The Renaissance Comes to Cologne
The last gallery on this floor is dedicated to Bartholomäus Bruyn the elder. From 1533 onward he lived in that magnificent double house where Stefan Lochner (see Galleries 5 and 6) had once lived and painted. Later he handed it on to his son Bartholomäus Bruyn the younger. More than a few of the paintings hanging in this room were painted just a stone’s throw away.
As a specialist in portraiture, Bartholomäus Bruyn was a typical Renaissance artist. This epoch, which followed on from the Middle Ages, was characterized by a new spirit of self-confidence and the revival of antique (Roman and Greek) thought. Bruyn’s paintings reflect these ideals, in, for instance, his exact study and rendering of human anatomy. His prodigious Scourged Christ is inconceivable without the inspiration of the works of the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo. Which brings us back full circle to the first Gallery with the (notably older) Italian paintings. Unlike his Netherlandish contemporary Maerten van Heemskerck, who is represented here by an imposing “Entombment of Christ”, Bruyn never travelled to Rome. He had only an indirect knowledge of antique and modern Italian art, which was largely gained from copper engravings.
But even more than from Italy, Bruyn, who came from the Lower Rhine, drew inspiration from the Netherlands. Which is why his portraits are accompanied here by a number of works from the neighbouring lands. Bruyn was close friends with the Antwerp painter Joos van Cleve. His triptych with the “Death of the Virgin” was created for a private chapel in Cologne. Compare the donor portraits on the inside of the wings with the individual portraits by Bruyn and you will notice a very similar approach to the human countenance, with striking eyes that stand out from the pale skin of the face.