Hendrick ter Brugghen
(The Hague 1588-1629 Utrecht)
Hendrick ter Brugghen
(The Hague 1588-1629 Utrecht)
Hendrick ter Brugghen
(The Hague 1588-1629 Utrecht)
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Property from an Important Private Collection
Hendrick ter Brugghen (The Hague 1588-1629 Utrecht)

Democritus and Heraclitus

Hendrick ter Brugghen
(The Hague 1588-1629 Utrecht)
Democritus and Heraclitus
oil on canvas
36 5/8 x 43 ¾ in. (93 x 111 cm.)
John Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby (1664-1736), Knowsley Hall, Merseyside, and by descent in the family to the following,
Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby (1841-1908); (†), Christie’s, London, 27 May 1909, lot 65, as ‘Spanish School’.
(Probably) Anonymous sale; Kende, Vienna, 21-22 October 1918, lot 20, as 'Caravaggio'.
Ole Olsen, Copenhagen; his sale, Winkel & Magnussen, Copenhagen, 5-8 May 1943, lot 13.
Private collection, Denmark, 1943.
Anonymous sale; Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 7-21 May 1969, lot 530.
with Trafalgar Galleries, London, by 1973.
Ginsberg collection, South Africa, until 1989.
Sir Charles Blomefield, Clapton Manor, Clapton, Gloucestershire, 1989.
with Spencer A. Samuels and Company, Santa Monica, 1992.
Private collection, United Kingdom.
with Jack Kilgore & Co., New York, 1994.
Private collection, The Netherlands.
with Jack Kilgore & Co., New York, 2005, from whom acquired by the present owner.
Catalogue of Derby Pictures, 1736, no. 93, as ‘Bruggens’.
G. Scharf, A Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures at Knowsley Hall, London, 1875, pp. 185-6, no. 356, as ‘Attributed to Bruggens’.
V. Winkel and Magnussen, eds., Kunst i Privat Eje, Copenhagen, 1944-1945, I, p. 71, illustrated.
B. Nicolson, Hendrick Terbrugghen, London, 1958, p. 46, no. B79, pl. 101b.
A. Blankert, ‘Heraclitus and Democritus; in het bijzonder in de Nederlandse kunst van de zeventiende eeuw’, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, XVIII, 1967, p. 102, no. 41, as 'Attributed to Hendrick ter Brugghen'.
B. Nicolson, ‘Terbrugghen since 1960’, in Album Amicorum J.G. van Gelder, E. de Jongh, ed., The Hague, 1973, pp. 238, 240, as ‘an indisputable original’.
In the Light of Caravaggio, exhibition catalogue, London, 1976, p. 21.
B. Nicolson, The International Caravaggesque Movement: Lists of Pictures by Caravaggio and His Followers throughout Europe from 1590 to 1650, Oxford, 1979, p. 98.
A. Tzeutschler Lurie, ‘The Weeping Heraclitus by Hendrick Terbrugghen in the Cleveland Museum of Art’, The Burlington Magazine, CXXI, 1979, p. 279, fig. 5.
L.J. Slatkes, ‘Review of Benedict Nicolson, The International Caravaggesque Movement’, Simiolus, XII, 1981-1982, p. 182.
European Paintings of the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries: Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 1982, p. 278, fig. 123a.
L.J. Slatkes, ‘Het werk van Hendrick ter Brugghen’, in Nieuw Licht op de Gouden Eeuw: Hendrick ter Brugghen en tijdgenoten, exhibition catalogue, 1986, p. 49.
Nieuw Licht op de Gouden Eeuw: Hendrick ter Brugghen en tijdgenoten, exhibition catalogue, 1986, p. 98, under nos. 6-9 (entry by L.J. Slatkes).
L.J. Slatkes, ‘Rethinking ter Brugghen’s Early Chronology’, in Hendrick ter Brugghen und die Nachfolger Caravaggios in Holland, R. Klessmann, ed., Braunschweig, 1988, p. 81.
B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, L. Vertova, ed., Turin, 1989, I, p. 189; III, fig. 1134.
J.A. Spicer and L. Federle Orr, Masters of Light: Dutch Painters in Utrecht during the Golden Age, exhibition catalogue, New Haven and London, 1997-1998, pp. 201, 203, under nos. 23 and 24, fig. 1 (entry by L.J. Slatkes).
J. Bikker, G. Papi, N. Spinosa, eds., Collezione Koelliker, French, Dutch and Flemish Caravaggesque paintings, Torino, 2005, pp. 26-28, illustrated.
L.J. Slatkes and W. Franits, The Paintings of Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1588-1629, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, 2007, pp. 136-137, no. A39, fig. 38, pl. VII.
London, Trafalgar Galleries, Trafalgar Galleries at the Royal Academy: Old Master Paintings, 1977, no. 29.
London, Robilant + Voena, The International Caravaggesque Movement: French, Dutch, and Flemish Caravaggesque Paintings from the Koelliker Collection, 20 June-15 July 2005 (entry by J. Bikker).

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Lot Essay

This is an important early work by Hendrick ter Brugghen, whose attribution was first established by Benedict Nicolson in 1958 (op. cit.) and subsequently endorsed by every principal scholar in the field. It is generally dated to 1618-19, at which time Ter Brugghen was the only Caravaggesque painter active in Utrecht who had actually been to Italy and experienced the work of Caravaggio at first hand. He is thought to have travelled south in 1607, spending seven years in Italy – predominantly in Rome – before returning home, via Milan, in 1614. Although Caravaggio had left Rome by the time Ter Brugghen arrived, he is still often cited as the only Dutch disciple of the Caravaggio who was active there during his lifetime.
Ter Brugghen’s choice of subject was indebted to his Italian education. Democritus and Heraclitus were among the most important pre-Socratic philosophers who, according to Cicero and other Roman sources, viewed the human condition in two contrasting ways: Heraclitus, known as the ‘dark’, with pity and compassion and a perpetually sad demeanour; and Democritus, the laughing philosopher, with amusement at the absurdity of life. The pair became popular subjects in Dutch art after 1620, often depicted with a globe representing the world. Ter Brugghen’s globe is animated by what appears to be a wild Caravaggesque tavern scene emblematic of the frivolity of human existence. The prominent inclusion of the bone in the lower foreground serves to further underscore the vanitas themes inherent to the subject.
Ter Brugghen repurposed the figure of the weeping philosopher, Heraclitus, in his Saint Jerome contemplating a skull, which is signed and dated 1621 (fig. 1; Cleveland Museum of Art). That the Cleveland picture post-dates Democritus and Heraclitus is confirmed by the numerous pentimenti in the latter. The model may equally be the same as that used for the seated figure at far right in the Calling of Saint Matthew of circa 1618-19 (Le Havre, Musée des Beaux-Arts André-Malraux).

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