Attributed to the Master of the Liège Disciples at Emmaus (possibly Jan van Amstel) (active Antwerp, mid-16th century)
PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN NOBLE FAMILY (LOTS 110, 226, 228 AND 247)
Attributed to the Master of the Liège Disciples at Emmaus (possibly Jan van Amstel) (active Antwerp, mid-16th century)

Leda and her children in a mountainous landscape with Saint Antony Abbot and the centaur beyond

Details
Attributed to the Master of the Liège Disciples at Emmaus (possibly Jan van Amstel) (active Antwerp, mid-16th century)
Leda and her children in a mountainous landscape with Saint Antony Abbot and the centaur beyond
with the owl device of Herri met de Bles (lower centre)
oil on panel
16 ¼ x 22 1/8 in. (41 x 56.1 cm.)
with inventory number '707' (lower left)
Provenance
(Probably) Recorded in the 1693 inventory of Giovanni Battista Borghese, Principe di Rossano (1639-1717), Palazzo Borghese, Rome, as ‘un quadro in tavola alto due palmi in circa con una Donna nuda a sedere con tre puttini attorno con altre figurine del No 707 con cornice dorata dell'autore Civetta’.
Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner.
Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, 1945, inv. 4, whence restituted to the father of the present owner in 1993.

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Maja Markovic

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Lot Essay

This panel originally showed Saints Anthony Abbot and Paul the Hermit (clearly visible in infrared reflectographs) being fed with a loaf of bread brought by the crow which can still be seen descending from the left of the picture. Further elements of their vitae can still be seen across the background of the panel. Saint Anthony Abbot, for example, is shown at the right of the panel speaking to the centaur he encountered during his journey through the wilderness to find Saint Paul the Hermit, an event described by Jacobus da Voragine in his famed Golden Legend. Early in the picture’s history, the saints were overpainted and replaced by a depiction of Leda and her children. Seduced by Zeus in the guise of a swan, Leda gave birth (shown here hatching from eggs) to the twins Castor and Pollox, and Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, the future wife of Agamemnon.

Named after a landscape in the Musée d'Art religieux et d'Art mosan, Liège, the Master of the Liège Disciples at Emmaus remains a mysterious figure, working in Antwerp during the mid-sixteenth century. He may be identifiable with the Antwerp painter Jam van Amstel (c. 1500-1542), the brother of Pieter Aertsen and cousin-by-marriage of Pieter Coecke van Aelst. The owl which appears in the lower right of the present work, was the signature typically employed by the landscapist Herri met de Bles and thus is likely here a later addition, probably added at around the time the picture was attributed to the artist in the Borghese inventory.

We are grateful to Dr. Luc Serck for suggesting the attribution in 2012 on the basis of photographs.
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