Lucas van Leyden – the Last Judgment – it is all in the face
One of Lucas van Leyden’s most famous paintings is the altarpiece triptych of the apocalyptic Last Judgment, painted in 1526 – 1527 for the very well off merchant Claes van Swieten.
Its fame has everything to do with the fabulous scenes of Earth (middle), the unfortunate going to Hell on the right and to the left the chosen, going to Heaven, including the very naughty and proud smile on the face of the angel with his hand gently pushing the chosen man’s bottom.
It is amazing that the large painting has survived the Protestant Beeldenstorm (iconoclastic fury) of the year 1566.
oil paintings on canvas are available from Elite-Paintings and B-Arts.
The reproduction as presented by Elite-Paintings gives the impression that the skin colours and especially the green and yellow are closer to the original painting in Museum de Lakenhal – Leiden.
Addiction to gaming and Facebook is a parents nightmare and hard to control. Lucas van Leyden is said to have driven his folks crazy by continuously painting and drawing after nightfall, at the cost of his mother’s candles and his own studies of other disciplines.
“Lucas van Leijden, with pencil and etch in his hand, was born with the art of painting and sketching.” This is how Karel van Mander in his Book of Painters from 1604 describes Lucas van Leyden in his biography.
You could argue how many great artists could have been lost because of today’s technical obsessions, but the great painter and engraver Lucas, who was born in the city of Leiden in 1494, and lived there until his death in 1533, luckily followed his obsession of painting, earning his very first money selling a watercolour at the age of 12. His mother probably blamed his father Huygh Jacobsz, who seemed to have been his first tutor.
While his other tutor of basic techniques was Cornelis Engelbrechtsz, it is not known how he learned the engraving skills, but his famous print Mohammed and the Murdered Munk he produced in 1508 is seen as his earliest. Lucas was inspired by the then very known engraver Marcantonio Raimondi (who ran an engraving school with Raphael in Rome, is regarded as an important developer of print reproduction and who went to prison for creating and printing erotic scenes).
From the paintings by Lucas van Leyden we know 17 survived until today, another possible 27 paintings we know from a description or later copies.
Lucas painted all day life scenes, like the Card Players (of which there are three paintings and two versions of the same scene), the Fortune-Teller or the Game of Chess, where it is good fun to see the looks on the faces of players and public.
Reproductions of the Card Players painting are mostly of the painting that is in Washington, in the National Gallery of Art by an anonymous artist after Lucas van Leyden, a pity of course.
Reproductions of this painting with oil on canvas by B-arts and Elite-Paintings are pretty close to the original, although somewhat intense in colour (the robes) or too pale (see the beautiful blue tablecloth on the original).
The religious-paintings by Lucas van Leyden are of Saints, the Worship of the Golden Calf triptych (in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), the Virgin with Child and other biblical scenes, with marvelous facial expression.
In 1521 Lucas meets Albrecht Dürer in Antwerp, and apart from exchanging a large number of prints, Dürer draws Lucas van Leyden’s portrait on the spot. We don’t know if that happened the other way around also, but this meeting is marked as the start of the genre of portrait painting in the Northern Netherlands.
Of his self-portrait, you could say it is possible to read the emotions on the painters own face, half serious, partially cynical perhaps?
Other portraits are the oil painting of A Man aged 38 and engraved portraits and chalk drawings.
Lucas created numerous detailed and lively engravings of religious and non-religious scenes.
His most remarkable series of woodcuts named “The Power of Women” was created between 1513 and 1517. The Power of Women was a very popular theme at the time in visual art as well as literature and dealt with the supposed dominating power that women have over men in the many situations where the even the sturdiest men can’t resist women’s sexuality and demands.
The series consists of two sets of woodcuts, large and small in size.
Lucas died at the age of 39.
His work had an enormous influence on later artists, like on Rembrandt who collected all his prints.