Jan van Kessel I (Antwerp 1626-1679)
Property from a Belgian Private collection
Jan van Kessel I (Antwerp 1626-1679)

Allegory of air

Details
Jan van Kessel I (Antwerp 1626-1679)
Allegory of air
signed with monogram 'IVK' (lower left)
oil on copper, inset
5 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. (14.2 x 19.3 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Tajan, Paris, 19 June 2001, lot 23.
Literature
K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan van Kessel: Kritisch Katalogue der Gemälde, Lingen, 2012, p. 202, no. 163, illustrated.

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Lucy Cox
Lucy Cox

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Lot Essay

This wonderfully detailed work can be understood in the context of the 17th century Wunderkammer, the ‘cabinet of wonders’. These encyclopaedic collections of objects ranged over categories such as natural history, geology, archaeology and religion. Seen as microcosms of the world, these were created to be studied with the aim of furthering scientific and historical knowledge. Symbolically, they marked their owners as powerful men with control over the world around them. In this visually engaging work, van Kessel collects together different varieties of winged creatures, from the proudly plumed peacock to the large-eared bat and the elegant dragonfly. Painted with meticulous precision, this work would thus have been prized both for its aesthetic value and the avenues of intellectual exploration it might have suggested to the inquisitive viewer.

We are grateful to Dr. Fred Meijer for confirming the attribution upon first-hand inspection.
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