PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)
PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)
PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)
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PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY OF A DUTCH NOBLE FAMILY
PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)

Summer; Winter

Details
PIETER BRUEGHEL, THE YOUNGER (BRUSSELS 1564/65-1637/38 ANTWERP)
Summer; Winter
each signed '.P.BREVGHEL.' (lower right)
oil on panel
9 5/8 in. (24.5 cm.) diameter
(2)a pair
Provenance
By descent in a Dutch Noble family for several generations.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Previously unpublished and unknown to scholars, this beautifully preserved pair of roundels constitute an exciting new addition to the corpus of paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, particularly since both compositions are fundamentally unique. The Peasant Dance is a singular variation of a rare subject, known in six other autograph versions, two of which also adopt a circular format. The Winter landscape is completely without precedent. Both are carefully underdrawn and executed with a level of finesse associated with his very best work. The configuration of the signatures, where the artist spells his surname ‘BREVGHEL’, rather than 'BRVEGHEL’ indicates a date after 1616 when he changed the spelling in an effort to distinguish himself from his father (see K. Ertz, Breughel-Brueghel: Une famille des peintres flamands vers 1600, exhibition catalogue, Antwerp, 1998, p. 19).
The two paintings, which have remained within the collection of the same noble family for generations, may be read as representations of Summer and Winter, in which the artist uses a contemporary village setting to contrast the revelry of high summer with the harsher reality of a cold winter. In the first, Brueghel fills the composition with a delightful cast of vibrantly-attired figures in dynamic poses. The central figural groupings and many of the landscape elements, including the merry dancers who encircle the tree in the foreground and the combatants who fight with sabers in the distance, also appear in a larger panel in the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbrück (27 x 37.5 cm.; see K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere (1564-1637/38): Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Lingen, 1988/2000, II, no. 1191). That painting is signed and dated ‘1634’ and evokes Brueghel’s Maypole composition through the inclusion of a crown, which is seen in the uppermost branches of the tree. Brueghel chose not to include the crown in the roundel, adding instead two attractive birds perched on neighbouring branches. Also seen in the Innsbrück panel is the couple with a wine jug, who stumbles towards the tree at left, although the meticulously rendered flock of birds on the ground nearby appears to be an invention for the present composition. Finally, the dancing couple and amorous figures at right in the Innsbrück panel are here replaced by a woman who comforts her companion, who is ill from too much revelry and drink.
Though Brueghel painted travellers walking through villages in the snow on many occasions, variants of the Winter roundel are harder to identify. A similar street is found in two panels in a Viennese and Parisian collection, respectively, both of which feature the same distinctive, triangularly-shaped house (see ibid., nos. 662 and 663). This suggests that Brueghel may have relied on a drawing that was kept in his studio to create his setting. Notably, these other paintings portray warmer seasons, and the staffage is completely different, making this roundel the sole surviving example of this composition.
A similar pairing of Summer and Winter roundels, albeit on a smaller format, was sold at Christie’s, New York, 9 January 1981, lots 18 and 19.

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