At this lecture, Judith Noorman will present and introduce her new book about the life and career of the Dutch artist Jacob van Loo (1614-1670).
For many years, the life and success of Van Loo — a painter of nudes with a conviction for manslaughter — was a metaphorical knot that could, as demonstrated in Noorman's book, only be untangled in an interdisciplinary context. Focusing on the interrelationships between Jacob van Loo’s art, honor, and career, Noorman argues that Van Loo’s lifelong success and unblemished reputation were by no means incompatible, as art historians have long assumed, with his iconographic specialization and his criminal conviction. Van Loo’s specialty – the nude – allowed his clientele to present themselves as judges of beauty and display their mastery of decorum, while his portraiture perfectly expressed his clients’ social and political ambitions. Van Loo’s honorable reputation explains why his success lasted a lifetime, whereas that of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Vermeer did not. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, her book reinterprets Van Loo’s treatment by his contemporaries after the manslaughter case as a sign that his elite patrons recognized him as a gentleman and highly-esteemed artist.
In this lecture, Noorman broadens her scope beyond Van Loo by addressing a larger question: Should we as (art) historians expect a seventeenth-century Dutch artist who did not conform to social expectations, either by committing adultery, going bankrupt, displaying public inebriation etc., to have suffered a negative impact on his patronage? Based on various artists’ lives, Noorman argues that such a long-assumed causal effect is undocumented, allowing new insight into the nature of relationships between artists and their patrons, as well as the interrelationships between art, honor and success in the Dutch Republic.
Judith Noorman is an Art Historian at the University of Amsterdam. She researches early modern Netherlandish art, with specific interests in 1) women in history and the arts, 2) the interrelationship between art, honor, and succes in artists' biographies, and 3) drawings practices, such as nude modelling sessions. In 2016, Noorman guest curated the exhibition Rembrandt’s Naked Truth. Drawing Nude Models in the Golden Age at the Rembrandt House Museum. On April 14, 2020, her new book Art, Honor and Success in The Dutch Republic. The Life and Career of Jacob van Loo (Amsterdam University Press) will be presented at the monthly ACSGA colloquium.