The present lot consists of five near contemporary copies of the series of paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens in the Prado; the dimensions of the paintings more or less correspond. The paintings in the present series are accepted as the work of Jan Brueghel the Younger by Ertz, loc. cit.; however, like the prototypes, they may well be works of collaboration, as the personifications and accompanying putti are probably by a copyist of Rubens as Ertz observed. The copyist has yet to be identified. While it is reasonable to assume that only two artists (and chiefly Jan Brueghel the Younger) were responsible for Touch, Hearing, Taste and Smell, it is possible that a third collaborator executed the larger figures in the fictive paintings and the statues in the main room in Sight.
Two of the Prado set are dated 1617 and 1618; as building work at Mariemont took place in 1617-1618 (see under Hearing below) it is possible that Hearing, which shows the castle with the building work completed, was executed a little later. At all events it seems unlikely that the present copies were made contemporaneously with the originals, in which case -- as the period of activity of the panel maker (1612/13-1638?) is irrelevant -- it is probable that Jan Brueghel the Younger made the copies after his return from Italy in 1625 where he had been since 1622.
The originals are listed in the inventory of the Alcázar of 1636 (see Díaz-Padrón, op. cit., 1975, p. 42); this provides a terminus ante quem for the execution of the present copies which were painted in Antwerp. The inventory stated that the set was given by the Duke of Neuberg to the Cardinal Infant Ferdinand. This Duke of Neuberg was in all probability the Count Palatine and Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm von der Pfalz-Neuberg, who converted to Roman Catholicism and thus became a key ally of the Spaniards as the ruler of the Duchy of Cleves. The Duchy had been united with the Duchy of Jülich and constituted the main point of friction between the Habsburgs and the Dutch during the Twelve Years' Truce.
It is not known when the Duke acquired the Prado series. The obvious references to the Archducal couple, Albert and Isabella, the joint-sovereigns of the Netherlands, in the paintings, make it likely that the set was executed for them, and that it was given to the Duke for raisons d'état. If the information provided in the Alcázar inventory that the Duke, who died in 1628, gave the series to the Cardinal Infant is correct, it must be assumed that it was sent to the Cardinal Infant, who was then in Spain, via Antwerp, where the copies were made. The set would have had to reach Spain before 10 April 1633 to allow time for the Cardinal Infant to give it to the Duke of Medina de las Torres (as the inventory recorded), for on that day, the Cardinal Infant left Spain for the Netherlands via Genoa. Ertz (loc. cit.) has dated the series, presumably on stylistic grounds, to 'shortly after 1626'.
It seems likely that the present set was a special commission; the identity of Jan Brueghel the Younger's patron is not known. No certain trace of it has yet been found in Antwerp inventories of the seventeenth century (although a full search has still to be made); the first reference to it is only of 1720 when it was in the possession in Vienna of the Emperor Charles VI. Probably its first owner was a cleric, as dictates of decency had required that the personifications should be covered. He may also have owned Rubens's Virgin and Child in Berlin, a copy of which was substituted for that in the garland of flowers in the right foreground of Sight (fig. 1).
The sequence of the series followed here is that proposed by Klaus Ertz (Jan Brueghel Der Ältere, etc., 1979, pp. 329-332). An alternative arrangement might be Sight, Taste, Hearing, Smell, Touch.
The series follows the Netherlandish tradition of executing sets of, for instance, the Seasons, Months of the Year or the Elements. An immediate precedent in Antwerp was Martin de Vos's designs of the Five Senses (C. Schuckman, Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts etc., XLIV, Rotterdam, 1996, nos. 1491-1495). Brueghel and Rubens, however, transformed the tradition by adapting to it the Antwerp fashions for depicting collector's cabinets, the theme of the Forge of Vulcan, as used by Jan Brueghel himself to illustrate the Element of Fire, the market scene as developed by Joachim Beuckelaer, and renderings of Spring as first evolved by his father, or more appositely of Spring by, for instance, Lucas van Valkenborch and Georg Flegel.
