(Bruges), active by 1444–died 1475/76
Oil on wood;
39 3/8 x 34 3/4 in. (100.1 x 85.8 cm); Painted Surface: 38 5/8 x 33 1/2
in. (98 x 85.2 cm)
celebrated as one
of the most famous masterpieces of northern Renaissance art, this work
shows a goldsmith in a tiny shop outfitted with the finely wrought
secular, and ecclesiastic wares of his trade displayed on the shelves
the right. Commissioned by the goldsmith's guild of Bruges, the
is a virtual advertisement of the services the guild provided.
figure may be
Saint Eligius, patron saint of goldsmiths, as traditionally believed,
a realistic depiction—perhaps even a portrait—of an actual goldsmith in
fifteenth-century Bruges. Standing in the goldsmith's shop is an
young couple in sumptuous garb buying a wedding ring that is being
on a small hand-held scale. An elaborately displayed sash or girdle
in betrothal ceremonies, a further reference to matrimony, extends over
the open ledge of the shop into the space of the viewer.
mirror at the
right, which reflects the market square beyond the counter, is an even
bolder illusionistic device linking the pictorial space to that of the
viewer. Seen in the mirror are two dandified male figures, one of whom
holds a falcon. Their idleness contrasts markedly to the
of the goldsmith in his tidy, well-stocked shop and is perhaps an
to sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.
A. Merli, Bremen, Germany; his sale, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 11
1815, lot 144; [Silberberg]; Gerhard Seibel, Elberfeld (lent by him to
the Central-Museum zu Düsseldorf; Salomon Oppenheim the younger
1912), Cologne, Germany, by 1825; by descent to his grandson, Albert,
von Oppenheim (d. 1912), Cologne, Germany; his sale, Rudolf Lepke,
Germany, 19 March 1918, lot 6; Busch, Mainz; [Y. Perdoux, Paris,
acquired by Philip Lehman from Perdoux in 1920.
paint at bottom]: m petr xpi me..fecit. a 1449.