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Flemish School, early 17th Century
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Flemish School, early 17th Century

Months of the Year

Details
Flemish School, early 17th Century
Months of the Year
oil on panel
9 x 12 in. (22.9 x 30.5 cm.)
A set of ten (10)
Provenance
George Wilbraham, Delamore House, Northwick, Cheshire; Christie's, London, 18 July 1930, lot 5, as Jan Brueghel, a set of 12 (520 guineas to Goudstikker).
with Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam.
Looted by the Nazi authorities, July 1940.
Recovered by the Allies, 1945 (two missing).
in the custody of the Dutch Government.
Restituted in February 2006 to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker.
Literature
E. van Sraaten, Koud tot op het bot. De vebeelding van de winter in de zestiende en zeventiende eeuw in de Nederlanden, The Hague, 1977, pp. 14-9, illustrated.
Old Master Paintings: An illustrated summary catalogue, Rijksdienst Beelende Kunst (The Netherlandish Office for the Fine Arts), The Hague, 1992, p. 58, nos. 340-9, illustrated, as follower of Pieter Bruegel I.
Exhibited
Kasteel Nyenrode, 1936, no. 153.
's-Hertogenbosch, Noordbrabants Museum, on loan since 1953.
's-Hertogenbosch, Noordbrabants Museum, Dominicus van Soest. Aardse paradijzen. De tuin in de Nederlande kunst 15e tot 18e eeuw, 1996, nos. 109 (March) and 113 (May); and the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem.
Aranjuez, Palacio del Real Sitio de Aranjuez, Felipe II, El rey intimo, Jardin y Naturalez en el siglo XVI, 1998, nos. 216 (March) and 217 (May).
Gent, Museum voor industriele archeologie, Tuinen van Eden van kaizer Karel tot heden, 20 April-25 June 2000.
's-Hertogenbosch, Noordbrabants Museum, De vier jaargetijden in de kunst van de Nederlanden 1500-1750, 21 December 2002-21 April 2003, nos. 19-28; and the Stedelijk Museum Van der Kelen-Mertens, Leuven.
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

The artistic representation of the months of the year derives from the early Middle Ages when it was customary to decorate calenders in illustrated manuscripts with the signs of the Zodiac and the Labours of the Months, to indicate Man's toil on earth and the passing of terrestrial time. These became a commonplace feature of Romanesque and Gothic church decoration, often forming part of the iconographic programme on the portal sculpture of their west façades, as well as appearing on capitals. In the later Middle Ages the decoration of Books of Hours afforded artists the space and freedom to develop the theme of the Months, placing a variety of figures performing everyday activities in evocative landscapes.

Perhaps the most famous treatment of this theme is the celebrated series of The Seasons painted by Pieter Bruegel the elder for Nicolaas Jonghelinck in 1565-6. Bruegel executed a total of six works, each representing two months at a time: Hunters in the Snow (January/February); The Gloomy Day (March/April); and The Return of the Herd (November/December) are all in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; The Corn Harvest (September/October) is in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Hay Making (July/August) is in the National Gallery, Prague; while the location of the sixth (May/June) is currently unknown. Bruegel's masterpieces formed the basis for many subsequent versions of the Months, and the present series is clearly inspired by these works. When Jacques Goudstikker purchased them at Christie's, London on 18th July 1930 they were a set of twelve, however, when they were recovered by the Allies in 1945, two panels (representing the months of December and February) were missing, and they are offered here as a set of ten.

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