The Prado series is to be compared with two large paintings by Jan Breughel the Elder and collaborators, also in the same museum. The main protagonists - personifications of the Five Senses - are from the circle of Rubens. These contain many of the motifs found in the present series. For a recent discussion of the two larger paintings, see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., nos. 17 and 19.
For further discussion see under the separate commentaries below.
The setting is a collector's cabinet with an adjacent, barrel-vaulted gallery to the right; an arch to the left opens onto a terrace with a fountain, beyond is the Archducal residence in Brussels, the Coudenberg Palace or the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant, with its park, Le Warrande, in which are riders, a falconer and seated ladies.
A great accumulation of works of art - metalwork, prints, books, medals, jewelry, scientific instruments, paintings, classical and modern statuary, porcelain and tapestry - are on display. They surround a female figure, the personification of Sight, who, seated at a table, studies a painting proffered by a putto.
In the foreground, left, is a folded tapestry, the top part of which is turned back; beside is a pile of books, manuscripts and prints.
On the table, covered by an early seventeenth-century Isfahan carpet behind the personification of Sight, are jewelry, coins or medals, a Chinese (?) bowl mounted with a handle, and a silver-gilt cup and cover on a casket. Nearby is a double portrait propped against an open, decorated Antwerp cabinet, on which stands an armillary sphere and a vase of flowers. To the left is a display of metalwork and pottery; beyond, hanging on the wall, is a contemporaneous Brussels tapestry with a floral border. In the center left, hanging from the ceiling, is a candelabra decorated with the Habsburg double eagle. In the center, is a display of statues beneath a large painting. Stacked beneath are six paintings, mostly framed, of which at least one is on canvas. In the right foreground, is a basket of shells, from which three have fallen. In the gallery beyond are some large statues.
The present work differs from the Prado prototype in that the personification is clothed in a diaphanous shift and wears a jeweled armband. The putto has red drapery around his thighs. The plans on the table, left, differ and the instrument immediately above is not clearly inscribed. Omitted is the pair of dividers on the floor by the globe, two statuettes on the shelves above, and Jan Brueghel the Elder's signature and date 1617. A different depiction of the Virgin and Child painting without the angel has been substituted in the large painting in the right foreground.
Beside the personification is a terrier; nearby is a monkey and a toy spaniel, to the right a parrot sits on the frame of a painting, beyond is a hound.
For an account of Coudenberg Palace, see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., under no. 22. The view is nearly sideways on and omits the arched façade built by the Emperor Charles V. At the far end is the chapel built by Charles V between 1526-1533, and the roof of the aula magna built by Philip the Good between 1452-1460, in which the abdication of Charles V took place.
Reading from the top left, the scientific instruments (all of which are gilt-brass unless otherwise stated) are to be identified as follows. On the cabinet, is an armillary sphere, Flemish, circa, 1590. On the draped table in front of the double portrait, are a circular, ivory compass sundial with folding gnomen; behind it, a Dutch calendar-box; and in front of it, at the table's edge, a balance; to the right behind the personification is a standing magnifier.
On the wooden topped, six-sided table, reading from the back are: a pocket, universal, equinoctial compass sundial, Flemish circa 1580; a Mordenti compass (of which a similar - if not identical - example made in Antwerp in 1591, was offered at Christie's South Kensington, 8 April 1998, lot 67), callipers with a gunner's level and rule beneath; silver dividers, and near the front, a graphometer (a surveying instrument) with plans beneath.
Leaning against the table is a cross staff (for nautical navigation); nearby, on the floor, is a Flemish astrolable and a Flemish, complex trigonometer. Beneath the feet of the personification, is a very rare proportional compass made in the manner of Jost Burgi (1552-1632; to be compared with that offered at Christie's South Kensington, 14 April 1988, lot 120). Next is a telescope, silver mounted with horn and a gilt-bronze stand; beneath are nose spectacles, one with silver, the other with whalebone frames. The monkey nearby also holds nose spectacles. Center right, is a terrestrial globe, probably by W. Blau.
