7 July 2009
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN (Lots 10 & 40)
Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp)
The Payment of Tithes
signed 'P. BREUGHEL' (lower left)
oil on panel
21 5/8 x 34¼ in. (55 x 87 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 12 January 1994, lot 71.
with Galerie d'Art Saint Honoré, Paris.
Private collection, France.
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K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere, Lingen, 1998/2000, I, p. 514, no. E511 and p. 507, pl. 371.
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Breughel-Brueghel, Een Vlaamse schildersfamilie rond 1600, 1998, no. 142.
This lot is sold with a copy of a certificate by Dr. Klaus Ertz, dated 9 September 1994, confirming the attribution, and describing the picture as 'one of the best examples on this theme'. He dates the picture to circa 1620, noting that the type of signature (P. BREVGHEL rather than P. BRVEGHEL) was used in pictures painted in or after 1616, and compares it to the relatively smaller format versions of the subject in the Groeningemuseum, Bruges and the Castle Museum in Norwich.
This composition is unusual in Pieter II's oeuvre in that it is neither a direct copy of one of his father's compositions nor an adaptation of a Bruegel-like composition by one of his father's contemporaries - such as Martin van Cleve - or close followers. Indeed the Payment of Tithes is noticeably different from Pieter I's compositional, figural and facial types, and its derivation has therefore been the subject of much discussion. One suggestion has been that the lost prototype was French. Indeed the calendar on the wall is written in French, although this was at the time the language of the legal profession in the Netherlands, and the peasants' short beards, close-cropped hair and costumes were of a type not seen at the time in the Southern Netherlands. Klaus Ertz in his 2000 catalogue raisonné of Brueghel's work hypothesised that the original prototype might be a lost painting by the French artist Nicolas Baullery (1560-1630).
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