having to cope with the open bands. The neckline of her bodice, curving upwards like Eleonora's, is very different from the lower, squarer necklines of the early and mid-1520s. Her necklace lies across her shoulders in the same position as Eleonora’s and the looping of the chain into a heart shape seems to reflect a fashion of c.1530.18 In composition and style, NG2211 resembles Gossart's paintings from the period 1526–32;19 it may therefore be dated around 1530–2.

Further Sections

13. Friedländer, vol. VIII, no. 75; Davies 1968, pp. 62–3.

14. Friedländer, vol. VIII, no. 72.

15. Davies 1968, p. 63, note 2; Mrs Newton’s notes on the picture are in the NG dossier. For the Chicago and Minneapolis portraits of Charlotte of France (1516–24), see Mellen 1971, plates 61–2; for the Lucas van Leyden, see Friedländer, vol. X, no. 114.

16. For Jean Clouet's drawing of Eleonora (Chantilly), see Mellen 1971, plate 65; for paintings by and after Joos van Cleve, see Friedländer, vol. IX, no. 108; Campbell 1985, pp. 24–6.

17. For the portraits of Mencía, see Friedländer, vol. IX, no. 109; Ainsworth in Ainsworth et al.

18. Compare the drawing of Eleonora of Austria cited in note 16 above; or the versions of Joos van Cleve’s portrait of Eleonora, Friedländer, vol. IX, nos 108 c, f-h.

19. Compare his ‘Children of Christian II of Denmark’ (Royal Collection) of c.1526 or his portrait of Anna of Bergen (Williamstown) of about the same date: Friedländer, vol. VIII, nos 79, 76; Ainsworth et al. 2010, pp. 272–3, 274–5.

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