The statuary on the shelves and in the far gallery may be described as follows. On the top shelf, reading from the left: a couple embracing, as yet unidentified; maquettes for Aurora in the Medici Chapel, the Heroic Captive in the Louvre, the Dying Captive in the Louvre, Crepuscolo in the Medici Chapel, these last four by or after Michelangelo.
Middle shelf; antique busts of the Emperor Vitellius and the Emperor Nero (see M. van der Meulen, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, III, Rubens Copies after the Antique, II, p. 150, under no. 130, and p. 129, under no. 114a); an antique bust of Laocoon, (see van der Meulen, op. cit., pp. 99-100, under no. 84); followed by further busts of which two are barely visible, the others remain unidentified.
Lower shelf (most of which remain unidentified): an antique head of a woman; a standing naked woman; an antique bust of the Emperor Aurelius (see van der Meulen, op. cit., I, p. 144 and note 64, and fig. 85); an antique head of a woman; a naked figure; an antique head of a woman; a female (?) figure; an antique head of an elderly man; a naked man; a grieving woman; an antique head and shoulders of a woman; a maquette after the antique sculpture of The Wrestlers (see van der Meulen, op. cit., p. 135, under no. 117); an antique bust of Marcus Julius Brutus (see van der Meulen, op. cit., p. 118, under no. 108).
On the floor: the head and shoulders of a young man in armour, as yet unidentified.
In the far gallery, reading from the right: an antique scuplture of Venus (?) on a plinth; a standing child on a plinth, four herms (two of which resemble Hippocrates and Plato, according to van der Meulen op. cit., I, p. 143); an antique (?) sculpture of a standing man on a plinth; an antique sculpture of Pan instructing Daphnis (for which see van der Meulen, op. cit., II, p. 104, under no. 94).
The paintings on display in the Prado original have been mostly described by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., pp. 117-125, to which reference should be made for further information). What follows chiefly derives from their account, as does the key-plan (fig. 2). The term 'prototype' used below usually refers not to the rendering in the immediate prototype - the Prado painting - but to the prototype from which the rendering in that painting was made directly or indirectly.
Following the order of the key-plan, the paintings can be described as follows. 1) Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel VI; and Apocryphal additions to Daniel, vv. 23-42), of which only the bottom right hand section is visible; the prototype by Rubens is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. 2) Venus and Psyche (?); the prototype is a lost composition by Titian known from an engraving by Matham. 3) A Lion and Tiger Hunt; the prototype by Rubens is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes. 4) (Tapestry) Psyche and Jupiter. 5) Portraits of the Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, the Governors of the Netherlands; no such double portrait is known to exist: Vlieghe suggests that the prototypes by Rubens are lost (see H. Vlieghe, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, XIX (II), Rubens Portraits of Identified Sitters painted in Antwerp, 1987, nos. 64 & 65). 6) Christ healing the Blind Man (John IV, vv. 1-7); the prototype is not known, but could have been the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder and executed specifically for inclusion in the Prado original. 7) A Landscape (?); 8) The Blind leading the Blind (Matthew XV, v. 14); a prototype, by Sebastian Vrancx, is in a private collection, Madrid (for which see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., no. 10). 9) Portrait of a Man in Armour; the prototype, said to be the work of Domenico Mancini, is lost; another copy appears in the Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest by W. van Haecht in the Rubenshuis (rep. by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., no. 26.) 10) Saint Cecilia; the prototype by Raphael is in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna. 11) The Resurrection; the prototype has not been identified. 12) Genre scene (?); the prototype, perhaps in the style of Lucas van Leyden, has not been identified. 13/14) A triptych, half open, showing the Resurrection (?) and Saint Andrew. 15) The Virgin and Child in a Garland; the prototype is a combination of two different pictures: the garland derives from that in the joint painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Rubens in the Louvre (see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., p. 122, fig. 75), while the Virgin and Child derives from that by Rubens in another work of collaboration with Jan Brueghel the Elder in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (see M. Jaffé, Catalogo Completo, Rubens, 1989, no. 770). 