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.
Roelant Savery and Hans Savery IILandscape with a Tower
oil on circular panel
diameter cm 49,5
pubblished : K. Mullenmeister, Roelant Savery, general catalogue, Neues und Erganzungen zum Oeuvreverzeichnis, Freren, 1988, pag 74, n. 257a.The painting, thanks to its circular shape, is still reminiscent of the “landscape-world” as it was conceived by Patinir and Henri Met de Bles, thus drenched in a cosmic breath: the breath-taking clouds, perfectly executed, allow the sun rays to pass through, now free to light the Earth and the men, who came back from the gruelling fishing labour. They are finally safe from the dreadful leviathans, still hidden under a grim, abyssal and ominous sea. On the other side, the coast is swiftly swallowed by a coniferous forest, leaving to the Man the only living space that, like a narrow line, lies between the forest and the sea. The depiction of animals and plants follows a fluctuating path between technical accuracy and fairy-tale wisdom, according to the typical Savery approach (e.g. its renowned and iconic painting of the dodo bird, before its extinction). The artist deals with the relationship between man and nature – typical theme of the Flemish landscape painting of that era – through an epic mood, worthy of Bruegel the Elder. This contrast is declined as an existential reflection on human limits and constraints and the meaning of nature: the small size of these human beings forces them into biblical impotence, despite the virtuous display of their technical abilities (fishing and architecture seen as coercion and dominance of the world). Men are subdued by a mechanical and natural cycle from which they can’t escape. They are puppets in a grander scheme they’re not aware of, which may be driven by physical forces whose functioning is unknown or by metaphysical entities, which can manifest through natural phenomena, being them storms, glints of light through the clouds or the impenetrable - poignant - beauty of the world.
Jan Brueghel II and Pieter van AvontLandscape with Holy Family
Oil on copper
Expertise K. ErtzMagnificent example of collaboration, following the widespread practice in Antwerp in the seventeenth century, between Brueghel the II as a landscape specialist and van Avont as a "staffage" painter, i.e. the painting of the characters. The composition is among the most famous of Brueghel the II and it was copied and imitated by many followers, due to its ability to combine the best sacred subject and the ideal landscape. By this way the evangelical episode of the rest from the escape into Egypt becomes the expedient to stage a nature with bright colors, with rich turquoise and aqua green accents, enhanced by a vast range of naturalistic details: from the rose garden to the right, to the fruits on top, from the deer that drinks in the crystalline stretch of water to the guinea pigs in the foreground. The very thin copper leaf on which the work - in perfect condition - was painted is of considerable size and it is likely that it was destined for the Spanish and Mexican market, according to a widespread commercial practice in vogue from the years '40 of the '600. Thanks to this practice the Flemish painting on copper of "brueghellian-style" had a diffusion and an unusual worldwide success. It is the undoubted ability of the "Brueghel style" to conquer the eye with such incredible ease, dissolving the most typical stylistic matter effortlessly and with infallible method, chiseling the details as in a goldsmith's work and always choosing a vibrant chromatic accord, with the objective to stimulate the gaze. The fat children who surround the Holy Family, then, add a further tone of delicacy to the scene, through an anecdotal and joyful attitude, full of "joie-de-vivre".
Frans Francken IIISingerie (allegory of human condition)
Oil on copper
Expertise Ursula HaertingIn her anthological account of Frans Francken's work, the scholar Ursula Haerting dedicates a specific chapter to the paintings on monkeys. Although it is known from various sources that Francken II was widely devoted to the subject, Haerting attributes to him only four works - on a stylistic basis - suggesting that a large part of the production is to be assigned to his brother Hyeronimus Francken and his son Frans Francken III, who, however, used to leave their works unsigned. This until the discovery of our unpublished painting, which therefore constitutes a work of exceptional importance in the author's catalog. Frans Francken III was born in Antwerp in 1607 of Elisabeth Plaquet and Frans Francken II, of whom he was a pupil. In 1639-1640 he became part of the Corporation of San Luke and in 1655-1656 he was appointed its dean. He collaborated, like his father before him, with other artists by painting the staffage figures in their works. For example with Pieter Neefs I and Pieter Neefs II he created representations of church interiors. Generally speaking he was an eclectic painter: he devoted himself to portraiture, as well as still lifes, in particular floral, genre subjects, architecture, paintings for art galleries (“Cabinet des interieurs”) and religious subjects. Our work, in a fantastic state of preservation, shows the typical style of mature Flemish Baroque, with strong paternal influences: the essential chromatic palette, the delicacy of the pictorial layers, the enamel highlights and the nervous temperament, with which the six monkeys are characterized, animate the scene. They speak about a small, irresistible and fascinating art jewel, where the hand of a Master imposes itself on the eye with impeccable superiority and awareness.
