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Price range: € 10.000 / € 20.000
Artist: Martin van Cleve (Flemish, 1527-1581) / attributed
Title: 'Adoration of the Child Jesus'
Size: 90 x 48 cm (35,4 x 18,8 inch)
Signed: no signature
Inventory no.: 318MVC9

Marten van Cleve the Elder (Antwerp, c. 1527 – before 24 November 1581), also called Martin van Cleve, Maerten van Cleve, Martin van Cleef was a Flemish painter and draftsman active in Antwerp between 1551 and 1581.
He is referred to as "the Elder" to distinguish him from his son Marten the Younger (before 1560–after 1604). He was the son of Willem van Cleve the Elder, and the younger brother of Hendrick Van Cleve and the elder brother of Willem van Cleve the Younger.


The elder Marten studied under Frans Floris, and at first exhibited a strong predilection for landscape work. Later on, however, persuaded by Hendrick, he devoted himself wholly to figure-painting. Historical subjects were his favourites, but he also achieved success in genre painting. The latter has been stigmatized as vulgar and suggestive, but while coarse, it reflects the peasant life of the Flemings. After a few early attempts in large compositions after the Italian manner of Floris, he painted small pictures only.

Marten van Cleve painted in the landscapes the figures of many eminent contemporaries, Pierre Gilles and Franz Floris among them, and he continually collaborated with his brother Hendrick in that way. Hendrick reciprocated and added to Marten's figure-pieces landscape backgrounds. On many of his works Marten painted, as a mark, a small ape playing thus on his name and in consequence has frequently been called the "Master of the Ape". He was admitted to the Antwerp Academy, and in 1551 became a member of the St. Luke's Guild of Artists. He never travelled from his native Flanders, and died of gout at the age of fifty, leaving four sons, all of them painters. According to the RKD, Hans Jordaens was his pupil.

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