16) A Still Life of Grapes in a Basket; the prototype has not been traced, but may have been the work of Frans Snyders. 17) The Angel appearing to the Shepherds (Luke II, vv. 8-14), of which only the top left hand part is visible; the prototype was probably the work of Hendrick van Balen; the detail showing the angel recurs in oblong format on the lid of the harpsichord in Hearing; a painting in the same format is in the Muséo Jovellanos, Gijón (rep. by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., no. 13). 18) A Seascape; the prototype has not been traced but would appear to have been in the style of Hendrick Cornelis Vroom. 19) An Equestrian Portrait of the Archduke Albert; the prototype by Rubens is apparently lost (see Vlieghe, op. cit., no. 58). 20) The Virgin and Child, the prototype has not been traced. 21) A Study of a Butterfly and a Plant; the prototype probably by Jan Brueghel the Elder has not been traced. 22) A wooded Landscape; the prototype is not dissimilar from the Deerhunt in a wood by Jan Brueghel the Elder at Schloss Ambrach, near Innsbruck (for which see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, p. 101, fig. 92a). 23) A Fishmarket; the prototype attributed to Joachim Beuckelaer may have been the picture offered at the Galerie Fievez, Brussels, 8 April 1930 (for which see P. Verbraecken, exh. cat., Joachim Beuckelaer, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent, 1986-1987, p. 140, note 4, p. 141, and fig. 3, ibid.). 24) The March of Silenus; the prototype by Rubens is in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
The paintings in the farther gallery are not easy to decipher, as some have only been very sketchily indicated. Others have been left blank. In the top right, beyond the draped curtain, is a Personification of Painting (?), the prototype of which is as yet unidentified; beneath to the left is a Pièta, the prototype for which may have been inspired by Rubens, cf. The Lamentation in Antwerp, (which is in reverse; for which see J.R. Judson, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, VI, The Passion of Christ, 2000, no. 64).
The Prado original is one of Jan Brueghel the Elder's most complex works. Ertz (op. cit., 1979, pp. 332ff.) provides an extended excursus of its inner and higher meanings. Ertz, like Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., p. 116) are the last authorities to identify the main protagonists as Venus and Cupid, but this seems unnecessary. The source for the choice of the subject of the painting studied by the personification - Christ healing the blind man - may have been Martin de Vos's engraved design for Sight (see above), in which this miracle is depicted in the background.
The composition suggests the influence of depictions of collector's cabinets then becoming fashionable in Antwerp. Brueghel had probably participated in the execution of what has been thought to be the earliest rendering of this theme: that signed and dated 1612 by Frans Francken the Younger, which was offered at Christie's, London, 12 December 1999, lot 7. Brueghel's earliest such extant depiction of a Habsburg candelabra seems to have been in the Element of Fire of 1608 in the Ambrosiana (for which see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, no. 190, fig. 445).
The setting is a draped and decorated armorer's shop near a foundry beneath the Palatine Hill in Rome.
On the right, the personification of Touch kisses Cupid, identifiable by his quiver of arrows. Beside is a draped table on which are various instruments, a still life of roses and an unframed painting on a stand. Beneath the table are a monkey and a tortoise, and a propped up painting. Nearby are more instruments, and a bowl of grapes by a pile of deeds. Behind are, first, a partition on which hang a tapestry and paintings, and then a wall, in which are recesses for the display of suits of armor and pieces of weaponry, two of which are revealed by withdrawn curtains. On the left, is an extended array of suits and armor and weapons; three scorpions are in the foreground. Beyond in a ruinous, vaulted passage-way, cannon, with blacksmiths at work nearby, and a man beating a fallen donkey beyond. Above is a bird of prey with its victim.
The present work differs from the prototype chiefly in the drapery covering the personification and Cupid. Omitted are the poles beside the recesses displaying suits of armor.