The Master of Antwerp CrucifixionAdoration of the Magi
Oil on table
Expertise Jan de MaereAdrian 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. The scene is compressed and agitated, according to the Frankfurt master's typical way of conceiving space and the relationship between the various characters, that appear moved by a theatrical excitement while they struggle to comment and participate in the incredible event of which they are spectators. Moreover, according to the typical taste of the Antwerp Mannerism, the procession of the Three Wise Men is thought of as an exotic caravan of knights and scholars with half-moons and turbans, coming from distant lands with their gifts, contained in precious gold reliquaries. The richness of the garments reaches excellent levels of quality in some details, such as the puffed sleeve embroidered with golden brocades in a pink field in the dress of Melchior, with long and thick hair and with a frowning expression, portrayed as he reaches for Mary to show her his gift. The latter, in turn, is dressed in an intensely blue cloak adorned with fur and gold embroidery, while her head is wrapped in a veil of such lightness that it is outlined with only hints of white. Kneeling, the elder Caspar is portrayed in profile: his face, very rich in calligraphic wrinkles, gnarled hands and sparse hair allow us to glimpse the underlying design, genuine and thoughtful, full of repentance, typical of the most original compositions (note the change of position of some details, such as the gesture of the Child Jesus). The gold chains and the rich belt, the polished lucidity of the face of Mary, the anatomical perfection of the hands, the classical and magniloquent architecture, in contrast with the green and blue landscape, investigated with lenticular precision, the colorful diversity of the material surfaces, from brocades to animal skins, as well as the general rarefied, fairytale and sophisticated atmosphere, make this painting a perfect manifesto of Flemish painting in Antwerp in the 16th Century.
Frans Francken the YoungerThe family of Darius before Alexander
Oil on copper
published: U. Haerting "Frans Francken de J.-the Paintings", Freren 1989, cat. Nr. 350 (senza immagine).
Expertise Ursula HaertingThe 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.
Jan Brueghel II and Pieter van AvontVirgin with Child into a Landscape
Olio on copper
With antique frame
Expertise K. ErtzDelicious, minute work by Jan Brueghel the Younger in collaboration with P. van Avont for the figurative part, with a coeval frame and in perfect condition. This type of painting was intended for private devotion and / or ornamental use for the "cabinet des interieurs", where they were arranged to cover entire walls, along with other works. This kind of use can be clearly seen on the paintings depicting these galleries and often made by Frans Francken and Adriaen van Stalbempt, with an advertising function in order to show the works available on the Antwerp market. Stylistically, the work presents the pictorial tendencies of Jan II on his way to a greater detachment from his father's dictates, with the use of a darker chromatic range and the landscape conception as a visual glimpse attributing airiness and depth to the main scene. The meticulous rose garden on the right, the flowers and fruits at the feet of the Virgin represent an unmistakable stylistic code of the author. As always, Brueghel reveals his ability to maintain an excellent quality even in apparently secondary details, that marks the real difference between the Master and his followers.
Gillis MostaertPaesaggio con la Distruzione di Sodoma e Gomorra
olio su tavola
Expertise Luuk PijlRenowned painter, he specialised in landscapes and deserved an honourable mention in The Lives by Giorgio Vasari due to his already considerable fame at the time. Mostaert was one of the most intelligent interpreters of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s lesson, from whom he was able to deviate thanks to his inventiveness and through the creation of a distinctive style. The naïve mood can be regarded as a "work of subtraction", aimed at removing every formal and unnecessary element and at reducing the graphic sign, in order to leave room for large fields of bright and contrasting colours. The fantastic views that fill his paintings bursts with small figures, often made by other painters specialised in the staffage. Our composition is also known in another variant by the same author, whose subject is, however, the Autumn season and it differs in a significant number of details, both compositional and chromatic. The use of basic patterns to create several paintings was a widespread and established practice since Henri met de Bles. Mostaert was not far behind, often using the trick of changing the colours in which the characters or minor details were completed, as well as with the reversal or re-composition of various parts of the general scheme. However, starting from an identical basic structure and achieving such original and autonomous results is extremely rare.
