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    Sale 7633

    Old Master & British Pictures (Day Sale)

    3 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 129

    Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael (Utrecht 1566-1638)

    The Apotheosis of Venus and Diana

    Price Realised  


    Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael (Utrecht 1566-1638)
    The Apotheosis of Venus and Diana
    signed (?) with monogram 'JW f' (lower left, on the stone)
    oil on canvas
    82½ x 62¾ in. (209.8 x 159.3 cm.)

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    This large, monogrammed canvas is considered by Anne W. Lowenthal (ibid.) to be Joachim Wtewael's earliest known picture, executed when the artist was in France, circa 1590-1592.

    As Lowenthal notes, the picture's authorship was first recognised by Frits Lugt, and is supported by comparison with other works from the 1590s, as well as the monogram, in which the 'letters are formed as in his other signatures.' Comparisons can be readily made with other works by Wtewael of the 1590s. Lowenthal points out the figure of Minerva in Parnassus (ibid., no. A-3) as a miniature version of Venus in pose and type; and the draperies, with broad flat areas broken by sharp folds, resemble those in his Meeting of David and Abigail (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, ibid., no. A-5; and the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, ibid., no. A-6).

    Although today we tend to think of Wtewael as mainly excelling in works executed on a (virtually) miniature scale, throughout his life he also produced works on a grand scale, indicating both an appreciation and a strong demand for both. Indeed Carel van Mander was to remark already in 1604, that one could not easily say where Wtewael 'is more excellent, whether in large or in small works, which is a sign of having very good judgment and understanding, and is not a very common thing among painters' (Lowenthal, ibid., p. 77).

    Lowenthal has also demonstrated the importance of the Utrecht artist Anthonis Blocklandt, for Wtewael's early work. Wtewael would have seen his work while in the Utrecht studio of his master, the rather enigmatic artist and collector Joos de Beer (d. 1583). Blocklandt had been a pupil of Frans Floris in Antwerp from 1550 to 1552 and made a brief trip to Italy in 1572. Taking Blocklandt's Venus and Cupid (Prague, Národni Galerie) as typical of the kind of picture that would have had a strong influence on him, Lowenthal notes that Wtewael's 'smooth-bodied goddesses and the curvaceous little Cupid...if not closely modeled... strongly reflect its style, and on a comparably grand scale.'

    Equally strong in this picture, is the influence of First School of Fontainebleau. The depiction of the goddesses of love and hunting was prominent in that and other châteaux at the time. Diana was particularly popular, reflecting the importance of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II. The pose and attitude of Diana in the anonymous School of Fontainebleau composition of her as Huntress, now in the Louvre, bears close comparison with the same goddess in this canvas (see ibid., p. 77).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Jean de Coustin de Masnadaud, château de Sazeirat, Marsac, from whom purchased by the late husband of the current owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the revised estimate is GBP 70,000-100,000.

    Pre-Lot Text



    A.W. Lowenthal, Joachim Wtewael and Dutch Mannerism, Groningen, 1986, pp. 39, 42-3, 73, 77, no A-I, pl. 2, 3 and col. pl. I.