Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart), 'An Elderly Couple'

Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.13 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing the man’s right eye
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Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.14 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing stubble on the man’s chin
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Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.16 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing the decoration on the staff held by the man
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Description

The man, who has grey hair and brown eyes (see fig.13 left, and photomicrograph m2 in Image Viewer) and who is rather inefficiently shaved (fig.14), wears a black cap with lappets that have been turned up and buttoned to the crown of the cap. The hat-badge is a cameo, framed in gold and showing a young man and a young woman, both nude (fig.15). Standing in front of a tree, they are embracing. The youth may be wearing a wreath and holds a staff in his right hand; the young woman holds a cornucopia in her left hand. They could be Mercury and Fortuna (or Tyche), whose emblem was a cornucopia: they are the gods of trade and prosperity.6 Alternatively, they could be Mars and Venus. Her billowing veil is reminiscent of the headdress of Gossart's ‘Venus’ (Brussels);7 and in a painting of ‘Mars, Venus and Cupid’, by a follower of Gossart, Mars holds a cornucopia.8 From the man’s hat hang two dark grey or black ribbons. Over a white shirt he wears a black garment tied at the neck with an elaborate lace. Over that is a grey or black doublet, complicated in its structure and lined in red. His gown, lined and trimmed with brown fur, is purple; and he holds a brown, presumably wooden, staff, its head encased in silver engraved with patterns in the grotesque style (fig.16).

Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.15 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing the man’s hat badge
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The woman, whose eyes are grey (see fig.17 below, and photomicrograph m31 in Image Viewer) and who has brownish hair on her upper lip (fig.18), wears a white veil held in place with two golden pins (touched out by a restorer) and a black dress lined with brownish fur.

Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.17 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing the woman’s right eye
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Jan Gossaert, 'An Elderly Couple'
fig.18 Photomicrograph of NG1689 showing hairs on the upper lip of the woman
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Further Sections

6. Hackenbroch 1996, pp. 260–1.

7. Friedländer, vol. VIII, no. 44.

8. Wetzlar sale, Sotheby Mak Van Waay, Amsterdam, 9 June 1977, lot 121; Friedländer, vol. VIII, no. 46.
 
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