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Jan Swart van Groningen

Christ in a Landscape


Jan Swart van Groningen
Groningen (?) before 1500 – Antwerp (?) about 1560


Christ in a Landscape


About 1530-1540


Oil on wood


118.8 x 93.5 cm


Purchase, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Volunteer Association Fund, inv. 1996.15


Western Art

Dedicated in honour of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Desmarais in November 1996, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion

Established in Antwerp, Swart primarily produced illustrational woodcuts for local publishing, notably the religious tracts of Martin Luther. His style, influenced by his travel to Italy and residence in Venice, testifies to Dürer’s influence. Swart also travelled for commissions of stained glass cartoons. His paintings are quite rare. The direct influence of Central and Northern Italian painting, both in the classical details of architecture in idealized figure types and poses, is appreciable. His exposure to artists influenced by Leonardo and Michelangelo, as seen here, is evident in the figure’s elegant proportions and contrapposto posture, as well as muscular hands and arms. While the foreground recalls the explorations of Leonardo into nature, the greater landscape distinguishes itself sharply in its Northern sensibilities, typical of the school of Antwerp. The figure’s direct gaze out to us also conforms to Lutheran stress on the direct relationship between God and man. The presentation of the Christ figure therefore reflects the Lutheran emphasis on Christ as teacher and moral instructor and de-emphasis upon his transcendent nature and the mysteries of the Church. Thus, the figure is placed within the contemporary world.

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