This magnificent chimney-piece relates to numerous designs for chemines in Daniel Marot's (1661-1752) Nouvelles Chemines Panneaux de Glace la Manre de France, Nouveaux Livre de Chemines la Hollandoise and Nouvelles Chemines faites en plusieur endroits de la Hollande et autre Provinces, which were published between 1703 and 1715. Marot introduced the Louis XIV court style of 1680s, which was probably most admired in The Hague, where the Stadholder's court and foreign embassies were based. Numerous monumental chimney-pieces in this 'Marot style' were made for the elegant mansions around the Hofvijver and on the neighbouring avenues. A closely related chimney-piece, with virtually identical cresting and drapery and panelled sides, previously at the residence of Jonkheer Loudon on the Koninginnegracht in The Hague, is illustrated in C. Jonge W. Vogelsang, Hollndische Mbel und Raumkunst von 1650-1780, The Hague, 1922, p. 57, fig. 99.
The picture in this magnificent chimney-piece is a characteristic work for the artist, who was the most succesful decoration painter in Groningen in the second half of the 18th Century. He was the successor to Herman Collenius (1650-1723), who in the previous generation had had considerable success with decoration schemes for the Groningen Patriciate. See for a review of his oeuvre F.J. Veldman, Herman Collenius 1650-1723, exhibition catalogue, Groningen 1997. Wassenbergh, member of a family of painters, for which see C. Boschma et. al., "De familie Wassenbergh" in Zeven in n klap, exhibition catalogue, Leeuwarden en Den Bosch 1978,pp.19-22, must have followed in Collenius's footsteps. As with Collenius, the style remains classisist. Whereas Collenius drew his inspiration from the painter Gerard de Lairesse, who had settled in Amsterdam by 1672, Wassenbergh sought connection with the city of Rotterdam and especially with Adriaen van der Werff, with whom he took his apprenticeship. The latter's influence is apparent in the present lot. Wassenbergh's activity must have been extensive. However, only a small number of works are known today. Among this group, the most important is the picture of Bacchus and Ariadne, set into a comparable Marot style chimneypiece, in the Rijksmuseum (photograph in the RKD, The Hague).
The present picture shows the famous pair of lovers from mythology, Atalanta and Meleager. Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, VIII:260-546, recalls their story. Meleager was the son of a King of Calydon, who had offended the Goddess Diana. To wrath this act, Diana sent a wild boar to ravage the land of Calydon. Meleager and he beloved Atalanta set out to hunt it. In the present lot the moment is depicted where Meleager presents the head and pelt of the boar to his beloved.