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    Sale 7743

    Old Masters & 19th Century Art Evening Sale

    7 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 40

    Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp)

    The Bird Trap

    Price Realised  


    Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp)
    The Bird Trap
    oil on panel transferred to canvas
    14½ x 21¼ in. (37.5 x 54 cm.)

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    The composition is one of the most enduringly popular of the Brueghel family. The prototype is often thought to be the painting in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; however, as Klaus Ertz points out in his recent monograph on Pieter Brueghel II (op. cit., p. 576), the attribution of that work to Pieter Bruegel I, whose signature and date it bears, is not beyond dispute. He believes, instead, that the prototype may be a lost work by Jan Brueghel I, inspired by his father's famous Hunters in the Snow of 1565 (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum).

    The distinctive beauty of the composition derives from the introduction of the unusual bird trap theme above the view of villagers at play on the ice - a scene inspired by that in the middle ground of the Hunters in the Snow. Ertz describes it as a simple, genre-like landscape; however, this to a degree underestimates the inventiveness and originality displayed in the as-yet-unidentified protoype. It has been suggested that the underlying subject of the picture is the precariousness of life, with the obliviousness of the birds towards the threat of the trap mirrored by the carefree play of the skaters upon the fragile ice. In the catalogue of the exhibition Le Siècle de Brueghel (Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, 27 September-24 November 1963, p. 69) Georges Marlier identified the village depicted as Pede-Ste-Anne in Brabant.

    This lot is sold with a copy of a certificate by Dr. Klaus Ertz, dated 5 November 1989, confirming the attribution.

    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.


    Rosenthal (according to Ertz, loc .cit.).
    Thomé, Altena (according to Marlier, loc. cit.).
    with de Boer, Amsterdam, 1934.
    Herzberger, Aerdenhout, 1963.
    with de Jonckheere, Paris, 1984.
    Private collection, Belgium, 1986.
    with Galerie d'Art St. Honoré, 1986-7.
    Private collection, France.

    Pre-Lot Text



    G. Marlier, Pierre Brueghel le Jeune, 1969, p. 244, no. 12 (très bel exemplaire').
    K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere, Lingen, 1998/2000, II, p. 608, no. E700, as painted before 1616.


    Laren, Singer Museum, Modernen van Toen 1570-1630, Vlaamse schilderkunst en haar invloed, 1963, no. 62, fig. 24.
    Dordrecht, 1964, no. 15.
    Galerie Charpentier, Plaisirs de la campagne (according to a label on the reverse).