David Teniers I (Antwerp 1582-1649)
The Property of a Descendant of Evence III Coppée
David Teniers I (Antwerp 1582-1649)

The Meeting of Jacob and Laban

David Teniers I (Antwerp 1582-1649)
The Meeting of Jacob and Laban
signed and dated '·DAVID TENIER INVENTOR ET FECIT·1636·' (lower centre)
oil on oak panel, the reverse stamped with the coat-of-arms of the city of Antwerp
51 1/8 x 90 ½ in. (130 x 230 cm.)
de Verrue (1670-1736); her sale (†), Paris, 27 March 1737 [=1st day], lot 45, as ‘Un grand Tableau de Teniers representant l’histoire de
Jacob’ (1,215 francs).
Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield (1755-1815), Chesterfield House, Mayfair, London, where recorded in his inventory of 1815 (PRO C112/186), and by descent to,
George Stanhope, 7th Earl of Chesterfield (1831-1871), and by inheritance to his mother,
Anne Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Chesterfield (1802–1885); (†) Christie’s, London, 31 May 1918, lot 74, as ‘D. Teniers and L. van
Uden, Abraham and Lot Dividing their Flocks’ (100 gns. to Cohen).
Lambiotte collection; Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels, 12 March 1927, lot 70, when acquired by Baron Evence III Coppee (1882-1945), Brussels, Belgium, and by descent to the present owner.
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, London, 1831, III, p. 276, no. 54.
E. Duverger and H. Vlieghe, David Teniers der Ältere: Ein vergessener flämischer nachfolger Adam Elsheimers, Utrecht, 1971, pp. 46 and 76, fig. 36.
F. Russell, ‘Canaletto and Joli at Chesterfield House’, The Burlington Magazine, CXL, no. 1025, August 1988, p. 629, in the Dining Room, ‘The Parting of Abraham and Lot by Teniers’.
S. Leclercq, et al., La Collection Coppée, Brussels, 1991, p. 117.
Tokyo, Tobu Museum of Art, The World of Bruegel: the Coppée Collection and Eleven International Museums, 28 March-25 June 1995, no. F27.

Lot Essay

Signed and dated ‘1636’, this is one of the largest and most ambitious works in the oeuvre of David Teniers the Elder. Teniers was born in Antwerp and, after a period spent in Rubens’s workshop, travelled to Rome where he practised in the studio of the German born Adam Elsheimer, an artist whose work had an enduring influence on his own. By 1609, Teniers had returned to his native city and enlisted as a member of the Guild of St Luke. Teniers’s independent career is somewhat difficult to reconstruct in its entirety; given the prolific output of his son, David Teniers the Younger, whose style and choice of subject relied heavily on the example set by his father, it is sometimes hard to disentangle the work of father and son. However, the large-scale panels of religious and mythological scenes, painted by Teniers the Elder stand as a testament to both his skill as a painter and as an inventor of dynamic history paintings, as he proudly inscribes on the present work.

The scene represents a moment in the Biblical story of Jacob, here shown wearing a red fur-lined hat, short red robe and blue cloak, and Laban, richly dressed in cloth-of-gold with a white turban, recorded in Genesis, chapters 29-32. The story relates how Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebekah, fled Canaan to seek refuge with his maternal uncle Laban. It goes on to describe his marriages to Laban’s daughters Leah and Rachel, the children he had by them and his eventual return to his native land. The story evidently appealed to Teniers as he had already tackled another episode from the same Old Testament story in 1633. In this earlier picture, Teniers depicted the moment at which Laban divided his livestock with Jacob in recognition of his services (Antwerp, Maagdenhuis), and this picture is similarly signed ‘DAVID TENIER INVENTOR ET FECIT’. After fourteen years working among his uncle’s flocks, Jacob was rewarded with all the ‘ringstraked, speckled and grisled’ animals in Laban’s herds. Teniers depicts Laban and Jacob standing centrally in the composition, dressed much the same as they appear in the present work, overseeing the separation of the animals with marked hides from those of pure colouring. The large drinking trough at the right of this composition refers to the subsequent events in the story when Jacob, with divine guidance, laid stripped reeds in the waters, miraculously resulting in all the offspring of Laban’s flocks being born with speckled or striped skins and thus becoming Jacob’s possession. Given the traveller’s stick held by Jacob in the present painting (as opposed to the large shepherd’s crook he holds in Laban dividing his flocks) it seems logical to assume that this picture shows the moment of Jacob’s arrival with his uncle’s family. The elegantly dressed young woman behind Laban, therefore, may be taken as Rachel, Jacob’s initial incentive to work for his uncle being to win her hand.

This painting is first recorded in the sale of pictures from the collection of Jeanne-Baptiste d’Albert de Luynes, Comtesse de Verrue (1670-1736), held the year after her death, in 1737. The Comtesse de Verrue was one of the most prestigious and important collectors in early 18th-century France, amassing a vast collection of paintings, furniture, jewellery, tapestries and books. This painting is later recorded in the collection of the 7th Earl of Chesterfield and was sold at Christie’s in 1918.

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