The armor and weaponry can be identified as follows. The plumed armor in the lower left corner as well as the suits above it and the three suits in the middleground recesses are Flemish Stechzeuge jousting armor, of late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century date. An armor of very similar form and construction, which possibly belonged to Maximillian I or his son Philip the Fair, is in the Hofjgagd-und Rüstkammer, Vienna (Inv. no. S.11). The pile of armor is comprised of disassembled field armors, in both blackened and polished finishes, for horsemen, probably pistoleers or light cavalry. Some of the suits have decoration in the Italian manner (embossed volutes of the shoulders and chest) and date from the end of the sixteenth century. The suit on the stand, which lacks its leg harness and left gauntlet, is Kempfküriss armor, probably Flemish, circa 1500. The bottom edge of the skirt has a decorative band that includes St. Andrew's crosses together with flints and flames, symbols of the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece, which along with the helmet are also preserved in the Hofjagd und Rüstkammer, Vienna (Inv. no. B.23), and also may have belonged to either Maximilian I or Philip the Fair.
Below and to the right of the suit on the stand, lies an etched and gilded Milanese half-armor, circa 1585, comprised of a dipped, peascod breastplate with broad, laminated tassets, and arm defenses with a gauntlet and a gorget isolated to the left; for a similar suit of armor see Rubens's Portrait of Ambrogio Spinola in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick (fig. 3; Jaffé, op. cit., no. 887). Nearby lies a windlass, a mechanical aid used to wind the large upright crossbow nearby, while just behind is a stonebow, used for hunting small game.
In the upper recess in the right middle ground, as well as in the bottom recess on either side of the central suit, would appear to be blackened armor with red textile trim, probably Flemish and made for an officer of the infantry.
In Brussels and Antwerp, both Brueghels had first-hand access to regional and imported arms and armor of various types and quality, and worked such pieces into their compositions. It has been suggested that the arms and armor shown here were from the collection of the Palace of Coudenberg (see Sight above); the earlier pieces, such as the jousting and the foot combat armor, may have been held in the Royal armory in Brussels.
On the table are various surgical instruments - forceps and extractors; on the floor leaning against the table is an amputation saw, nearby is a cautery iron (to cauterise wounds) lying on a steelyard (a measure) and weight. To the left of the personification, is a mobile brazier with the Antwerp branding iron of a hand.
The carpet, center right, is Ushak, late sixteenth century (see A. Scarpa Sonino, op. cit., 1992, p. 26).
Most of the paintings in the Prado original have been discussed by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., pp. 132-133), to which reference should be made for further information. In the abbreviated account below, the term 'prototype' usually refers not to the rendering in the immediate prototype - the Prado painting - but to the prototype from which the rendering in that painting was made directly or indirectly.
Reading from the top of the partition, the paintings can be described as follows: a Hell, the prototype was perhaps the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder and executed uniquely for the Prado original. Beneath is a Flagellation, the prototype of which is Dürer's engraving in The Small Passion; next is an oval Operation at Night, of which the prototype has not been traced, but was perhaps by Pieter Brueghel the Elder; on the right is the Defeat of Sennacherib (II Chronicles XXXII, vv. 21-22, Isaiah XXXVII, vv. 36-37), the prototype of which was Christoph Schwarz's copy (Brünn Mährishes Landesmuseum) after Hans von Aachen. On the table is The Murrain of Beasts(?) (Exodus IX, v. 3), for which no prototype is known; the style is perhaps that of Roelandt Savery. Beneath is the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (only partly visible), the prototype of which connects with Rubens's altarpiece of circa 1615, for which see H. Vlieghe, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, VIII, Saints, II, 1973, no. 126 and fig. 71) and like it, was probably inspired by Titian's altarpiece (for which see H. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian, I, The Religious Paintings, 1969, nos. 114 and 115).
The allusions to touch in this allegory are self evident: from the kiss exchanged between the personification and Cupid (whose arrows will prick), the thorns of the roses in the still life (which also draw blood), to the paintings of the Flagellation, the Operation, and the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (Saint Lawrence was burnt to death on a gridiron). The armor and weapons serve as both a defense against and a means of delivering pain. In this latter context should be understood the instruments on the table, the beating of the donkey, the bird of prey taking its victim, the scorpion (whose sting was lethal) and the hunt scene in the tapestry, in which a hound takes a doe.
