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Lot 2019 Dα

Joos van Winghe - An Allegory of Fama

Auction 1197 - overview Cologne
21.05.2022, 11:00 - Old Masters
Estimate: 70.000 € - 90.000 €
Result: 112.500 € (incl. premium)

Joos van Winghe

An Allegory of Fama

Oil on canvas. 82 x 64 cm.
Signed upper right: Jodocus W..

The proceeds from this lot and Lempertz´s commission will be donated to humanitarian aid in the Ukraine.

She announces a person's fame, but also spreads evil rumours and malicious gossip - hardly any figure from antiquity is as contradictory, and for that reason as fascinating, as Fama, who makes her first major appearance in the Aeneid, where it is she who spreads the rumour about the unseemly relationship between Aeneas and Dido. Joos van Winghe shows Fama as a winged female being with fluttering hair, dressed in light, airy garments, sitting on a cloud and hovering above the earth. She blows one of her trumpets, from which hang banners covered with eyes. This allegory of Fama, a decidedly elegant figura serpentinata, is remarkable in several respects: it is one of only four signed paintings by Joos van Winghe (two are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna); it is an important testimony to the artist's journey to Italy; and it was obviously widely known north of the Alps, certainly largely as a result of the congenial engraving by Johann Sadeler (ill. 1).
The fact that Joos van Winghe's allegory of fame was well-known and considered an exemplary representation of the motif is shown, for example, in the French edition of Cesare Ripa's “Iconologia” (probably the most widely consulted pictorial source for artists at the time), published in 1643. There we find a stylised form of Joos van Winghe's “Fama” under "Renommée", the French term for fame (ill. 2). This entry is also interesting because it offers an explanation of the depiction's iconography. According to the Iconologie, Fama is winged, lightly clothed and floats on a cloud because she never stays in one place and moves with great speed spreading good and bad everywhere. Fame, but also rumour, as is still known today in the vernacular, is said to spread "in a flash". Traditionally, Fama was portrayed in a different manner, namely as a figure running swiftly over the earth, as Vergil describes her in the Aeneid. It was not until the 16th century that the hovering Fama appeared more frequently in Italy as well as in the Netherlands, with this figure always representing the good Fama (Fama bona) who proclaims glory. In designing his Fama, Joos van Winghe drew on models from Netherlandish graphic art, such as Hendrick Goltzius' "Fama and Historia" or Philippe Galle's representation of the allegory.
In 16th-century Italy, the spread of this figure was also linked to the new self-fashioning and self-confidence of artists, which was evident, for example, in self-portraits, (auto)biographies, artists' houses or the founding of academies. In his house in Arezzo, for example, Giorgio Vasari furnished a "Camera della Fama" with frescoes depicting personifications of the arts in which Fama sat enthroned on a globe in the centre (ill. 3). Vasari's biographies of the most eminent artists, the "Vite", for which he is still primarily known today, was accompanied by a woodcut depicting Fama hovering over the arts. "UBIQUE SEMPER" be her motto, Vasari wrote elsewhere, in his Zibaldone: "EVERYWHERE - ALWAYS". For Vasari, Fama, audible everywhere, proclaimed the eternal glory of the artist.
Joos van Winghe may have become acquainted with this new self-confidence among the artistic community during his stay in Italy. As Karel van Mander reported, he worked in Rome for Alessandro Farnese, nepote of Paul III; one of the most cultivated and powerful patrons in Rome, who consorted with scholars and artists (including Vasari). For Joos van Winghe, who always signed with the Latin version of his name – as he does in the present work – this was certainly an intellectually and artistically stimulating environment. When the artist returned to Brussels to work for Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Governor of the Southern Netherlands (who bore the same name as the Roman cardinal), he probably brought with him the new self-image of the artist as well as the new conception of Fama (for more on the artist's in Italy see Nicole Dacos, Voyage à Rome, Les artistes européens au XVIe siècle, Brussels 2012, passim).
For Joos van Winghe, artistic fame was a central theme in his work; as shown by two of his major works, which depict the tale of Apelles and Kampaspe from Pliny's “Naturalis Historia”, a quintessential story with regard to the special status of the artist (both works now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). In the first version for Rudolph II, he painted his friend and colleague, the imperial court painter Bartholomäus Spranger, as Apelles. In the second, more figurative version (ill. 4), he depicts himself as this most important painter of antiquity - with the image of Fama floating above him. This Allegory of Fame, closely related to the works in Vienna, is an expression of Joos van Winghe's self-confidence as an artist. With an artist as subtle as Joos van Winghe, it is probably no mere coincidence that he inscribed his signature directly onto the golden trumpet into which Fama blows: Thus, the Allegory of Fame forever announces the glory of its creator.


Collection of the art historian Alfred Schubert, acquired in 1927, thence his descendents. – Auction Van Ham, Cologne, 18.11.2005, lot 1659 (as attributed to Joos van Winghe). – DELI-collection, Monaco.


Alfred Schubert: Ein verschollenes Gemälde des Jodocus van Winghe entdeckt, in: Weltkunst, XIII (1964), p. 526.