JAN BREUGHEL THE ELDER (BRUSSELS 1568-1625 ANTWERP)
JAN BREUGHEL THE ELDER (BRUSSELS 1568-1625 ANTWERP)
JAN BREUGHEL THE ELDER (BRUSSELS 1568-1625 ANTWERP)
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JAN BREUGHEL THE ELDER (BRUSSELS 1568-1625 ANTWERP)

Wooded landscape with travellers

Details
JAN BREUGHEL THE ELDER (BRUSSELS 1568-1625 ANTWERP)
Wooded landscape with travellers
dated and signed '.1611.BRVEGHEL' (lower right)
oil on copper, with the plate maker's mark of Pieter Staas
6 3/8 x 9 in. (16.2 x 22.8 cm.)
Provenance
Private collection, England.
with Edward Speelman, London, 1979.
Private collection, Munich.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 10 July 1998, lot 12, when acquired.
Literature
G. van Gehren, 'Jan Brueghel der Ältere', Weltkunst, XLIX, 14, 1979, p. 1760.
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, die Gemälde, mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Cologne, 1979, pp. 87, 89-90, 153 and 596, no. 233, figs. 170 (colour), 77, 83 and 84 (details).
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, Cologne, 1981, p. 108, fig. 28.
M. Padrón, El siglo de Rubens en el Museo del Prado: Catálogo Razonado de Pintura Flamenca del Siglo XVII, Barcelona, 1995, I, p. 202, under no. 1433, illustrated.
Weltkunst, LXVIII, 6, June 1998, p. 1287, illustrated.
K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, die Gemälde, mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Lingen, 2008, I, p. 188-190, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Brod Gallery, Jan Brueghel the Elder, A Loan Exhibition of Paintings, 21 June-20 July 1979, no. 27 (with entry by K. Ertz).
Cologne, Josef Haubrich Kunsthalle, Wahre Wunder, Sammler und Sammlungen im Rheinland, 5 November 2000-1 February 2001, no. C 11.
Special notice
This lot has been imported 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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Lot Essay

Jan Breughel the Elder’s celebrated views of roads receding through villages and forests, populated by travellers, horses and carts, codified the existing formulae of northern European landscape painting into fully resolved compositions. Building on the work of his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder and earlier Flemish painters such as Paul Bril, his novel contributions to the genre go further than any other northern master.
Intimate in scale, beautifully preserved and full of refined detail, this painting lies firmly within the group of landscapes Breughel created in the years between 1600 and 1619, when his greatest experiments with space, setting and perspective were made. The finest of this group are usually painted on copper and marked on the reverse with the stamp of the artist’s most trusted copper plate-maker, Pieter Staas, as is the case with this work. Woodland settings lent themselves beautifully to Breughel’s refined technique and meticulous brushwork; through his intricately rendered foliage, he could impart the jewel-like qualities for which he continues to be so prized, and for which he earned the sobriquet Fluweleen Brueghel (Velvet Brueghel) amongst his contemporaries.
From a slightly elevated viewpoint, the composition opens to a country road and stream, lined by dense woodland, receding into the distance. The viewer is granted a window into the routines and pitfalls of daily village life: travellers make their way through the scene in carts, on horseback or on foot, the dress of those in the foreground painted with vivid reds and blues, in contrast to the transparently painted figures walking into the distance. In the foreground, a cart with a broken axle threatens to tumble onto its side, a man desperately trying to keep it upright. This motif may in fact be unique in Breughel’s oeuvre. On the right, however, are the familiar figures of a seated dog and a solitary man on horseback observing the scene, who reappear frequently in his woodland landscapes. By combining new experiments in space and composition with refined brushwork and a keen focus on the quotidian life of his village subjects, Breughel created a novel and far-reaching formula for the northern landscape genre.

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