Overview

Michel Sittow, a northern painter who was born in Estonia on the Baltic Sea but apprenticed in Bruges, was an acclaimed portraitist at the Spanish court. After Queen Isabella's death in 1504, his peripatetic career took him to several northern European centers, including Burgundy, where he probably painted this portrait.

The sitter gazes with serious mien, not at the viewer, but at an unseen point beyond the picture's frame. The ornate carpet covering the stone parapet on which his hand rests provided scholars with an important clue that led to the discovery of the object of his concentration -- a painting of the Madonna and Child, of similar dimensions, in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. In that panel a larger portion of the parapet, covered by the same carpet, appears as a support for the Christ Child. It seems certain that the Berlin and Washington panels were originally hinged together to form a devotional diptych.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that the National Gallery's portrait represents Diego de Guevara, a nobleman whose family came from Santander in northern Spain. For forty years Don Diego was a valued member of the Habsburg court in Burgundy. Supporting this identity is the embroidered cross of the Spanish Order of Calatrava on his golden doublet; after serving in numerous positions of trust in the households of Philip the Fair and Charles V, Don Diego was appointed to the wardenship of that order.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Probably Don Diego de Guevara [d.1520], Brussels; probably heirs of Don Diego de Guevara.[1] Probably Mencía de Mendoza, Marchioness of Zenete [d. 1554], third wife of Hendrik III of Nassau and subsequently wife of Fernando de Aragon, Duke of Calabria and viceroy of Valencia, castle of Ayora, province of Valencia.[2] Infante Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza [d. 1875], Pau; heirs of Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza, Pau, 1876.[3] Mme. Maurer, Madrid, by 1915.[4] (Leo Blumenreich, Berlin).[5] (P. & D. Colnaghi, Ltd., London, 1929). (M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York, 1929-1930);[6] purchased March 1930 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1930
A Loan Exhibition of Sixteen Masterpieces, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1930, no. 14.
1991
Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1991-1992, no. 47, repro.
1992
Hispania-Austria: Die Katholischen Könige - Maximilian I und di Anfange der Casa de Austria in Spanien, Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck (part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), July-September 1992, no. 191, repro.
1992
Reyes Y Mecenas: Los Reyes Católicos - Maximiliano I y los Inicios de la Casa de Austria en España, Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain, March-May 1992, no. 87, repro.
2006
Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, 2006-2007, no. 34, repro.

