7 Van Limburg Brothers: Nijmegen years


In 1366, a certain Johannes de Lymborgh became a citizen of Nijmegen. Of course, this information is too paltry to indicate him as father to Arnold van Limburg, and thus grandfather to the Van Limburg Brothers, but the fact is, that in the rest of that period no other Van Limburgs are mentioned in the official list of new citizens of Nijmegen. That Arnold van Limburg has always possessed Nijmegen citizenship is also a fact. The name Van Limburg does not refer to the present-day Dutch and/or Belgian province Limburg: these two geographical units have only in the 19th century sprung from King Willem I's imagination. The medieval Limburg was a duchy of varying size, named after a castle and a small town on the river Vesdre in the present-day Belgian province of Liège.
Anyhow, a certain Arnold van Limburg, Nijmegen citizen and wood-engraver by profession, married Jan Maelwael's sister, named Mechteld or Metta, around 1380. He was also called Arnold van Aken (= Aachen). His family probably came to Nijmegen from the duchy Limburg via nearby Aachen. In the Van Limburg-Maelwael family, at least six children were born, five boys and a girl. As usual, the sons followed their father's artistic vocation from an early age. Their gift was quickly apparent and their talent was of course nourished in all ways. Father Arnold gained an ever more prominent place in his in-laws'studio next to the town hall in Nijmegen. After 1397, when Herman, Willem and Jan Maelwael had disappeared from the Nijmegen scene, he probably took charge of the studio. Wood-engravers, like Arnold van Limburg, routinely collaborated with painters, because all of their work used to be painted in polychrome. A sculpture without colours was just incomplete. The arts at that time were not yet split up in specialties, as was true for the sciences. Arnold's reign in the studio can not have lasted for long. Around 1410 he had certainly died and possibly even earlier. His wife Mechteld lived till the spring of 1414.
It is unclear at what time the three eldest sons, Paul, Herman and Jan, left their town of birth. It has long been presumed that this had to have been just before 1400, but the sources are interpreted differently nowadays. The most likely version is that they were fetched directly from Nijmegen to Dijon or Paris by their uncle Jan Maelwael, between 1400 and 1402, possibly right after the death of their father, wood-engraver Arnold van Limburg. They were then between fourteen and eighteen years old, and left behind two little brothers, Arnold and Rutger, and a sister, Greta. Not much is known about the rest of Arnold junior's life. We know that he was apprenticed to an old acquaintance, goldsmith Adam van Stokkum, so we can assume that he became a painter or goldsmith as well. He is sometimes called the fourth Van Limburg brother, although the fact is that he never worked together with the other three. Greta, the only daughter, in 1417 married Derik Neven, descendant from a wealthy Nijmegen family. After their marriage, the couple moved to Cologne, where Derik represented his town as a kind of commercial attaché.
Rutger became a priest. His elder brothers fetched him to Bourges, where from 1416 until his death in 1435 he was a canon in the collegiate chapter of the Sainte Chapelle of Bourges, the private chapel of the Duc de Berry. 


<<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  >>