Ghent 1501 - Basel 1556
David Joris (or Jorisz) was described by the early 18th century Dutch art historian Arnold Houbraken as an ingenious stained glass painter working in Delft, and the biographer further noted that in his own day there were still extant examples of glass windows by the artist to be seen. According to a brief autobiographical account, after completing his training as a glazier in Antwerp, the young David Joris joined a group of Flemish craftsmen who left the city for Calais - then an English territory - where they were commissioned by a member of the court of Henry VIII to produce stained glass windows for a chapel. Joris further claims to have accompanied his colleagues onwards to London in 1522, although there he fell ill and eventually decided to return to Antwerp in 1524. As a stained glass painter, Joris’s work is close to that of Dirick Vellert of Antwerp, who may have been one of his teachers, as well as Barend van Orley (with whom Joris is thought to have travelled to Calais and London) and Pieter Coecke van Aelst. Apart from his work as a glass painter, Joris also provided a few designs for woodcuts to illustrate his own treatise, the allegorical Wonder-boeck (Book of Miracles), first published in Deventer in 1542.
Although he was by trade a glass painter, David Joris was better known in his lifetime as one of the most prominent Anabaptist leaders in the Netherlands. Baptised into the sect in 1533, he was regarded by its members as a prophet. He published over two hundred theological texts, often with reference to his visions and prophecies, of which the Wonder-boeck is the best known. Joris served as a bishop of the sect in Delft, and also presided over an Anabaptist congress in Bocholt in Westphalia in 1536. In 1538, however, he was condemned as a heretic and fled Delft, living first in Antwerp before eventually settling in Basel in 1544. He remained there, living under the assumed name of Johann van Bruck and amassing considerable wealth, until his death in 1556. Three years after his death, when it was discovered that the so-called ‘Devil from Delft’ had been secretly living in Basel, his body was disinterred (identified by his distinctive long red beard, as seen in a splendid portrait of Joris in the Öffentliche Kunstsammlungen in Basel), and was publicly burned.