Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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8. Portrait of Josquin.

Recently discovered documents reveal that the well-known woodcut of Josquin (fig.2) was almost certainly copied from a panel portrait in oil that once stood in the church of Ste Gudule, Brussels (see Haggh, 1994). Petrus Jacobi (d 1568), a canon of Ste Gudule, owned a portrait of Josquin that may have been painted while the composer was still alive. Jacobi directed in his will that this portrait should be included as one side panel of a triptych that would feature St Peter in the central panel and Jacobi himself on the opposite side; this altarpiece was to be placed near Jacobi’s tomb in Ste Gudule. The portrait was installed in 1569, the year after Jacobi’s death, but only a decade later Protestant iconoclasts destroyed the images in the church. In the Opus chronographicum, completed in 1569 but not published until 1611, Petrus Opmeer singled out the portrait of Josquin in Ste Gudule on which he based his woodcut of the composer, and approvingly referred to Josquin’s ‘truly virtuous face and attractive eyes’.

The masterly ‘Portrait of a Musician’ in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and painted around 1485, has been thought to depict Gaffurius, but Clercx-Lejeune (1972) attempted to identify Josquin as the sitter. The man in the picture seems to be in his 20s and is wearing secular costume, though both musicians were clerics in their 30s at the time. Clercx-Lejeune also discussed evidence that Josquin’s likeness appears in Jean Perréal’s fresco of the Liberal Arts in Le Puy Cathedral in Auvergne, but this has not generally been accepted by scholars.

Josquin des Prez

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