Boxwood panel depicting The Holy Family with Saint John by Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck

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Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck
C. 1645-1664
15.8 cm
12.2 cm

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.
M. Eisma, In beeld gebracht. Beeldhouwkunst uit de collectie van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Zwolle, 1995, pp. 209-210, nr. 139, fig. XI.
M. Eisma, 'Albert Jansz Vinckenbrinck, ontwerper en beeldsnijder', Maandblad Amstelodamum 83, 1996, pp. 33-43.
D. Franken, ‘Albert Jansz Vinckenbrinck’, Oud-Holland, V, 1887, pp. 72-92.
W. Halsema-Kubes, ‘Kleinplastiek van Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, XXXIX, 4, 1991, pp. 414-425.
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, p. 196, 197.


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This exceptionally carved palmwood plaque depicts the Holy Family. Under the finely carved tree sits Mary, with the Christ child on her lap. Next to her is Joseph. On the left, John the Baptist is feeding a lying lamb. In the background are the outlines of a city, with a man riding on horseback from the city gate. The veiled Virgin Mary gives a fruit to Jesus, who bends to the left and holds on to the stick that John is also holding.
Despite the absence of the often very minuscule hidden monogram, this carving of the Holy Family is definitely the work of Vinckenbrinck. The material, the carving method and the similarities in details between this plaque and the monogrammed plaques in, for example, the Rijksmuseum, confirm this attribution. Especially the balding head of Joseph shows strong similarities with Job on the dunghill in the Rijksmuseum, as well as the way in which the tree and the ground, full of details, have been carved.
This plaque shows the refined work of Vinckenbrinck, who like no other was able to apply detail and expression to the hard palm wood. In the seventeenth century, plaques like this one were framed or incorporated into, for example, the panels of an art cabinet: the underside of the plaque shows a groove, around which a frame fitted. When it was part of a cabinet with other panels, not all of them were given a monogram. The old labels on the back of the panel and the inscription suggest that it has been hidden for years if not centuries in an English collection. Not only are there English texts on the labels for the title, but also the name Crawford makes it necessary to look for its former origin. Unfortunately, despite research, no conclusive answer has yet been found.

Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck was baptized on April 3th, 1605 in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. Years later he would manufacture the exceptionally beautiful and exuberant 13-meter high hexagonal pulpit and immense sounding board with a Gothic tower, where his knowledge and skill of woodcarving, and in particular of perspective depth effects, were fully expressed. Jan Albertsz. Vinckenbrinck, Albert's father, came from Esens, East Frisian, and settled in Amsterdam as a box maker. Albert Jansz. followed in the footsteps of his father, and shared a workshop with him for quite some time. In 1629 Albert Jansz. Vinckenbrinck bought the furniture and tools of the deceased sculptor Cornelis van den Bloocke at an auction and he appealed to "beeltsnyder". He evolved into a particularly virtuoso woodcarver, specialized in cutting palm wood and became a well-known name in the Dutch Renaissance. The small oeuvre of works of art that has survived time is of great quality and eloquence. In addition to large works for architectural use, such as the pulpit in the Nieuwe Kerk and various decorative domestic elements such as fireplaces, gates, doors and mouldings, Vinckenbrinck also produced small wood carvings. A few carved portraits, plaques, sculptures and memento mori skulls are known from him. A frequently recurring personal theme in his work is the life and suffering of the biblical figure Job. After 130 years of research, about fifteen signed works by Vinckenbrinck in palm wood are now known. Several of these works are mentioned in the inventory drawn up at the time of Vinckenbrinck's death, and could therefore have been carved for personal use or as an example for clients.

Vinckenbrinck depicted the subject of the Holy Family several times. Just like the theme of Job on the dunghill, of which there are also several variants, the composition is always more or less the same: a person or a group of persons sitting under a tree. This composition of the Holy Family is possibly the same as the Rest on the Flight into Egypt that is included in the estate inventory after Vinckenbrinck's death in 1665.


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