Our selection of Old Masters focuses on the North European schools, favoring high age Flemish and German Renaissance painting.
We focus particular attention on Brueghel, a circle representing, in reputation, value and importance, the absolute excellence of Flemish art. We can supply various types of paintings of the Brueghel Dynasty and their circle, studied for any type of purchase.
Finally, we also offer a selection of works from the Dutch Golden Age.
Cornelis de BailleurMadonna with Child and Angels
oil on copper
1640 ca.Bailleur was a Flemish painter of sacred scenes, ornaments and “interieur du cabinet”. He was influenced by Frans Francken the Younger and by the Brueghel’s school, with his own chromatic figures and a personal and refined style. The subject was replicated several times by the author, even within wreaths or larger compositions (the comparison is obviously with the garland present in this same exhibition). The color ranges and the style bring the work closer to the results of Frans Francken the Younger. The details are also of fine workmanship: e.g. the needle held by the Madonna, the kitchen tools and the rich cradle adorned as a gothic scaffolding. Lastly, the expedient of the golden highlights that emerge from the clouds and have been placed by Bailleur as a primary pictorial layer, where the author then went on to lay out the various colored backgrounds.
Jan Brueghel II and Cornelis de BailleurGarland of Flowers with Madonna, Child and Angels Oil on panel 71,4 x 65,7 cm 1630 ca.
expertise K. ErtzJan Brueghel the Younger realized many paintings dedicated to this subject: a wreath of flowers, outlined as a sort of frame, containing sacred subjects of various kinds and entrusted from time to time to specific collaborators. In this case, the jovial and anecdotal central scene is a famous composition by Cornelis de Bailleur, the talented pupil of Frans Francken who, right thanks to this subject, is famous among the lovers of Flemish painting of the seventeenth Century. The subject became very popular during the Counter-Reformation based on the baroque taste for the refined Catholic symbologies: in the work there are over thirty different floral species that, in the context of the central subject, take on a symbolic value with specific references to different Christian virtues, in particular related to the Madonna. Thus, roses symbolize purity, iris the Immaculate Conception, cyclamen the Passion of Christ, carnations the Resurrection and so on. In fact, the work is a sort of symbolic icon where space is annulled in order to leave room for intellectual and religious meditation: the dark background where images float is to be interpreted in this sense, in the light of a strongly spirituality devoted to ecstasy and meditation, without renouncing to the lyrical beauty of the object depicted as a true link between human being and the Divine. The proof is the great technical skill used on the flowers depiction, in full "Brueghel style", i.e. with vibrant colors and delicious technical skill.
Louis de CaulleryInterior scene with elegant company
oil on panel
1615 ca.According to RKD, Caullery probably came from the village of Caulery near Cambrai, but moved to Antwerp in 1594 where he trained with Joos de Momper. The date he went to Italy cannot be determined; his works prove that he did however reside in Venice, Florence and Rome. Caullery was inclined toward genre painting and dealt with a highly variety of scenes: carnivals on ice, fireworks, bull-fights, open-air collections, allegories of the five senses and meetings painted in the spirit of the Fontainebleau School. The tallness of his characters, their exquisite postures, smooth faces and bare foreheads characterize his style. His colors are highly sophisticated. Under the influence of the Italian Masters, his palette proved to be an innovation in Flanders: halftones, ocher-yellow, Veronese green and Burgundy red. His depiction of buildings shows him to be concerned with fine precision, while being very skillful at presenting perspective. He died in Antwerp. The work depicts a typical interior populated by characters dressed in elegant costumes of mannerist taste. They are focused in pleasing activities, from music to banqueting, up to the erotic allusion represented by the crimson bed on the left. The work can also be read as an allegory of the five senses, of which Caullery performed many variations, all roughly similar in style and layout and useful for stylistic comparisons. In this case, the gestures made by the various characters are to be referred to specific senses: so the food becomes the Taste and Smell, the act of touching the fruit refers to the Touch, the music to the Hearing, while the Sight is symbolized by the exchange of looks by the two characters in the center.
