Johan Gregor van der Schardt, ca. 1573
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

When I started out as curator at the Bonnefanten Museum in 2006, I had never heard of Johan Gregor van der Schardt. That was soon to change. A year later, the artist was represented at the exhibition entitled From Vulcan’s Forge, hosted by the Bonnefanten Museum. Van der Schardt’s self-portrait is a synthesis of his artistry. It represents a new genre, but is formally part of an older tradition of portrait busts. With its lifelike painting, it is a witty response to painters who argued for the superiority of painting to sculpture in the Paragone debate. The work met the demand of influential collectors, who wanted not only work by one specific artist, but preferably work depicting the artist himself. This contemporary artist in turn portrayed himself all’antica, placing himself in an age-old tradition. Van der Schardt was born in Nijmegen but we do not know where he was trained. No works by him are known from his birthplace. He probably fled abroad as a young man, since the Netherlands was racked by social tensions and economic malaise. He first worked in Italy and produced his best work in Nuremberg. He was always known as a Dutchman, however. His presence in the Rijksmuseum illustrates the international adaptability of artists – especially sculptors – in the sixteenth century.

Lars Hendrikman, Curator of Old Master Painting, Sculpture and Applied Arts, Bonnefanten, Maastricht

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Frits Scholten on the Self-Portrait by Van der Schardt

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Book by Frits Scholten (from the Rijksmuseum series ‘Works of art in close-up’)

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