Can it be coincidence that the seated figure in the Petrus Christus painting “A Goldsmith in his Shop” (1449) is similar in composition and concept to Jan van Eyck’s Léal Souvenir portrait of Pierre de Bauffremont (1432)?
The inscribed underside of the shop counter and foundation stone share the same theme of a sacrificial altar; the faraway, searching gaze of the two men, both wearing red pleated coats and holding an object in the right hand, is also matched; the hand descending on the shoulder mirrors the descending liripipe of the green chaperon; the left forearm of both men extends across their chest and the sleeve cuff is fur-lined – but note the fur cuff is absent on the right sleeves!
So is Petrus attempting to link the identity of the man in Van Eyck’s painting, Pierre de Bauffremont, with one of the identies assigned to the goldsmith, apart from St Eligius? Or is he hinting at the possibility that the woman, standing at the goldsmith’s right hand and portrayed as Joan of Arc, may have had some connection to Pierre?
In an article for the British Society for the Turin Shroud and re-published at the Shroud of Turin website, researcher Hugh Duncan has raised the possibility Joan of Arc, as a child, may have visted the Bauffremont castle located a few kilometres from Doremy where Joan was brought up.
A Goldsmith in his Shop by Petrus Christus 1449
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. On view at The Met Fifth Avenue