Cornelis Floris, "Epitaph for Dorothea of Denmark", 1504-1547.

How and why did the court artist Jacob Binck become an art agent? How did the network of Binck affect the dissemination of the Netherlandish all’ antica style?

Cynthia Osiecki’s PhD-project aims to demonstrate how and in which ways the art agent Jacob Binck (Cologne c. 1500- Königsberg 1568/69) influenced the process of cultural transfer of Netherlandish art to the Danish, Swedish and Prussian courts. Binck’s mediation role between Albert, the Duke of Prussia and the Antwerp artist Cornelis Floris (Antwerp, 1514-1575) when the duke commissioned the epitaph for his wife Dorothea of Denmark initiated a quest for a style that would dictate the arts in the Baltic Sea Region for the next seven decades. This so-called all’antica style is based on Antwerp artists’ contemporary interpretation of ornaments from classical antiquity that had been unearthed around 1500 in Italy, for example from Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome. In Italy itself, artists such as Raphael was also inspired by these ornaments.

While commemorative monuments for royals and nobility were large, site-specific structures and therefore had naturally a limited audience, printed books and print designs meant the style would spread more easily and rapidly. The sculptor Cornelis Floris is one of the artists that invented all’antica printed designs in the 1540s, but the agent Jacob Binck also played an important role in the earlier days of the publishing of these ornaments. A prominent example is the decorated ornamental scheme that Binck made for the opening pages for the first Danish bible in 1550. These engraved works were present both in the libraries of rulers and in the workshops of artists.

Because of the initial commission mediated by Jacob Binck a demand for this type of art arose among other rulers, court nobility and the civic elite. Subsequently, artists from the Low Countries started to set up workshops in the Baltic Sea Region from the 1560s onwards, as this demand supplied them with a steady income.

This dissertation aims to answer the questions:

  • How and why did the court artist Jacob Binck become an art agent for the courts of Denmark, Prussia and Sweden.
  • How did the networks of Binck and his patrons affect the dissemination of the Netherlandish all’ antica style throughout the Baltic Sea Region after 1549?

Jacob Binck is not a well-known artist. His career was pushed to the margins of art history as he was seen merely as an agent of two works by Cornelis Floris and as a printmaker who copied works of others. However, during his career he operated in a large geographical area across historical and cultural borders, and he had direct influence on courtly art commissions. This dissertation will show that Bink’s efforts meant that the tastes at the Northern courts were not very different from those at the Habsburg or Italian ones.