Thursday 4 July 2013

Flying The Flag For Women * Agnes van den Bossche 1481-1482

In 1480 women represented a quarter of all the members of the guild of painters in Bruges. Virtually all are unknown to us to this day. One exception is Agnes van den Bossche, who between 1481 and '82 painted this flag of the Maid of Ghent now in the Musee de la Byloke, Ghent (the letter g is for Ghent). We know of Agnes' work because of the accounts kept at the time: Item, bought from Janne de Wilde, the merchant: 16 ells (an ell is 27 inches) fine linen, cost, 7 large ones the ell and a quarter; half an ounce blue yarn, cost 6 groat; six ounces green silken fringe, at 20 groat per ounce; 10 ells green serge fringe, at 2 groat per ell; of which were made 1 standard 7 ells long; 1 short standard, 4 ells long; and two pennons, adds up to 21 shillings 6 shillings groat. Item, Miss Agneesen van den Bossche, painter, to make of the above mentioned two standards that will be painted with the Maid of Ghent and two pennons, all together 3lb 6 shilling groat. It is known that Agnes became a free master in 1468 and received numerous commissions for making flags. In 1474 she was asked to paint 7 blazons and 3 pennons for trumpets. In 1476 she had many commissions for flags upon the occasion of the Joyous Entry of Duchess Marie. The flag shown is the only one painted on canvas that can be assigned to the Early Netherlandish school - and the only documented painting by a 15th century Flemish woman. (Source - Diane Wolfthal. Agnes van den Bossche: Early Netherlandish Painter. Woman's Art Journal Vol 6 No 6 Spring Summer 1985)

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