The emphasis on the arms and armor makes clear Brueghel's association of the theme with that of the Forge of Vulcan, where Venus appears, which he adapted as an appropriate illustration of the Element of Fire (for which, see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, pp. 368-376). The identification of the personification as Venus in Touch is, however, not convincing. The scene of Hell obviously alludes to touch by virtue of the tortures to which the damned are subjected, while the two scenes of divine retribution perhaps refer to touch in the form of the overwhelming intervention of the Almighty. The inclusion of the tortoise was probably suggested by the specification in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia, 1603 (ed), p. 448: 'Tatto....& per terra vi sarà Testudine'.
The setting is similar to that earlier developed by Jan Brueghel the Elder for the Element of Fire, of which an early example is the painting in the Ambrosiana of 1608 (for which see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, fig. 445 and cat. no. 190, where the composition is in the opposite direction). The array of armor is if anything more extensive in the Prado picture (and thus the present lot) than in his treatments of the Element of Fire (for which see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, pp. 378-382).
The setting is a draped gallery with a triple arched opening, from which steps descend to the park of Mariemont Castle; adjacent is a room, with a colonnaded hall beyond.
In the background is a view of the Archducal summer residence, Mariemont Castle, which was destroyed during the Napoleonic occupation in 1794. Earlier rebuilt after its destruction in 1554, it was to be amplified by the Archduke Albert in three phases, all of which are recorded by Jan Brueghel the Elder in independent landscapes (see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, pp. 157-161). The present view shows the castle after completion of the third phase - the addition of the four pavilions on the corners and the terrace beneath - apparently undertaken in 1617-1618 (see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., pp. 180-181). The view is similar to that which appears as the background in Ruben's portrait of the Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia in the Prado (see ibid., no. 21).
The walls of the gallery and adjoining room are lined with leather, embossed with a brocade pattern. The center for the production of such wall hangings of Spanish origin (guadamacile) in the southern Netherlands was Mechelen, but workshops were already established in Brussels and Rijsen by the beginning of the seventeeth century (see M. Aguiló Alonso, Cordobanes y guadamaciles, in exh. cat. El Arte en la Piel, Museu de L'Art de la Pell, Barcelona, 1998, pp. 22ff).
In the foreground left, beside the organ, is a harpsichord with a painted lid. Propped against the harpsichord is a cello and other string instruments with a sackbut and a birdstand, on which parrots are perched. Nearby is a table, on which are seven open scores and a timepiece, at which singers will stand to perform a madrigal.
Just right of center is the personification of Hearing seated, playing a lute, a child singing beside her with a deer in attendance. A musket rests against a chair, and a pistol nearby. On the floor, by the table, are various wind instruments and bells. On the draped table are three timepieces and a celestial globe on an ornate silver-gilt mount. Propped against the table is a harp. Against the wall are more timepieces.
In the far room is a music party, consisting of a woman and two children who sing, accompanied by four musicians playing the cello, lute, recorder and flute. From one of the windows two trumpets protrude.
The present lot differs from the Prado original in so far as the personification wears a yellow garment (fig. 4). The open book on the table omits reference to Peter Philip (sic?) and the coat-of-arms of the Archducal couple and bears a different, illegible inscription. Another, new inscription appears above the score by the violin, center left, so at the table are seven open musical scores (whereas the composer's madrigal in the Prado prototype was for six voices). One painting in the far room has been suppressed, the subjects of the others there on the lower row are difficult to read. The treatment of the Saints on the wings of the triptych also differ.
