Frans Wouters (Lier 1612-1659 Antwerp)
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Frans Wouters (Lier 1612-1659 Antwerp)

The Three Graces

Frans Wouters (Lier 1612-1659 Antwerp)
The Three Graces
oil on panel
18 x 13¼ in. (45.7 x 33.6 cm.)
stamped on the reverse with the coat-of-arms of the City of Antwerp and the panel maker's mark
Anonymous Sale; Rheims, 13 December 1963, lot 63.
Anonymous Sale; Sotheby's, New York, 30 January 1998, lot 74.
With Robert Noortman, Maastricht, 1998, acquired by
Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann (inventory no. A-86).
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

The artist initially trained under Pieter van Avont before moving in 1634 to Rubens' studio, where he may have worked on the decorations for the Pompa introitus Ferdinandi. He became a master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke in 1634/5, shortly afterwards travelling to Vienna, where he entered the service of the Emperor Ferdinand II. By early 1637, however, he was in England, working on various commissions for King Charles I, including ceiling paintings with mythological themes.
By 1641 Wouters had returned to Antwerp, where, in his capacity as a dealer, he assisted in the valuation of the paintings from Rubens' estate. He was also involved in the sale of the Duke of Buckingham's collection by the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1648. At about the same time Wouters began to work for Archduke Leopold William. Wouters' style and subject-matter are closely linked to the taste of his clients: the small format of his paintings, their decorative landscape compositions and largely mythological staffage were in popular demand amongst the international aristocratic circle that formed the basis of his clientele.

Another painting of the same subject by Wouters, of very similar composition and signed with initials, was sold, Christie's, New York, 12 October 1989, lot 198 ($16,500). The central figure, and the basket, are repeated in Wouters' Mercury and Herse, dated 1635, sold, 20 January 1983, Sotheby's, New York, lot 3; in addition, the handling of the figures compares closely with that of Andromeda in his Perseus and Andromeda in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy.

The panel maker's mark on the reverse is probably that of Franchois I De Bout, a panel maker mentioned in the registers of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke (see J. van Damme, 'De Antwerpse tefereelmalers en hun merken', Jaarboek, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 1990, p. 221, fig. 11).

The attribution was confirmed in 1998 by Dr. Frans Baudouin.

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