Ashtead Art Lovers Monthly Talks

31st January 2020: Pieter Coeke van Aelst (1502-1550)

11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007. Numbers limited.

Tel: 01372 272235 to book, or email.

January’s talk will be on the life and works of Antwerp Mannerist, Pieter Coeke van Aelst, painter, designer of tapestries, pieces to be made up by goldsmiths, stained glass, architect, wood cut engravings and writer. In other words, a master of many disciplines.

Pieter Coeke van Aelst. Engraving by Johannes Wierix (?). Rijkmuseum.
From ‘Pictorum Aliquot Celebrium Praecipuae Germaniae Inferioris Effigies’
published by Volcxken Dierix in Antwerp in 1572

Son of the deputy mayor of Aalst situated in Eastern Flanders, Pieter Coeke van Aelst was trained either by Bernard van Orley (c1481/94 – 1541) in Brussels, or by his father-in-law Jan Mertens van Dornicke. Pieter became a member of the Antwerp Gild of St Luke in 1527 which is the same year he married Anna van Dornicke. He took over his father-in-law’s workshop on the latter’s death, also in 1527. Widowed sometime in the 1530s, Coeke van Aelst married a second time c1538-39. This time it was to a fellow artist, Mayken Verhulst (1519-1599), a painter of miniatures. They had two daughters and a son and their daughter Maria married Pieter Breughel the Elder. Karel van Mander tells us that Mayken probably trained her grandsons, Pieter Breughel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

In addition to receiving commissions from the Antwerp authorities, Pieter went on to become dean of the Guild of St Luke, in Antwerp. He designed tapestries for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Grand Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany (head of the Medici family),and Henry VIII as well as paintings, sculpture and stained glass commissioned by the Emperor and eventually was appointed court painter to the imperial court.

Coeke van Aelst’s gift for languages is seen in his various translations of architectural treatises into his native Dutch.

Pieter Coeke van Aelst is an interesting Flemish artist because he is such a multi-talented individual. The featured image is the Burning of Books at Ephesus from a series of tapestries showing the life of St Paul. It is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Before this talk on 31st January, 2020 I am giving a study day in Pinner to the Pinner Adult Eduction Society on 7th December, 2019 (details on the blog page) and in January I will be holding a study day on “How the The Impressionists documented the Industrial Revolution” (details to follow) here in Ashtead.

In the meantime, best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2020 to everyone.

Telephone 01372 272235 or email to book.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007.