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September 2011 – Joost van Amstel van Mijnden, 1554, Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht


Copyright: Truus van Bueren


The memorial brass showing Joost van Amstel van Mijnden and his family (Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht) is one of a handful of memorial brasses from the Northern Netherlands to have survived. The brass was made shortly after Joost van Amstel van Mijnden’s death in 1554. At first sight the image seems conventional for the Northern Netherlands. Many memorial paintings and sculptures featured donor portraits of a family, and this brass depicts a couple with their son. They are shown kneeling on the left, looking up towards a religious scene of the Holy Trinity in the upper right corner of the brass. The husband is wearing armour; his little son Joost is kneeling by his side. The wife and mother kneels behind them. The coats of arms of the portrayed persons figure prominently. On the left are the quarters of the Uteneng family, on the right those of Van Amstel van Mijnden, in the centre the quartered arms of Joost van Amstel van Mijnden, and on the prie-dieu the per pale arms of Philippa van Uteneng.


Although it is clear that we are dealing with a family of noble ancestry, this does not explain why so much room has been reserved for the portraits, coats of arms and text. A solution may be found in the text, which reads in translation:

In the year 1553 on 19 January died Joost van

Amstell van Mijnden, Lord of Loenersloot, who

was married to Lady Philippa Amelis’s daughter uten Eng,

with whom he had a son who was born after his death

and who was named after him, and he lies under this slab.


The memorial brass was meant to mark the grave of Joost van Amstel van Mijnden, and at the same time it also commemorated the family as a unit, including young Joost who was born after his father’s death. Undoubtedly, the sixteenth-century beholder would have understood this. However, not everybody would have been aware of the anachronism in the text. Joost senior is honoured as Lord of Loenersloot, which in fact he never was because his father Jacob van Amstel did not die until 1568 or shortly before, i.e. fourteen years after his eldest son and heir had passed away. The fact that Jacob was still living may also explain why Joost was not buried in the church of the Loenersloot estate, but in the church of Overlangbroek, where Philippa had inherited Zuilenburg Castle from her father in 1538. Joost van Amstel van Mijnden’s son Joost became Lord of Loenersloot after the death of his grandfather Jacob in 1568.




Brass of Joost van Amstel van Mijnden and his family

Photograph by courtesy of

Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, The Netherlands

1. Memorial brass for Joost van Amstel van Mijnden, provenance: church of St Hyacinthus, Overlangbroek, c. 1554, measurements approx. 1070 x 690 x 6 mm. Utrecht, Museum Catharijneconvent, RMCC m34. A more extensive article with footnotes will be published in the Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society.



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