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 OstadeThe school’s village
Oil on panel
Signed and dated 1636.The painting belonged to the illustrious collection owned by Jacques Goudstikker, the most important collector of Dutch and Flemish art of the XX century. Furthermore, the collection has been tracked since 1914. After being held in a private collection from 1997 until today, the artwork shows on the market as one of the highest examples of genre painting, of which Adriaen van Ostade was the major exponent. The van Ostade brothers lived and worked all their lives in Haarlem, the heart of the Dutch Golden Age where they, together with Frans Hals, created the school that best embodied the new artistic approach that was taking hold during the XVII century. During the first years of his career, Ostade focused his art on joyfulness and exaggeration of the depicted scenes, using a sharp contrast between lights, often concentrating on a small portion of the canvas, surrounded by dimmer environments, the same way a spotlight lights a stage. The key to its chromatic harmony, which can make seemingly heavy and pasty shades seem graceful, resides all in the grayscale layered from time to time to the typical pinks and the dark blues. The result is a chromatic harmony that uniforms the painting, already embellished by a refined rendering of details, always cured and never simpering: in this balance resides Ostade’s artistic grandeur, able to depict the poetry of working classes, beyond their rural living conditions and harsh human traits. For this reason, his style has been referred to as “Rembrandtism”, for Ostade’s art has taken Rembrandt as reference point, especially from 1635 onward, to express a deeper psychological introspection that was being investigated in Amsterdam’s art scene, relying on colour to express emotions of love and drama. In the scene, perfectly conserved and of impeccable quality, a spotlight immediately conveys our attention to the focus of the narration: a teacher trying to bring together a group of undisciplined children, who at the time used to be mixed in a single class, ranging from younger ones to teenagers: some are studying, other waiting for their homework to be graded, some are playing while some just can’t seem to stand still, under the impassive – almost apathetic - teacher’s figure, standing next to an hourglass, by now more of a countdown than a warning. A witchy figure is pointing its finger towards a small child, holding his hat with deference while being introduced to the teacher: a new student or someone who’s gotten in trouble? Hence, with thick, lumpy brushstrokes and chiaroscuro effects that generate a myriad of details, van Ostade becomes a storyteller and his tale is as simple as it is universal, a realistic lifestyle still, where feelings and events transcend time to become infinite.
The Master with the ParrotMadonna with Child (Virgo Lactans)
oil on panel
1530 ca.The author takes his name from an in-depth article that the art historian Maximilian Friedlander dedicated him in 1948, where the scholar gathered a first number of works around a personality whose name was at the time unknown, but it turned out to be enough clear from a stylistic point of view. The curious nickname derives from the insistence and typicality that we can find in a certain number of works where the presence of a parrot is shown. However, as of today it is possible to assign to the artist a more varied and broader number of works, also thanks to the recent discovery of a Madonna and Child (without parrot) signed in full "Cornelis Bazelear Fecit" of unquestionable stylistic clarity. In addition to this, it has been hypothesized with ample plausibility that the painters working around and under Bazelaer constituted a substantial workshop which, between Antwerp and Bruges, carried out in a unitary style a series of devotional works, especially intended for the international market. The practice was very widespread also in other ateliers (Pieter Coeck, Joos van Cleve, etc.) and basically indicates a conception of the work of art as produced in two phases, a first theoretical conceived by the Master and a second one often realized by his students. In the best examples, like this one, the Master of the Parrot shows a delicate style, a wise synthesis between the Bruges tradition - still archaic - and the innovations of plasticism and the use of light that Pieter Coeck, Jan Gossaert and Quantyn Metsys were gradually introducing into the flemish painting of Antwerp. The pearly complexion, the intimate mother-son relationship and the meticulous details of the crown accentuate the refined devotional and symbolic tone, thanks to the contribution of the dark background from which the figures emerge as in a sacred vision.
