Marten de Vos, attributed to
ALLEGORY OF PATIENCE
Oil on canvas (relined). 76 x 108 cm.
This previously lost painting can be seen in the 1935 catalogue of the 'Galerie Stern', Düsseldorf. In 1980 Armin Zweite only attributed the painting as a works by Martin de Vos due to the inability to view the original. He was, however, able to draw parallels between features such as the composition and the depiction of individual forms evident in other paintings of M. de Vos and thus dated it to circa 1585. The correct attribution of the painting is therefore credited to Zweite. Despite being titled 'Christ and the bound soul' in the 1935 catalogue, Zweite was able to demonstrate, due to several engravings from the time, that it was in fact an allegory of Patience.
Patience is here depicted as a naked woman sitting on straw and chained to rocks. To her right is a dead baby and an empty shell. The presence of the infant John the Baptist, to her left, refers to the light of salvation. Features in the background include burning houses, a sinking ship and a robbery scene.
With reference to the captions of etchings by Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos, it is possible to understand the symbolism behind the allegory of Patience: the salvation of man is guaranteed if he remains patient and steadfast in times of misery. Combined with an awareness of the political and economic situation in the Netherlands at the end of the 16th Century, the subject is particularly poignant. In another sense, the allegory can also be viewed within the context of the 'horrors of war'.
Martin de Vos was one of the most important and prolific painters working in Antwerp during the 16th Century, a time of great political upheaval and social and religious unrest. Stylistically, this painting can be associated with a small number of other compositions by the artist depicting a relatively large landscape, for example, 'The Repudiation of Hager' (Zweite Fig. 10), 'The Rape of Europa' (Zweite Fig. 55) and 'Saint Jerome in the Wilderness' (Zweite Fig. 82).
According to a letter of verification of „The New York State Banking Department's Holocaust Claims Processing Office“ (HCPO) in coordination with the „Max Stern Art Restitution Project ” dated September 4, 2012, there is no restitution claim on this painting.
Galerie Stern, Düsseldorf (exh.-cat. "Gemälde Alter und Neuer Meister", 22.6.-31.8.1935, p. 20, no. 77). - Private collection, Rhineland.
A. Zweite: Marten de Vos als Maler, Berlin 1980, p. 177ff. and p. 329, cat. no. Z14, ill. no. 156.