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Netherlandish, active 1505/1508 - 1540/1541
Master of the Death of the Virgin; Joos van der Beke; Cleef, Joos van
The exact date and place of birth of Joos van Cleve (alias Joos van der Beke) are unknown, though, as his name implies, he most likely came from the region around the Lower Rhenish city of Kleve. He was probably born around 1485, as it is assumed that he entered the workshop of Jan Joest about 1505 and assisted in painting the panels of the high altar for the Nikolaikirche in the Lower Rhenish city of Kalkar.
Joos van Cleve emigrated to Antwerp, perhaps by way of Bruges, and in 1511 he was accepted as a freemaster in the guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp. In 1519, 1520, and 1525 he was co-deacon of the guild and is listed as presenting pupils in 1516, 1523, 1535, and 1536. Joos van Cleve's skill as a portraitist caused him to be summoned to the court of Francis I of France where he depicted the king and queen and other members of the court. Joos is not documented in Antwerp between 1529 and 1534, and it is quite possible that his journey included Italy as well as France.
From his first marriage there were two children, a daughter and a son, Cornelis, born in 1520, who became a painter. On 10 November 1540 Joos van Cleve made his will and testament. The exact date of his death is not known, but on 13 April 1541 his second wife is listed as a widow.
[Hand, John Oliver, and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1986: 56.]