Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Creative Commons CC0

Brothel Scene

Jan van Hemessen, ca. 1540
Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe

The almost life size figures are engaging with the viewer. The suiter extends his hand towards us, warning or surprised? Prostitution, drinking and gambling are confronting the interrupting viewer in an intriguing way. His act of lurking makes him part of the scene.

This large brothel scene is one of the most important Flemish genre paintings from the first half of the sixteenth century. In this period, independent tavern or brothel scenes were an innovative genre that would pave the way for famous seventeenth-century examples. Jan Sanders van Hemessen was one of the most prominent painters in Antwerp between 1530 and 1550.

Matthias Ubl, Curator early Netherlandish and German paintings, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


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