Gillis Mostaert Hans Vredeman de Vries - David Entrusting Uriah with the Letter to Joab
Hans Vredeman de Vries
David Entrusting Uriah with the Letter to Joab
Oil on panel. 39 x 66 cm.
This painting is a fine example of the kinds of works made in cooperation between the two Antwerp artists Hans Vredeman de Vries and Gillis Mostaert, the architecture being painted by de Vries and the figures by Mostaert (exhib. cat. Lemgo 2002, no. 125).
Hans Vredeman de Vries was an important intermediary between the Italian Renaissance and the art of the Netherlands. In his work as an architect, architectural theorist and painter, he was partially responsible for introducing central perspective to the Netherlands. His series of prints on perspective published by Hieronymus Cock in Antwerp were a significant source of inspiration for many Netherlandish artists.
An opulent Renaissance palace constructed using the classical rules of architecture forms the stage for this Old Testament tale, told in Samuel 11. We see King David handing a letter for the General Joab to the soldier Uriah. In this letter, the King instructs Joab to have the innocent Uriah killed in the front line of an upcoming battle so that David can continue his affair with his wife Bathsheba. The artist has designed the architecture so as to direct the viewer's gaze towards the protagonists. The vanishing point is located directly beside the head of David.
This piece is a fine example of a work created in cooperation between de Vries and Mostaert in the late 1560s. Heiner Borggrefe interprets this work, along with the “Massacre of the Roman Triumvirate” and the “Massacre of the Innocents” as a critical commentary by the artists on current political events in Flanders and the repressive politics of the Spanish under Alba and Philipp II. Borggrefe interprets the figure of David as a representation of the Spanish King, and postulates that the work could have been left behind in Antwerp when Hans Vredeman de Vries was forced to flee to Aachen.
Private collection, West Germany.
Exhib. cat.: Lemgo 2002: Hans Vredeman de Vries und die Renaissance im Norden. Ed. by Heiner Borggrefe u.a. München 2002, p. 287f, no. 125.