Van Orley – physician in Brussels

Joris van Zelle (1491–1567) was physician of the city of Brussels from 1522–61, practicing at St. John’s Hospital. In this 1519 painting by Flemish artist Bernard van Orley, he is shown in his library at age 28, surrounded by elegantly bound books, wearing a felt hat and a fur-lined coat. He is taking notes, and his paper, inkwell, and quill case are shown in the painting. Orley has cleverly inserted his signature in the trim around the tapestry hanging on the wall. The significance of the monogram and of the joined hands above and below the monogram has never been explained. The portrait is now displayed in the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels.

 

Joris van Zelle, 1519
Bernard van Orley
Oil on oak
15.4” x 12.6”

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1500-1558), ca. 1515
Bernard van Orley
Oil on wood

Margaret of Austria, ca. 1515
Bernard van Orley
Oil on panel

 

Bernard van Orley (1487–1542) was born in Brussels and is believed to have completed his art education in Rome in the school of Raphael. Returning to Brussels, he held an appointment as court painter until 1527, and then again from 1532 to his death in 1542. Although his early work was in the Flemish tradition, he introduced into Flanders the Italian manner of the later Renaissance, the style he had acquired during his sojourn in Rome. His other portraits include that of the youthful emperor Charles V and of his aunt Margaret of Austria.

 


GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief