• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7633

    Old Master & British Pictures (Day Sale)

    3 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 130

    Pauwels Franck, called Paolo Fiammingo (Antwerp? c. 1540-1596)

    The Age of Bronze; and The Age of Iron

    Price Realised  


    Pauwels Franck, called Paolo Fiammingo (Antwerp? c. 1540-1596)
    The Age of Bronze; and The Age of Iron
    oil on canvas
    50 x 76 in. (128.2 x 195 cm.)
    a pair (2)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Like his fellow Antwerp artist Marten de Vos, Paolo Fiammingo travelled to Venice where he became an assistant in Tintoretto's workshop, specialising in landscape backgrounds. However, unlike de Vos, Paolo remained in Venice, opening a successful studio of his own there. From 1580 he produced several series of paintings for Hans Fugger (1531-1598), the heir of the German banking dynasty, to decorate Schloss Kirchheim near Augsburg, which became the family's summer residence. Amongst Paolo's commissions from Fugger was a series depicting The Four Ages of Man.

    The iconography derives from The Four Ages of Man, as described in Ovid's Metamorphoses (I:89-150), in which the earthly paradise of the Golden Age descends through the Silver Age and Bronze Age ('when cruel people inclined to arms but not to impious crimes') into the strife and greed of the war-like Iron Age, placed by Ovid before the Flood.

    As noted by Stefania Mason Rinaldi ('Paolo Fiammingo', in Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte, xi, 1978, p. 77), documents show the first two canvases from that series (The Age of Gold and The Age of Silver) to have been completed by 1582, whilst by 1615, all four paintings were recorded in the hall before the Zedernsaal at Kirchheim. The series is listed by Mason Rinaldi under 'opere perdute', however a close workshop variation of The Age of Bronze is published by her in the Fugger Collection, Kircheim, as representing 'il commercio' (in addition to a copy in the Mauren-Brecher Collection, Cologne; ibid. pp. 61 and 174, fig. 35), suggesting that that may instead be one of the lost series, by extrapolation of workshop quality, of two of which the present works represent the prime, autograph compositions.

    Professor Ugo Ruggeri has confirmed the attribution, having examined the pictures in the original.

    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.