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Katharine Campbell Searches Out Quentin Metsys Works

Jacob van Cotham, Averbode Altarpiece, c. 1510

This research trip was crucial to the first chapter of Kate Campbell's (History of Art) dissertation, which situates Quentin Metsys’s work in Antwerp as triggering a paradigm shift in Antwerp artists’ conceptions of their own artmaking practices.

In Belgium she was able to study Metsys’s paintings in collections and archives of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Antwerp. This research focused on the Saint John Altarpiece, made c. 1511 for the altar of the Joiners’ Guild in Antwerp’s cathedral. She studied documents related to provenance and conservation of the painting dating back to the nineteenth century and visited the Antwerp municipal archive to look for documents of the Joiners’ Guild related to the commission of the altarpiece. She was also able to study and photograph an undigitized copy of Franchoys Fickaert’s Metamorphosis (1648), the first monograph on Metsys, in the collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

The second half of the trip was spent at a conference in Belgium and continuing her research in Spain. The Historians of Netherlandish Art, a major conference in the field was held this year at Ghent University, where Kate gave a Pecha Kucha presentation on my dissertation. In Madrid She studied several of Metsys’s works in the collection of the Prado Museum, including The Temptation of Saint Anthony, made in collaboration with Joachim Patinir c. 1520-24. There she met Christine Seidel and Alejandro Vergara, curators of Flemish painting, and discussed Metsys’s working methods with them.

She returned with a better understanding of Metsys’s typical practices and his reception in seventeenth-century art literature, as well as a better understanding of the work of his collaborator, Patinir.