Jan van Kessel the ElderStudy of Insects with a Flower of Borago Officinalis
oil on copper, cm 10,4x16,2
exhibition "Brueghel. Capolavori dell'Arte Fiamminga", Turin, 21/02/2016-19/01/2017.
expertise K. ErtzJan van Kessel the Elder (Antwerp, 1626 - 1679). The maternal grandson of Jan ‘Velvet’ Brueghel, and nephew of Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers, Jan van Kessel was influenced both by his illustrious family and his apprenticeship with Simon de Vos (1603 – 1676). He became a master of the Guild of St. Luke at the age of 18. As demonstrated in his abundant and remarkably varied work, he excelled as much in his small panels depicting all sorts of animals, birds, batrachians and insects as in his larger compositions which included these motifs combined with mythological or Christian subjects. His renown can also be attributed to fables and singeries, of which he painted many versions. Finally, Jan van Kessel was also one of the most brilliant floral and still life painters of the Golden Age. His work is similar to that of Daniel Seghers (1590 – 1661) and naturally became part of the trend for paintings of flowers, so highly prized by art-lovers and European collectors. The charm of his paintings executed with great rigour, according to an acute sense of observation, as well as his lively and strong palette, make Jan van Kessel one of the most appealing Flemish painters and certainly one of the most appreciated.
kerstiaen de keuninckMountain Landscape with Tobias and the Angel
oil on panel
1610-15Archaic landscape-painter of Antwerp in the style of T. Verhaecht and R. Savery. He mainly painted woody mountain landscapes with large trees and valleys, sometimes animated by small Biblical figures in the foreground. His main characteristic is the use of the light: in this painting the light across the landscape has a series of shining oblique rays which intersect the sky and create an unreal and fantastic atmosphere. Unlike Jan Brueghel the Elder, who was a leading figure in the development of realistic landscape painting, Kerstiaen de Keuninck continued the Flemish tradition of imaginary mountain scenery that descended from Patinir. This large panoramic landscape view, dominated by fantastic mountains and rock formations, is an early work of the artist and was probably painted in Antwerp. It illustrates his concern with contrasting pictorial effects—such as heavy passages of opaque paint set off against areas sketched in a very thin medium—and with bold motifs like the water spray formed by flicking the brush.
Frans Francken the YoungerThe family of Darius before Alexander
Oil on copper
1630 ca.The baroque magniloquence of the Flemish area in its full splendor: Frans Francken the Younger. The Antwerp painter was a key figure in the artistic dynamics of the great city, where artists such as Brueghel, Rubens and Van Balen worked. They were all linked by profitable collaborations with Francken, who specialized himself in the rendering of typical figures with nuanced, vibrant and swirling brushstroke and the alternation of a strong chromatic contrast between the colors chosen for the clothes and the incarnates of the characters. The scene is taken from the classical historiography and it is set as an ancient bas-relief with the presence of two action plans. Immediately on the foreground the Persian queen is depicted with dramatic emphasis while she begs mercy for herself and her children before the Macedonian leader dressed like a Turkish knight. Between them, a series of characters are depicted with dialogues and poses that are typical of the Francken II, once he reached his full stylistic autonomy. In the background, a tumultuous stream of fighters clashes against a grey cloud, which turns the knights into self-propelled statues. The burning city in the scenery is illuminated by flashes of yellow and pink light, released by the author on the copper with a quick and nervous brushstroke. It is precisely the exaltation of the pictorial material as a technical virtuosity and the ability to decline the drawing in an extreme way with the juxtaposition of saturated and gaudy colors that made Frans Francken the Younger one of the most appreciated Flemish painters of the 17th century.
Monogrammist HSThe Ill Matched Lovers with a Monk
oil on panel, cm 28x42,5.
