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Attributed to Crispin van den Broeck (Mechelen 1523-1589/91 Antwerp)
Attributed to Crispin van den Broeck (Mechelen 1523-1589/91 Antwerp)

The Judgement of Seleucus

Attributed to Crispin van den Broeck (Mechelen 1523-1589/91 Antwerp) The Judgement of Seleucus oil on panel 72¾ x 95¼ in. (184.8 x 242 cm.)

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Seleucus, the lawgiver of a Greek colony in southern Italy in the seventh century B.C., found himself called upon to pronounce judgement on his son who had been accused of adultery, for which the punishment was blinding in both eyes. The verdict was guilty. The citizens, out of regard for his father, offered to revoke the penalty, but Seleucus, determined to satisfy the letter of the law, which he had himself promulgated, had one of his son's and of his own eyes plucked out before the people. The story is told by Valerius Maximus, De Factis Dictisque Memorabilibus Libri (VI: 5), which by the sixteenth century was popular even in school curricula. The action of Seleucus was seen as an exemplum of Justice and a rendering of it would have been appropriate for a Town Hall (see, E.McGrath, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, XIII, (1), Rubens Subjects from History, I, ed. A. Balis, London, 1997, pp. 42 and 45). The present work, granted its size and view point, may well have been intended to be displayed above eye level in an aulic chamber. An early example of the rare treatment of the subject is by Raphael in the Stanza della Segnatura (see G. Gronau, Raffael, K.der K., Stuttgart and Berlin, 1919, p. 73 right), and, north of the Alps, by Hans Holbein the Younger for the Great Council Chamber of the Basle Town Hall (see P. Ganz, The Paintings of Hans Holbein, London, 1950, no. 170 and fig. 49).

There are apparently few extant paintings by van den Broeck, a pupil of Frans Floris, with which it is possible to make a comparison. However, the handling seems not unlike that in the Last Judgement, of 1560, in the Brussels museum. The Renaissance style architecture was probably inspired by the work of Hans Vredeman de Vries.


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