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Geldorp Gortzius (1553-b.1618): the life and works of a Flemisch painter in Cologne

This PhD project aims to be a thorough research on the Flemish painter Geldorp Gortzius (1553-c.1618). Up to now his name has primarily been associated with the city of Cologne where he, according to his first biography by Karel van Mander, emigrated at the age of 26 after his apprenticeship in Antwerp. He stayed there for a span of some 40 years and received commissions from mayors, councilors and many other elites. His reputation as a much-praised portraitist brought him twice to the position of the city councillor, which means that he was one of the most influential members of the local painter's guild.

But in the course of my research it has become clear that he most likely maintained a close relationship with the Netherlands even long after he left there for Cologne. It is supported by various archival resources that he himself was a Catholic, yet he had kept close contact with the community of the protestant immigrants from the Netherlands. Besides the local elites of Cologne, Netherlandish merchants comprised the majority of his client. Moreover, it is highly possible that he had his family member in Antwerp and occasionally visited the city. Turning to his oeuvre, he was not merely the executor of cookie-cutter portraits of wealthy citizens. His history pieces demonstrate that he had an extensive knowledge of works by 16th-century Antwerp and Venetian masters and inspiration.


The result of the research is integrated in the thesis "Geldorp Gortzius (1553-v.1618): the life and work of a South-Dutch painter in Cologne" (working title). It consists of two parts; a monograph on his oeuvre and life course (Part 1) and a catalog raisonné (Part 2). The former starts with the survey on the preceding researches (Ch. 1) and reconstruction of his life based on biographical data (Ch.2) in which his family relationship is reconstructed by various archive sources. A complete overview of his artistic career before and after migration comes next (Ch.3) involving stylistic and iconographic analyzes of his oeuvre (Ch.4). In the second part, catalog raisonné, a total of 114 * authentic works by the painter are included. They are divided into three categories: portraits (A1-A83), works with historical, mythological and allegorical subjects (A84-A111) and tronies and studies (A112-A114). There will be three more groups, namely assigned works (B-number), documented but non-discoverable works (C-number) and rejected works (D-number).

Date:1 Oct 2008  →  1 Oct 2012
Keywords:portret, Keulen
Disciplines:Art studies and sciences
Project type:PhD project