We are grateful to Cranach Research Insitute and Dr. Peter Schmelzle to have confirmed the attribution of this work.Monogrammist HS (Active during the first part of XVII Century). Rare and enigmatic painter from Basel, a pupil of Lucas Cranach, specialized in the representation of allegorical subjects often soaked in a taste for the grotesque, erotic and enigmatic. Compared to his master, Krodel presents harsher tones, with female bodies represented in ivory color and smooth as porcelain, with the characters depicted close to their caricature, deliberately in an anti-classical and anti-Italian key.
Jasper van der LanenRiver Landscape with figures
oil on panel
1625 ca.According to the RKD he was a pupil of Nicolaas Geerts in 1607 and became master of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1615. In 1624 he married Elisabeth Rombouts and the painter Abraham Govaerts was his "witness" (best man). Both Govaerts and Van der Lanen were known for their landscapes, and the painter Frans Francken II often added staffage for them.
Pietro MeraThe Temptations of St. Anthony
Oil on copper
1590 - 1610 ca.He was a rare landscape painter active in Italy and documented in Venice and Florence. His style straddles the demands of international mannerism and full 17th century painting. Little information about his life is known, but from the Italian style and nickname, a strong influence of Venetian painting is deducted, also through the mediation of other Flemish painters active in Italy, such as Pozzoserrato and Paolo Fiammingo. The episode represented in this painting is the famous one narrating the Temptations of St. Anthony. The interpretation of Mera is reduced only to the presence of two characters, with the Demon represented with the features of a classical satyr. The scene is set at the entrance of a dense forest that opens onto a vividly colored celestial view, amplified by the choice of copper as a pictorial support.
Nicolas Neufchatel (also known as Nicolas Lucidel)Portrait of Man holding a Letter Oil on panel 30,2x23,8 cm 1550 ca.
Expertise Jan de Maere.The earliest likely reference to Neufchatel occurs in the archives of the Antwerp's Guild of St. Luke, which list a 'Colyn van Nieucasteel' as a student of Pieter Coecke van Aelst in the year 1539. As a student in Antwerp, Neufchatel would have been introduced to the works of Frans Floris, Willem Key, and other masters of the 1540s. From 1561 to 1567 he lived in Nuremberg. It appears that he relocated to Germany for religious reasons, for on 23 July 1567, the city council ordered him not engage in any more Calvinist agitation. It is believed that he stayed in Nuremberg until at least 1573, the year he painted a portrait of Johan Gregor van der Schardt. After that year nothing is known of his life. Our portrait shows an evolved style and multiple stylistic influences, including a certain attention to the Italian portraiture of the 1500s. In any case, the strong naturalism of the many details that dot the character's face follows the typical Flemish attention to the naturalistic rendering of reality.
Adam van NoortMadonna and Child with Saint Joseph
>Oil on panel79,4 x 56,8 cm 1580 ca.
Archived in RKD as Adam van Noort.Defined by Van Mander in 1604 as a "very skillful painter," van Noort is part of the Flemish painting already influenced by Italian art. He was stranger to the prevailing fashion, Van Noort managed one of the most popular ateliers in Antwerp and he was able to cope with a large number of students, including those who later became great masters such as Rubens (from 1592) and Van Dyck, who also made a famous portrait of his teacher. Known for his alternating moods, his life as a libertine and, often, his violence, Van Noort was always conscious of the limitations and skills of his students, directing their careers also through the collaboration with the atelier of Otto Van Veen. His works were mainly biblical and of allegorical disobedience and portraits made for the Sint-Lucas gilde (the author was a member) have not been preserved. The work, part of the prestigious Goudstikker collection, is considered as of today one of the most significant - and certain of attribution - still in private hands. Despite the religious subject, the scene is treated with an extreme naturalism, aiming to portray a simple mother with a child in a moment of lyrical intimacy rather than something grand and academic. The sculpted cradle, together with details such as the cushion and the string of pearls on the Madonna's forehead, are remarkable for their realistic rendering. The paneggi, the incarnate and the architectures on the background, however, are clearly of Italian influence.