Pieter Neefs the ElderNight Interior of a Church with Figures
Oil on panel
1636.Pieter Neefs is the Flemish painter of church interiors “par excellence”. These interiors are inspired by the Cathedral of Antwerp, but they are often a free reinterpretation, where real and imaginary elements are recombined, with the use of a slightly raised point of view and a carefully calculated architectural perspective. The scene is set in a nocturnal context, leaving the airy emptiness of the high naves illuminated by some candles, which give a very special atmosphere to the environment, rich in emotional accents. The walls are bare, with no decoration whatsoever, for historical reasons: following the spread of Protestantism and the consequent "iconoclastic fury" which invested Antwerp at the end of the sixteenth Century, many of the sacred vestments were destroyed, as were the altarpieces and decorative wall paintings, and this up to the decorative revival of the Rubensian-style mature Baroque. The figures, which were usually added at a later point to the finished painting, are by Frans Francken III, who often collaborated with the Neefs in compositions of this kind.
Cornelis van PoelenburghThe Feast of the Gods
Oil on panel
We would like to thank Professor Marcel Roethlisberger for confirming the authorship of the work.The subject was very successful and several variants are known, including a very similar one currently kept at the Mauritshuis of The Hague. The artist sets the episode in a minimalist context, imagining the scene as a classic frieze emerging from dense yet essential clouds. An exquisite silver light connotes the environment, giving it class and refinement, while the plasticity of the figures clearly indicates the anatomical conception of the "ancient" developed in Holland, also through the mediation of Abraham Bloemaert, and that will find wide development in classicists of Caravaggio style like Salomon de Bray and Pieter de Grebber. The main divinities are all there, each with his/her sign of recognition: Jupiter, on the left in red cloth and lightning; Bacchus contemplating an elegant glass of wine; Mars with the helmet, sitting at the table; Neptune in blue drape, sitting on the water amphora and with the trident in his hand; Juno, Venus and Cupid on the extreme right in yellow cloth, with a peacock beside them.
David VinckboonsWooden landscape with religious scene
oil on panel
exhibition “Cielo, Terra e Acque. Il paesaggio nella pittura fiamminga e olandese tra Cinquecento e Seicento” curated by G. Sciolla, Aosta 2007.
published: “David Vinckboons” ,Klaus Ertz, Lingen 2016. Cat nr. 36 pp. 324 e 325.Masterly proof of the author: the very high quality level allows the work to be placed at the top of the Vinckboons production, here in its moment of maximum closeness to Jan Brueghel the Elder. Chronologically, the painting is still ascribable to the first activity period, when the artist left Antwerp following the religious persecutions carried out by the Spaniards and moved into the German Middelburg together with other painters, such as Gillis van Conincxloo and the Savery brothers. They came to form what is known as the "School of Frankenthal", a particular artistic current of landscape painters, active between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The school, of which Vinckboons was among the best exponents, is famous for having created a unique and peculiar type of landscape, often identified with the Flemish landscape par excellence, with a strongly idealized and intellectualistic approach: the landscapes are imaginary and deliberately distant from a yield naturally realistic, according to a concept that aims to transfer the sophisticated and international style of late Mannerist and “Proto-Baroque” figurative painting into the landscape genre. Our painting represents an anthological proof of affiliation: beyond the marginal insertion of the Gospel episode (the healing of the hemorrhage), primary protagonist is Nature understood as an ideal concept. In the thickness of an emerald wood, which envelops everything and overshadows, small figures of shepherds, hunters and travelers move, while some animals emerge among the intricate fronds of immense secular trees or from the dark and mysterious depths of the undergrowth, where humidity and atmosphere seems palpable, arcane and vivid as in a fantasy tale. The feeble light that penetrates from the branches, then, is used as an expedient to stage infinite variations of green, at such level that we could read the picture as an authentic essay of chromatic virtuosity, under the banner of a love and an understanding for the landscape genre, which is an indisputable specialty of Flemish art.