An exceptional boxwood sculpture of Job on the Dung Heap by Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck

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Maker
Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck
Origin
Amsterdam
Period
Ca. 1645-1664
Material
Boxwood
Signature
·AL·VB·, AL in ligature, VB in ligature on a boulder near the left foot
Dimensions
28.5 x 14.5 x 13 cm
Literature

D. Franken, ‘Albert Jansz Vinckenbrinck’, Oud-Holland, V, (1887), pp. 72-92
Th. Lunsingh Scheurleer, ‘Nieuws over den Amsterdamschen beeldhouwer Albert Vinckenbrinck’, Oudheidkundig Jaarboek. Bulletin van den Nederlandschen Oudheidkundigen Bond 13 (1946), pp. 29-33
‘Sculpture and works of art’, J. Paul Getty Museum Journal volume 18 (1990), pp. 196, 197.
W. Halsema-Kubes, ‘Kleinplastiek van Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, XXXIX, 4, (1991), pp. 414-425
M. Eisma, In beeld gebracht. Beeldhouwkunst uit de collectie van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Zwolle, 1995, pp. 209-210, nr. 139, pic. XI
M. Eisma, 'Albert Jansz Vinckenbrinck, ontwerper en beeldsnijder', Maandblad Amstelodamum 83 (1996), pp. 33-43
M.J. Bok, 'De Utrechtse verwanten van de beeldsnijder Albert Janszn Vinckenbrinck', Maandblad Amstelodamum 83 (1996), pp. 167-172
J.A.C. Dudok van Heel, 'De werkplaatsen van de beeldsnijder Albert Janszn Vinckenbrinck', Maandblad Amstelodamum 83 (1996), pp. 173-177
Catalogue Kunst & Antiekbeurs ’s Hertogenbosch 2002, p. 53
Jan Beekhuizen, Pewter Ware 44
Collectie Van der Vorm, 2019, p. 53.

Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck (Amsterdam 1605 - 1664)

We have recently released a beautiful publication with the oeuvre of Vinckenbrinck. To order a copy, please make an inquiry.

Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck (1605-1664) is the most important Dutch carver of sculptures of the seventeenth century. Apart from his monumental works such as the pulpit in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, he also manufactured small sculptural works, predominantly in palmwood. Knowledge about his life and activities have been collected in the last 130 years.

When Daniël Franken wrote a still relevant article about Vinckenbrinck in the fifth volume of the magazine Oud Holland in 1887, he only knew one work: the pulpit in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. Nonetheless, his article formed the basis of further attributions to this sculptor.

In his article Franken published the inventory that was drawn up in 1665 upon Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck’s death. From this inventory and the 18th-century auction catalogues enclosing descriptions of the work by Vinckenbrinck may be concluded that he mostly made small sculptures. In the course of 130 years many of these sculptures have surfaced. Several of those are signed with the .AL.VB. monogram with a joined A and L as well as a joined V and B. Willy Halsema Kubes published a list of 14 small sculptures made by Vinckenbrinck in the Bulletin of the Rijksmuseum in 1991. With the exception of one sculpture, these are all signed with the monogram ALVB.

Subsequently more research on the life, apprenticeship and the place of birth of Vinckenbrinck has been published in the monthly magazine Amstelodamum. Because of the fact that the exact years of his life have been unknown for a long time, his date and place of birth are still unclear. The most recent publication on Vinckenbrinck is rarely consulted and much information from old lexicons is repeated. Therefore, the fact that Vinckenbrinck was baptized on 3 April 1605 in the Nieuwe Kerk is hardly published. At the time his father lived on the Zeedijk and was a coffin maker by profession.

Albert Jansz. married Geertruit Diercks from Utrecht in 1626. From the fact that he married a woman from Utrecht may be deduced that he spent his apprenticeship, or parts of it, in that city. However, in his research on the various workshops of Vinckenbrinck, Bas Dudok van Heel concluded that Vinckenbrinck probably shared a workshop with his father, before becoming a near neighbor of the Amsterdam mayor Joan Huydecoper. Dudok van Heel aptly concluded that Vinckenbrinck probably made doors, door-frames and other architectural elements and that he created the small sculptures for his own pleasure, mostly because most of those small sculptures were in his own possession upon his death.

The book of Job is one of the books of wisdom and describes the suffering of men. Job is deployed in the conflict between God and Satan. Satan challenges God by stating that the wealthy Job will not keep his faith when his riches are taken away from him. Job endures adversaries and loses everything. He becomes a physical wreck without any clothes, but he keeps his faith. His misery, patience and perseverance became proverbial. In the NewTestament Job’s perseverance is already praised in Jacob 5:11. According to the Biblical story, when Job has lost all his possessions and is covered in sores, possibly leprosy, he sat down in the ashes. From this the proverb ‘to wear sackcloth and ashes’ is possibly derived. There are various Biblical passages in which mourning and desperate people cover their heads in ashes and dress in just a sack, a dark and rough cloth that only has arm-holes. In the Dutch language, the heap of ashes became the heap of dung. In the Bible, the heap of ash was located outside the village where ash, garbage and dung was collected. Here, the lepers stayed as well.Good and evilJob is severely challenged and his friends try to convince him to admit that happiness and wealth are a godly reward and that suffering is a godly punishment. If Job would admit his sin, he would become happy again. Job’s wife tries to persuade him as well. Job keeps denying that his suffering is caused by sinful behaviour. Job believes that God gives him the good as well as the evil and that it is his plight to endure this. Eventually God declares him to be right. Vinckenbrinck and JobThe four currently known representations ofJob on the Dung Heap show how Job, seated without any clothes on a Dung Heap, looks up to the heavens in despair. The plaque in the Amsterdam Museum shows Job’s wife who is trying to convince him to give up his faith inGod. Why was this subject of such importance to Vinckenbrinck that he used it at least four times and that he kept one of them until his death? In 17th-century Netherlandish art Job was not a popular Biblical subject, so although we may assume that the subject was requested –at least four of them were carved – it was not in fashion. Presumably it is connected to the Zwinglian Calvinism. Church father Augustinus was of great importance to Zwingli. Through his explanation of the gospels according to John, Zwingli became acquainted with God’s mercy. This was not the merit of the creature, but the mercy of God, undeserved, without obligation. In his sermons he emphasised that only Christ is the Saviour, and not the saints, not the good works, not mass and especially not the indulgences.The representation of Job fits this idea and was possibly a manner of Zwingli’s followers to show that they were of the same inclination. Zwingli did not tolerate imagery and music in churches. Christ was allowed for private devotion, but saints were forbidden. Job the righteous was not a saint in Protestantism, and was therefore allowed to be depicted. Vinckenbrinck’s following of Zwingli could explain his love for the subject of Job on the Dung Heap. Within Vinckenbrinck’s oeuvre, plaques are the most common. Three-dimensional sculptures such as this Job on the Dung Heap are very rare. The only other known sculpture by Vinckenbrinck is that of Adam and Eve in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg(ill. p. 41). This slightly smaller sculpture of two figures is carved with the same eye for detail. Adam’s hand is carved separately, just as the hand of this Job and the figures that are carved in the pulpit. These sculptures were carved from a small log of boxwood or oak. Carving the extremities, such as the hands, was difficult as due to the grain these are in the end grain. This makes the fingers very fragile. Therefore, Vinckenbrinck carved the hand separately from a piece of long grain wood and attached it to the arm with a pen.

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