Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)
5 More
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)
8 More
Property from a Distinguished European Collection
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)

An Allegory of Winter

Details
LUCAS VAN VALCKENBORCH I (LEUVEN AFTER 1535-1597 FRANKFURT AM MAIN) AND GEORG FLEGEL (OLMÜTZ 1566-1638 FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN)
An Allegory of Winter
signed and dated ‘1595 / L / VV’ (lower left, on the trough)
oil on canvas
48 ½ x 75 ¼ in. (123 x 191 cm.)
Provenance
Schloß Altenburg, by 1823 and (probably) sold in 1925.
with H.S. Nienhuis, Amsterdam, by 1954.
Private collection, The Netherlands, by 1960.
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 29 November 1974, lot 38.
Tomas Fischer, Djursholm, Sweden.
with Adam Williams Fine Art, New York, where acquired by the present owner circa 2000.
Literature
M. Löbe, Das Herzogliche Residenz-Schloß zu Altenburg, Altenburg, 1875, p. 59, as hanging in the entrance hall.
T. von Frimmel, ‘Eine Reihe von Jahreszeiten-Bildern von Lucas van Valckenborch,‘ Blätter für Gemäldekunde, I, 1905, p. 111.
A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, II, Vienna and Leipzig, 1910, p. 740.
U. Thieme and F. Becker, eds., Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1940, p. 50.
L.J. Bol, ‘Een Middelburgse Brueghel-groep,’ Oud Holland, LXX, 1955, p. 13, note 60.
W.J.M. Müller, Der Maler Georg Flegel und die Anfänge des Stillebens, Frankfurt am Main, 1956, pp. 87-88, where speculated that the still life elements are by Georg Flegel.
L.J. Bol, The Bosschaert Dynasty: Painters of Flowers and Fruits, Leigh-on-Sea, 1960, p. 25.
H.S. Seifertová, ‘Tempores Anni Lucas van Valckenborch,’ Umeni, XXII, 1974, p. 326, fig. 3.
I.B. Bergström, ‘George Flegel als Meister des Blumenstücks,‘ Westfalen, Hefte für Geschichte, Kunst und Volkskunde, LV, 1977, p. 136.
I. B. Bergström, ‘Lucas van Valckenborch in collaboration with George Flegel,’ Tableau: Tijdschrift voor beeldende Kunst, V, February 1983, p. 322, fig. 6.
G. Cavalli-Björkman, ‘A fishmarket by Joachim Beukelaer,’ Konsthistorisk tidskrift / Konsthistoriska Sällskapet, LV, 1986, p. 120, fig. 9.
A. Wied, Lucas und Marten van Valckenborch (1535-1597 und 1534-1612): Das Gesamtwerk mit kritischem Œuvrekatalog, Freren, 1990, pp. 23, 35-36, 41, 174-175, no. 77, fig. 77.
A. Wied, ‘Nachträge zu Lucas und Marten van Valckenborch,‘ Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums, VI, 2004, p. 125, no. 77.
Exhibited
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Bruegels tid: Nederländsk konst, 1540-1620, 21 September 1984-6 January 1985, no. 146.
Frankfurt am Main, Historisches Museum, Georg Flegel, 1566-1638: Stilleben, 18 December 1993-13 February 1994, no. 7.
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, on loan, 2001-2021.

Brought to you by

Francois de Poortere
Francois de Poortere International Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Boldly composed and imposingly scaled, this painting is a striking testament to the manner in which van Valckenborch revolutionized the tradition of market scenes in the final decade of the sixteenth century. Such images had been pioneered by Pieter Aertsen and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer in the preceding decades and frequently featured religious scenes in the background as a means of providing a moralizing gloss on the foreground scene. By contrast, van Valckenborch’s market scenes are noteworthy for their synthesis of the foreground still life elements and topographical landscape into a unified, wholly secular composition. As such, van Valckenborch’s market scenes constitute a considerable development in the field of genre painting.

