Jan Wildens (Antwerp 1585/6-1653)
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Jan Wildens (Antwerp 1585/6-1653)

A wooded landscape

Details
Jan Wildens (Antwerp 1585/6-1653)
A wooded landscape
oil on canvas
46 x 68 in. (116.8 x 172.8 cm.)
Provenance
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792) at Luton Park, Bedfordshire, by 1776, when recorded there by Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl of Exeter ('A landscape by Gio: Wildens at L.d Bute's', in his interleaved copy of P.A. Orlandi, Abecedario Pittorico, Venice, 1753 [Burghley House]), and by descent at Luton and elsewhere.
The Bute Collection; Christie's, London, 3 July 1996, lot 140, when acquired by the present owner.
Literature
G.F. Waagen, Works of Art and Artists in England, London, 1838, p. 369, 'Wildens - A very beautiful landscape by this scholar of Rubens, which, in conception and treatment, has some resemblance with the older style of Breughel and Savary'.
G.F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, London, 1854, III, p. 480.
W. Alder, Jan Wildens der Landschaftsmitarbeiter des Rubens, Fridingen, 1980, p. 106, no. G57, pl. 84.
F. Russell, John, 3rd Earl of Bute: Patron and Collector, London, 2004, p. 193.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Lot Essay

Adler dated this majestic wooded landscape to the 1640s (op. cit.), when Wildens was increasingly turning his attentions to painting pure landscapes. Previously to this, the artist had invested a lot of his energies in providing landscape backdrops for other established Flemish painters, most notably Sir Peter Paul Rubens, with whom he had collaborated since 1616, providing backgrounds for many of the designs for Rubens’ Decius Mus tapestry series. Wildens’ decision to focus on pure landscape painting may in part have been prompted by Rubens’ death in 1640 and the appearance on the market of many of his innovative later landscapes, which he had kept in his own private collection. Indeed, this work exhibits the same vibrant light and sketchy character found in many of Rubens’ own later works. Wildens continued to collaborate with figure painters, the staffage in this painting is likely to have been painted by Hans Jordaens III.

A note on the provenance: This painting once formed part of the celebrated Bute collection at Luton Park. John, 3rd Earl of Bute, a Scottish peer, was an extremely important political figure in Britain during the eighteenth century. Having moved to London during the Jacobite rebellion, he soon became a close associate of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales (1707-1751). After the prince’s death, the education of his son, George, later King George III, became a matter of pressing importance and, in 1755, Bute was appointed as his tutor. In 1760, Bute was elected the country’s de facto Prime Minister, ending the Whig majority which had been in place since 1721. The earl commissioned the construction of his house at Luton from Robert Adam in 1767, and was living there by 1774. This painting remained in the family until its sale, in these Rooms, in 1996.

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