The Story of Sorgheloos thumbnail 1
The Story of Sorgheloos thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries

The Story of Sorgheloos

Roundel
ca. 1520 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The tale of Sorgheloos is a secular version of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32). This type of story stemmed from Morality Plays, which were sponsored by trade and professional guilds in towns throughout medieval Europe.

Although the Sorgheloos story was a popular one, few designs or roundels depicting it survive. There are several roundels in collections with the same images as the two in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum numbers: C.65 & 66-1929), but we do not know their design sources.

The story concerns a young man (Sorgheloos, or ‘Carefree’ in English) who squanders his fortune on gambling, loose woman and corrupt friends. When he becomes penniless, his friends desert him and he ends up destitute. So, unlike the parable related by St Luke, the story of Sorgheloos does not have a happy ending.

The other characters in the story are Weelde (Luxury), a woman; Gemack (Ease/Comfort), a male companion; Pouer (Poverty), a male beggar; Aermoede (Want), a woman; and Lichte Fortune (Fickle Fortune).

This roundel shows the final episode in the story. Penniless and alone, except for Aermoede, Sorgheloos sits in front of a fire with only grass to fuel it, cooking his fishtail supper. Aermoede is outside gathering straw.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Clear glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain
Brief Description
Stained and painted glass roundel depicting an episode in the story of Sorgheloos ('Sorgheloos in Poverty'). Made in the Netherlands, c.1520.
Physical Description
In the centre of the roundel a man is seated on an up-turned banded wooden barrel. He is wearing ragged shorts and he has only one stocking (on his left leg). He is wearing a ragged shirt, torn at one elbow, over which is a waistcoat. He is wearing what appears to be a felt hat. He is in a stone cottage with a wooden ceiling and sits in front of a fire which is in a large stone fireplace. He is putting straw onto the fire. There is a stewpot in the fire with a fish tail hanging out of it. A dog sits behind him panting while a cat and a rat, possibly dead, lie at his feet. A bellows hangs on the side of the fireplace. On the back wall there is a storage cupboard which is next to some open shelving. There is a jug, some dishes and some cutlery or cooking implements on the shelves. The jug and dishes appear to be made of pewter. In the back right of the roundel a door opens onto a yard and there can be seen a woman bending down gathering grass.



The whole executed in brown/black pigment and silver stain and set in a border of blue glass with a painted inscription:



Het is nu te ende wan ic mij...goede...[in nu] wel...serve got zie
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 28.5cm
  • Framed height: 31.2cm
  • Framed width: 31.0cm
  • Framed depth: 3.2cm
  • Framed weight: 2.0kg
Marks and Inscriptions
Het is nu te ende wan ic mij...goede...[in nu] wel...serve got zie (On border)
Gallery Label
TWO SCENES FROM THE STORY OF SORGHELOOS The cautionary tale of Sorgheloos ('Carefree' or 'Reckless') is a version of the parable of the Prodigal Son, illustrating the consequences of dissolute living. These roundels show the two final scenes of a larger cycle. In the first, Sorgheloos is shown carrying Aermoede ('Indigence') and being rejected by his former friends and relatives. In the second, the once-wealthy Sorgheloos' final fate is revealed: shivering before a feeble fire in a run-down hovel. North Netherlands, about 1520 Museum nos. C.65-1929 (Sorgheloos in Poverty), C.66-1929 (Sorgheloos and Aermoede)((PW) 2004)
Object history
Purchased from Wilfrid Drake from a sale at Sotheby's.
Historical context
The tale of Sorgheloos is a secular version of the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32). This type of story will have stemmed from the Morality plays sponsored by the trade and professional guilds of the towns throughout Medieval Europe.



Although the Sorgheloos story was a popular one, not many designs or roundels depicting the story survive. There are several roundels in collections that have the same images as the two V&A ones (C.65 & 66-1929) but their design sources have not been identified.



The story concerns a young man (Sorgheloos or Carefree in English) who squanders his fortune on gambling, loose woman and corrupt friends. When he becomes penniless, his friends desert him and he ends up destitute. So, unlike the parable related by St. Luke, the story of Sorgheloos does not have a happy ending.



The characters in the story are Sorgheloos, Weelde (Luxury) - a woman, Gemack (Ease/Comfort), Pouer (Poverty), Aermoede (Wordly Pleasure) - a woman, and Lichte Fortune (Fickle Fortune).



This roundel shows the final episode in the story of Sorgheloos. Penniless and alone, except for Aermoede, he sits in front of a fire with nothing but grass to fuel it to cook his fishtail supper. Aermoede is outside gathering straw.
Production
North Lowlands
Subjects depicted
Summary
The tale of Sorgheloos is a secular version of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32). This type of story stemmed from Morality Plays, which were sponsored by trade and professional guilds in towns throughout medieval Europe.



Although the Sorgheloos story was a popular one, few designs or roundels depicting it survive. There are several roundels in collections with the same images as the two in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum numbers: C.65 & 66-1929), but we do not know their design sources.



The story concerns a young man (Sorgheloos, or ‘Carefree’ in English) who squanders his fortune on gambling, loose woman and corrupt friends. When he becomes penniless, his friends desert him and he ends up destitute. So, unlike the parable related by St Luke, the story of Sorgheloos does not have a happy ending.



The other characters in the story are Weelde (Luxury), a woman; Gemack (Ease/Comfort), a male companion; Pouer (Poverty), a male beggar; Aermoede (Want), a woman; and Lichte Fortune (Fickle Fortune).



This roundel shows the final episode in the story. Penniless and alone, except for Aermoede, Sorgheloos sits in front of a fire with only grass to fuel it, cooking his fishtail supper. Aermoede is outside gathering straw.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
  • Husband, Timothy, The Luminous Image: Painted Glass Roundels in the Lowlands, 1480-1560, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995p.97
  • Timothy Husband, "'Ick Sorgheloose…':A Silver-Stained Roundel in the Cloisters," Metropolitan Museum Journal 24, 1989, pp.173-88
  • P.J. de Jong, "Sorgheloos, een zestiende eeuwse rijmprentenreeks; tekst en commentaat", Spektator 7, 1977-78, pp.104-20
  • Herman Pleij, "Sorgheloos", in Het zal koud zijn in 't water als 't vriest. Zestiende-eeuwse parodieen op gedruckte jaarvoorspellingen, The Hague, 1980
  • William Cole, A Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, Oxford University Press, 1993
  • Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1999-2000, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Fall 2000, pp.20-1
Collection
Accession Number
C.65-1929

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record createdJune 15, 1999
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