A pair of well-heeled, porcelain-skinned young women in black satin and cartwheel ruffs have recently stopped at a market stall. One holds a bunch of onions in her hand as she inclines her body slightly forward to rest a wicker basket with ham hocks on a wooden table. On the other side, a drably dressed fishmonger raises a meat cleaver as he parcels out filets of fish and a young woman (his wife?) displays the day’s haul. Four troughs of fish arranged haphazardly across the foreground theatrically position the painting’s viewer as another customer awaiting the proprietor’s assistance. In the deeply receding background, a lively cityscape with a horse-drawn sleigh, skaters and tradesmen are viewed through a screen of dappled snowfall.

In 1974, Hana Seifertová identified the cityscape in the background as a free rendering of the St. Leonhard’s Quay in Frankfurt on account of its similarities with a print by Matthäus Merian (fig. 1; loc. cit.). The same view, with changes, also appears in the background of an allegory of Autumn dated a year earlier that is believed to have been started while van Valckenborch was resident in Linz as court painter to Archduke Matthias (1557-1619), governor of the Spanish Netherlands, and completed upon the artist’s move to Frankfurt in or around 1593 (fig. 2; sold Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021, lot 48; Wied, op. cit., no. 65). When Autumn featured in an exhibition at the Galerie Stern in Düsseldorf in 1934 – Wied (loc. cit.) incorrectly stated the present painting was exhibited – the cityscape was identified as Passau.

The present painting once formed part of one of at least four large-scale series of allegorical representations of the Four Seasons executed by van Valckenborch between 1592 and 1597, for which nine paintings survive today. Aside from two somewhat larger paintings – a Summer, dated 1592, in Castolovice Castle (Wied, op. cit., no. 62) and the aforementioned Autumn – the other seven were painted on canvases of almost identical size. One of these cycles, traditionally thought to include the larger-scale Summer and Autumn, was in the collection of Archduke Ernst of Austria (1553-1595), where they were described in a 1595 inventory as ‘Vier grosze Stuck auf Lainwath die vier anni temporibus’ (see Seifertová, loc. cit.). According to the most recent and generally agreed upon reconstruction of these series proposed by Alexander Wied in his catalogue raisonné, the present depiction of Winter belongs to the only complete cycle to have come down to us. Wied hypothesized that the painting was conceived as part of a series that also included a Spring (fig. 3; formerly Tomas Fischer, Djursholm, Sweden; Wied, op. cit., no. 74), Summer and Autumn (figs. 4 and 5; both Slovenská Národná Galéria, Bratislava; Wied, op. cit., nos. 75 and 76).

An earlier reconstruction of the cycle proposed in 1905 by the Austrian art historian Theodor von Frimmel, who had seen the present painting at Schloß Altenburg, held that it and the Spring from the same collection formed a series with a painting of Summer, then in a French private collection (untraced), and an Autumn, which had erroneously been attributed to Beuckelaer when it was in the Tweitmayer collection in Leipzig (loc. cit.; Wied, op. cit., no. 78). Von Frimmel’s reconstruction could no longer be sustained following the emergence of the two paintings now in Bratislava from a Czech private collection in 1977. It then became clear that the ex-Tweitmayer ‘Autumn’ was instead an autograph replica of the Summer now in Bratislava. In any event, the series as reconstructed by Wied must have been separated relatively early in its history, for only the present painting and Spring were described together when they were first documented in a handwritten 1823 inventory of the collection at Schloß Altenburg.

Though the paintings were unknown to him, on the basis of the 1823 inventory descriptions Wolfgang J. Müller first proposed that the still life elements of the present Winter and the ex-Fischer Spring were among the earliest surviving works by van Valckenborch’s talented assistant, Georg Flegel (loc. cit.). More recently, Wied likewise countenanced the possibility of Flegel’s involvement in these and other market scenes and suggested that the flowers, glasses and cacti in Spring as well as the pieces of meat and fish in Winter are quite possibly the work of the younger artist (op. cit., pp. 36, 41, 172, under no. 74). Similarly, at the time of the 1993-1994 exhibition, the still life elements were definitively give to Flegel (loc. cit.).

A second, unsigned and undated version of this painting belonging to a later cycle of the Four Seasons is in an Antwerp private collection (Wied, op. cit., no. 79).

More from Old Master Paintings and Sculpture

View All
View All