Adriaen van OverbekeThe Ascension
Oil on panel
1516 ca.We thank Professor Pieter van den Brink for his valuable assistance in the attribution of the work. Adrian van Overbeke (formerly known as “Master of the Antwerp Crucifixion”) was the perfect embodiment of the so-called Antwerp Mannerism. He was the head of a prolific workshop which specialised in big polyptychs (altarpieces). The polyptychs were characterised by painted panels and niches filled with multi-coloured sculptures. These giant religious pieces were commonly used in northern Europe during the first half of the seventeenth century. There is proof of commissions as far as Poland and Scandinavia. Today, most of the polyptychs which have not been lost are scattered across various museums and private collections. They represent rare and valuable documentation of the most typical Flemish production of the early 1500s. Our panel, which comes from an important Roman aristocratic collection representing the Ascension of Jesus, is no exception. This work, as highlighted by Professor van den Brink, is closely related to the panels currently kept at the Bonennfanten Museum in Maastricht. Since it is larger in size than the panels of Dutch origin, this polyptych is likely linked to another example, now lost, which was intended for the Kempen Cathedral in Rhineland. Due to the recurrence of the design in the two works, it is possible to draw compelling stylistic comparisons. For instance, it is easy to draw parallels between our panel and those sold by Christie's Amsterdam in 2014 (initially attributed to the Antwerp School, but later to Van Overbeke, FIG.1) by looking at such aspects as spatial layout, facial features, colour use, the use of extravagant and elongated shapes and the details of the hands and feet. This anti-classical and exaggerated style was one of the reasons that made the Antwerp paintings popular in the early 1500s, because it balanced revivalism with a figurative language that could be easily understood by the viewer, who, as a result, was able to promptly recognise a Flemish work by its flamboyant colours, extreme poses and expressions, unrealistic and bizarre architectural and geographical settings, in the spirit of an "hyper-gothic" style which drew on technical expertise and pictorial tool typical of the Renaissance. Apart from the considerable evidence offered by the quality level (uneven in other works, due to the high number of van Overbeke's collaborators), we would like to highlight the importance of the historical and artistic rediscovery, further enhanced through the thorough process of restoration. As we can see from the pre-cleaning photo, the upper part of the painting was covered and edited, pleasing a Mediterranean taste, with the aim of diluting the overly extravagant iconographic invention. Christ's figure so curiously levitates in the air and passes from the physical universe to the timeless and metaphysical one, which emerges amidst the clouds and reveals the gold of Paradise. The figure of Christ underwent a colour change; it was covered and embedded into the opening as if it was looking out from a balcony, despite the total inconsistency with the spatial setting of the scene. Moreover, the footprints (etched in the earth, according to Christian tradition) now visible on the top of the mountain were covered as well. The thorough cleaning, which brought to light the original quality of the work - as well as the bright chromatic range that distinguishes it - helped each of the details, previously hidden and perfectly preserved under the recent layer of paint, to re-emerge. The panel, which is still the largest among the ones still in existence made by van Overbeke, is therefore unique among the works of the author and an addition to his small catalogue, thus most likely representing the only part (at least known as of today) of one of the polyptychs destined for the aforementioned European cathedrals.
Frans Pourbus IPortrait of Young Man
Oil on panel
Inscribed on the top left “1563”.We thank Professor Koenraad Jonckheere for his valuable assistance in the attribution of the work. Frans Pourbus the Elder’s portraits demonstrate remarkable powers of observation. The features of the man in our portrait, with his subtly modelled flesh, angular face, high cheekbones, long nose and heavy lidded eyes have been notably individualized. He gazes directly and somewhat seriously at the viewer, his brow furrowed and contemplative. The portrait as a whole is an astute psychological study of a man in his prime, presumably in his late twenties. This little portrait comes from a prestigious provenance, the collection of the Duke of Hamilton during XIX century and, subsequently, through somes noble properties, a patrician roman collection. All the passages of property, since 1882, are documented through the labels affixed on the back of the painting.