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    Sale 2237

    The Scholars Eye: Property from the Julius Held Collection Part I

    27 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    Paul Bril (Antwerp c. 1554-1626 Rome)

    A landscape with shepherds and their flocks

    Price Realised  


    Paul Bril (Antwerp c. 1554-1626 Rome)
    A landscape with shepherds and their flocks
    oil on copper
    5 x 6½ in. (12.7 x 16.5 cm.)

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    The present idyllic landscape, in which two shepherds lead their flock through a sunlit river landscape, was first given to Bril by Charles Sterling. Though it dates from later in Bril's career, the flatter, italianate landscape and low horizon are tempered by the dark and gnarled trees in the foreground, which function as a repoussoir device in the Flemish tradition. Infrared reflectography reveals an interesting change to the composition, which originally featured three figures underneath the trees at right where only one is now visible. Perhaps by reducing the number of figures Bril intended to focus the viewer's attention on the grandeur of the landscape, with the figure of a lone traveler nearly lost in shadow beneath the leafy overhang.

    Stylistically, the present landscape can be closely compared with a copper in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court (see C. White, The Later Flemish Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 2007, pp. 57-59, no. 5). Also comparable are a landscape on copper in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich (inv. 1084), and a painting sold at Christie's in New York (27 January 2000, lot 3).

    We are grateful to Dr. Luuk Pijl for confirming the attribution to Bril, and for his assistance with the above catalogue entry. Dr. Pijl suggests a date of circa 1620 for the present work.


    Anonymous sale; Plaza Art Galleries, New York, circa 1938.


    Northampton, The Smith College Museum of Art, Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Julius S. Held, 1-27 October 1968, no. 15.
    Worcester, Worcester Art Museum, The Collector's Cabinet: Flemish Paintings from New England Private Collections, 6 November 1983 - 29 January 1984, no. 6.
    New York, Richard L. Feigen & Co., Landscape Painting in Rome 1595-1675, 1985, no. 14.