Bibliography

1907
Winkler, Friedrich. "Zittoz, Miguel." In Thieme-Becker. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 36(1947):531-533.
1913
Mayer, August L. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922: 147.
1915
Friedländer, Max J. "Ein neu erworbenes Madonnenbild im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum." Amtliche Berichte aus den königlichen Kunstsammlungen 36 (1915): 179-181.
1926
Falck, G. "Mester Michiel og Kunstmuseets Portraet of Christiern II." Kunstmuseets Åarsskrift 13-15 (1926/1928): 129-133, repro.
1929
Friedländer, Max J. "Neues über den Meister Michiel und Juan de Flandes." Der Cicerone 21 (1929): 249, 254, fig. 253.
1929
Siple, E. S. "Art in America-Messrs. Knoedler's Exhibition." The Burlington Magazine 55 (1929): repro. opp. 326.
1930
"Old Masters in New York Galleries." Parnassus 2 (January 1930): 4.
1930
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier. "El retablo de la Reina Católica." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 6 (1930): 117.
1930
Wilenski, R. H. "A Recent Loan Exhibition in New York (at Messrs. Knoedler's Galleries)." Apollo 11 (1930): repro. opp. 32.
1931
Sánchez, Cantón, Francisco Javier. "El retablo de la Reina Católica (Addenda et corrigenda)." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 7 (1931): 151-152, pl. 4.
1931
Winkler, Friedrich. "Master Michiel." Art in America 19 (1931): 248, 252, fig. 5.
1933
Glück, Gustav. "The Henry VII in the National Portrait Gallery." The Burlington Magazine 63 (1933): 105, 107.
1933
Post, Chandler Rathfon. A History of Spanish Painting. 14 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930-1966: 4, pt. 1:34-35.
1935
Baldass, Ludwig. "The Portraiture of Master Michiel." The Burlington Magazine 67 (1935): 77-82, pl. IB.
1939
Richardson, E. P. "Three Paintings by Master Michiel." The Art Quarterly 2 (1939): 108, fig. 9.
1940
Contreras, Juan de. Historia del arte hispánica. Barcelona, 1940: 282, fig. 279.
1940
Johansen, Paul. "Meister Michel Sittow, Hofmaler der Königin Isabella von Kastilien und Bürger von Reval." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 61 (1940): 1, 16-18, fig. 5.
1941
De Tolnay, Charles. "Flemish Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." Magazine of Art 34 (1941): 187, 189, 200, fig. 19.
1941
Held, Julius S. "Masters of Northern Europe, 1430-1660, in the National Gallery." Art News 40, no. 8 (June 1941): 12, 15, repro.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 185-186, no. 46, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
1942
Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 240, repro. 40, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
1943
Winkler, Friedrich. "Neuentdeckte Altniederländer III: Michiel Sittow." Pantheon 31 (1943): 99, fig. 4.
1945
Benesch, Otto. The Art of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1945: 75, fig. 42.
1948
Weinberger, Martin. "Notes on Maître Michiel." The Burlington Magazine 90 (1948): 248.
1949
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 59, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
1952
Haverkamp-Begemann, Egbert. "Juan de Flandes y los reyes católicos." Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueologia 25 (1952): 241.
1953
Kehrer, Hugo. Deutschland in Spanien: Beziehung, Einfluss, und Abhängigkeit. Munich, 1953: 138, fig. 69.
1958
Gaya Nuño, Juan Anotonio. La pintura española fuera de España: historia y catàlogo. Madrid, 1958: 305, no. 2665.
1958
Margareta van Oostenrijk en haar hof. Exh. cat. Mechelen, 1958: 10, under no. 85.
1958
Richardson, E. P. "Portrait of a Man in a Red Hat by Master Michiel." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 38 (1958/1959): 80.
1962
Puyvelde, Leo van. La peinture flamande au siècle de Bosch et Breughel. Paris, 1962: 355-356, pl. 41.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 304, repro.
1965
Eisler, Colin T. "The Sittow Assumption." Art News 64 (September, 1965): 52-53, fig. 8.
1965
Pauwells, H., H. R. Hoetink, and S. Herzog. Jan Gossaert genaamd Mabuse. Exh. cat. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 1965: 69, under no. 5.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 123, as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
1966
Gudlaugsson, S. J. "Sittow (Zittoz)." In Kindlers Malerei Lexikon, edited by Germain Bazin, et al. 6 vols. Zurich, 1964-1971. Zürich, 1966: 5:363.
1967
Steppe, J. K. "Jheronimus Bosch. Bijdrage tot de histor. en de ikonograf. studie van zijn werk." In Jher. Bosch. Bijdragen bij gelegenheid van de herdenkstentoonstelling te 's-Hertogensbosch. Eindhoven, 1967: 14, 39.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 110, no. 46, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
1969
Osten, Gert von der, and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Harmondsworth, 1969: 142, fig. 137.
1971
Sass, Else Kai. "A Portrait of King Christian II as a Young Prince." The Antiquaries Journal 51, part 2 (1971): 294-295.
1973
Gilbert, Creighton. History of Renaissance Art, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Throughout Europe. New York, 1973: 366, fig. 457.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 328, repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava.
1976
Lurie, Ann Tzeutschler. "The Birth and Naming of St. John the Baptist Attributed to Juan de Flandes. A Newly Discovered Panel from a Hypothetical Altarpiece." Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 63 (1976): 131.
1976
Sass, Else Kai. "Autour de quelques portraits de Charles Quint." Oud Holland 90 (1976): 12.
1976
Trizna, Jazeps. Primitifs flamands. Contributions. Michel Sittow, peintre revalais de l'école brugeoise (1468-1525/26). Brussels, 1976: 53-54, 61, 96-97, cat. no. 18, 105, pl. XV.
1977
Campbell, Lorne. Review of Michel Sittow, peintre revalais de l’école brugeoise (1468-1525/1526) by Jazeps Trizna. Apollo 105 (1977): 225.
1978
Bruyn, Josua. Review of Michel Sittow: peintre revalais de l'école brugeoise 1468-1525/26 by Jazeps Trizna. Oud Holland 92 no. 3 (1978): 214.
1978
Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Gemäldegalerie. Catalogue of Paintings: 13th-18th Century. 2nd revised ed. Berlin-Dahlem, 1978: 414, under no. 1722.
1979
Westrum, Geerd. Altdeutsche Malerei. Munich, 1979: 50.
1982
Steppe, J. K. "Het overbrengen van het hart van Filips de Schone van Burgos naar de Nederlanden in 1506-1507." Biekorf. Westvlaams Archief 82 (1982): 218, repro. 212.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 125, no. 112, color repro., as A Knight of the Order of Calatrava by Miguel Sithium.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 376, repro.
1985
Haverkamp-Begemann, Egbert. "Paintings by Michiel Sittow Reconsidered." In Rubens and his World. Bijdragen opgedragen aan Prof. Dr. Ir. R.-A. d'Hulst. Antwerp, 1985: 4-5, 8, fig. 4.
1986
Hand, John Oliver and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1986: 228-236, color repro. 229.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 78, repro.
1997
Vibert-Guigue, Françoise, ed. La Renaissance en Espagne et au Portugal. L'Histoire de l'art de Larousse series. Paris, 1997: 12-13, color repro.
2001
Horgan, Marta. "The Golden Age of Spanish Art." Washington Parent (April 2001): 14.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 54-55, no. 38, color repro.
2006
Cotter, Holland. "Divine and Devotee Meet Across Hinges." Exhibition review. New York Times (December 15, 2006): 41, 44, repro.
2009
Frinta, Mojmír S. "Observation on Michel Sittow." Artibus et historiae 30, no. 60 (2009): color fig. 2.
2011
Weniger, Matthias. Sittow, Morros, Juan de Flandes: Drei Maler aus dem Norden am Hof Isabellas der Katholischen. Kiel, 2011: 11, 55, 57, 59, 84-90, 273, 274, 278, no. 9, fig. 22, 23, 42, color fig. 3, color plates 1b, 2d, 6b.

Technical Summary

The x-radiograph also shows an important artist's change in the costume. The top of the brocade doublet was originally lower, as was the neckline of the white shirt. The shirt filled a wider square opening now partially covered by the fur collar. Since the cross of the Order of Calatrava is apparently painted over the brocade and its edges do not overlap the present placement of the fur collar, it must have been added in the course of work on the painting.

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