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Men Shoveling Chairs (Scupstoel)

Circle of Rogier van der Weyden, possibly Vranke van der Stockt (Netherlandish, ca. 1420–1495)

Artist:
Circle of Rogier van der Weyden (Tournai 1399/1400–Brussels 1464)
Date:
1444–50
Medium:
Pen and brown ink over traces of black chalk.
Dimensions:
11 13/16 x 16 3/4 in. (30.0 x 42.6 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.848
  • Description

    This remarkable drawing – among the few extant fifteenth-century designs for representational sculpture – is a study for one of three narrative capitals carved for the Brussels town hall between 1444 and 1450. The subject is a pun on the word scupstoel (literally “shovel chair”), a contraption used for public humiliation in which felons were raised above water and then dropped in. Scupstoel was also the name of a house that previously stood on the site of the new wing of the town hall. An inscription on the drawing’s reverse indicates that the drawing served as a patroen, a model that may illustrate an intermediary stage between the preliminary sketch and the detailed pattern used by the sculptors of the capital. Its curved design suggests the three-dimensional form of the capital. Traditionally associated with the circle of Rogier van der Weyden, the renowned Netherlandish master who oversaw a large workshop as town painter of Brussels, the drawing recently has been attributed to Rogier’s successor in this role: the painter Vrancke van der Stockt. A 19th-century reconstruction of the “Scupstoel” capital (after the original, Musée Communal, Brussels) is now on the ground floor arcade, L’Hôtel de Ville, Grande Place, Brussels.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Annotated along the left side of the verso in pen and ink in a fifteenth-century hand: "tpatroen van den scupst [ ] l / ende van spapenkeld onder" (the last five letters unclear).

  • Provenance

    Not established.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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