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A landscape with lightning

A landscape with lightning
signed in monogram ‘DT . F .’ (lower center, on the rocky outcropping )
oil on panel
6 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (16.5 x 28.5 cm.)
[Sold by the Order of the Executors of Mrs. Heywood Johnstone, deceased, late of Bignor Park, Pilborough]; Christie's, London, 20 February 1925, lot 94, as D. Teniers (33 gns. to Raham).
Anonymous sale; Galerie Fischer, Luzern, 6 July 1925, lot 271.
Charles Kiefer-Hablitzel, Dreilinden Castle, Luzern, by whom donated in 1951 to,
Kunstmuseum Luzern (inv. no. 461), by whom deaccessioned in 1983.
Private collection, Bonn.
with Jack Kilgore & Co., Inc., New York and Salomon Lilian Old Master Paintings, Amsterdam, where acquired by the present owner in 2009.
T. Grütter and M. Kunz, Kunstmuseum Luzern: Sammlungskatalog der Gemälde / Permanent Collection of Paintings, Luzern, Luzern, 1983, p. 38, fig. 11.
Cologne, Klaus Edel Gallery, Ausstellung Gemälde alter Meister, 9 November-4 December 1987, no. 16.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Joshua Glazer
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Lot Essay

Though known today largely for his genre paintings, David Teniers painted a number of landscapes in the 1640s in Antwerp and early 1650s in Brussels. Teniers moved to Brussels in 1650, having been named court painter to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm and keeper of his collection. On account of the use of muted tones and Teniers’ treatment of the figures, this painting has traditionally been dated to the early 1650s, contemporaneous with one of the artist’s greatest successes in this genre, the Landscape with castle and gentlefolk in the Szépmuvészeti Múzeum, Budapest (fig. 1). The paintings share dramatic cloud formations pierced by light, the prominent castle rising above the landscape and the gesticulating figures in the foreground. In both instances, these figures provide the only source of local color in the compositions.

Only a handful of Dutch and Flemish artists, among them Jan van Goyen (1642; Christie’s, London, 5 July 2007, lot 12) and Aelbert Cuyp (c. 1645; Emil Bührle collection, Zürich), took on the technically difficult task of capturing a landscape illuminated by a momentary flash of lightning. Fewer still rendered it so successfully and with such freshness of touch as Teniers has here. The delicate coloring and subtle perception of nature evident in his small landscapes lends them a distinctive charm, one that made them extremely popular with French collectors in the eighteenth century. Depending on the time of day depicted, they were given names like ‘Après-Midi’ and ‘Après-Dîner’. The painter, collector and dealer Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun famously described in his Galerie des Peintres Flamands, Hollandais, et Allemands (Paris and Amsterdam, 1792-96), albeit with a romantic flourish, the charm and magnetic appeal of these little paintings:

‘Teniers’ “Afternoons” are well-known; they are little pictures with few figures that he usually did in the afternoon, in order to relax after the large compositions he worked on in the morning. He intended them for his friends, whom he could not satisfy otherwise’ (quoted in Klinge, op. cit., p. 216, under no. 74).

At the time the owner acquired the work, it was accompanied by a letter from Margret Klinge dated 3 February 1986 endorsing the attribution. We are grateful to Fred Meijer for endorsing the attribution on the basis of photographs. He has proposed the panel dates to a somewhat later period in Teniers' career than has previously been suggested, dating it to circa 1660.

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