MELANCHOLY FEEBLES MAN
This painting represents a skillful allegory which combines mythology, alchemy and astrology in its depiction of Melancholy. Presented in front of a naked man in an inferior position. The beautiful winged woman derives from the figure of Melancholy engraved by the painter Dürer in 1514.
Here the female figure holds a measuring device in her right hand, a likely reference to the time which is passing by. She symbolises one of the four humors which govern and condition the human body ; black bile, according to the theory of humors which originated during the classical period. As the source of melancholy, she sickens the man with a particular sadness which can eventually lead him to madness. In the sky above, the chariot of Apollo flies towards the sun, radiating a golden light. The caduceus, symbol of Mercury who is the incarnation of order and peace, is shown upside-down in this scene to convey a threat to world order. Helpless, the man is shown naked, as if overwhelmed by melancholy when confronted by this strong and seductive woman.
Crispin Van Den Broeck, a Flemish painter who joined the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp in 1555/1556 following the proposition of Professor Da Costa Kauffman. This painter was also an architect and engraver. Crispin Van Den Broeck was the disciple of Frans Floris, from whom he adopted the style of depicting faces and poses of the characters in his pieces. Despite being renowned for his nudes, his first reference remains that of the Italian mannerists painters, Florentines and Venetians.