The timepieces can thus be described. On the table on the left: a German, late sixteenth/early seventeeth century, gilt-metal center-piece table clock on ebony and silver-mounted (?) stand. On the table on the right: a German (?), gilt-metal striking table clock, last quarter of the sixteenth century; a gilt and silvered, metal pocket watch, probably German, last quarter of the sixteenth century; a silvered-metal monstrance clock with figural stand, probably German, first quarter of the sixteenth century; a wood and gilt-metal mounted book-form table clock (buchuhr), probably German, last quarter of the sixteenth century, or possibly first quarter of the seventeenth century. Against the right-hand wall, reading from left: a gilt and silvered metal, astronomical hexagonal table clock, with revolving sphere within a glass display case, circa 1590; a gilt and silvered, metal weight-driven clock, with revolving sphere atop, and housed in a gilt-wood hooded wall bracket, probably Flemish, last quarter of the sixteenth century; a monstrance clock, possibly German, late sixteenth century; an ebonized and gilt-metal, rectangular table clock surmounted by a prancing, bronze horse, the clock attributed to Jost Burgi, German, circa 1590/1600; a gilt-metal striking table clock (partially in travelling case), probably German, late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. On the floor: an hexagonal gilt-tooled leather travelling case, probably German, first quarter of the seventeenth century.
On the table on the right, is also a complex mechanical triplet of celestial and terrestial globes with an armillary sphere on a gilt-brass ornate stand of griffins, Flemish, circa 1580. Beside it is a perpetual calendar of rectangular form, probably German. Towards the left-hand edge of the table is a spyglass in a case.
The central group is set on a sixteenth-century Kashan carpet (see Sonino, op. cit., p. 24).
The musical instruments reading from the left are as follows: an organ; a double manual harpsichord decorated in the Ruckers style, confirmed by the partial inscription 'OBANT', which are the last letters of the Ruckers's motto 'Acta Virum Probant' (see P. Fischer, Music in Paintings of the Low Countries in the 16th and 17th centuries, Amsterdam, 1975, pp. 98-99); a side drum and a double bass viol leaning against the harpsichord; on the floor lies a sackbut with a small lute on top of a mandora (?); behind is an open-cased set of transverse flutes with viols leaning against the stools; a violin rests on a cushion on the stool at the front, below which lies a curved cornett; on the ground semi-concealed by a shawn and a Lira da braccio, are two canons relating to Hearing; the bottom one has the text 'Beati qui audiunt verbum Dei et custodiunt illud' ('blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it') (Luke XI, v. 28); two mute cornetts and a curved cornett lean against the right-hand stool. Beside the table on the right is a harp, bells, pellet bells, hunting horns, a whistle and a helical horn.
The paintings on display in the Prado original have been described by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., p. 136), to which reference should be made for further information. The term 'prototype' below refers not to the rendering in the immediate prototype - the Prado painting - but to the prototype from which the rendering in that painting was made directly or indirectly.
The paintings can be described as follows. In the far room, on the top row, reading from the left: The Contest between Apollo and Marsyas, the prototype for which is not known; The Personification of Fame, the prototype for which is not known; Christ preaching on the Sea of Galilee, (Matthew XIV, vv, 22-33). The subjects of the three paintings below are difficult to decipher.
In the gallery, reading from the left: the painted lid of the harpsichord is an Annunciation to the Shepherds, the prototype for which, by Hendrik van Balen, is in the Museo Jovellanos, Gijón (for which see Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova, op. cit., no. 13). On the wall, behind, is probably Minerva with the Muses on Mount Helicon; the prototype has not been traced but the style would appear to be that of Hendrick van Balen or Hendrick de Clerk. Beneath is a triptych with The Annunciation in the central compartment and Saint George and Saint Andrew (?) in the wings; in the present picture, as opposed to that in the Prado, St. George is fully armored and the Saint on the right has been altered by the introduction of the Cross of Lorraine and the addition of a Tau-shaped cross on the costume: the prototype has not been traced. The Annunciation is painted in a style reminiscent perhaps of Barend van Orley. On the other side of the opening is Orpheus charming the Animals; the prototype is perhaps a lost work by Jan Brueghel the Elder or by a follower of Jan Brueghel the Elder; a comparable composition by such a follower of Jan Brueghel the Elder is in the Borghese Gallery (for which, see Ertz, op. cit., 1979, fig. 325).
This rendering of Hearing is an elaboration of the specification found in Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, 1603 (ed.), p. 448: 'Vdito/Donna che Suoni vn Liuto, & à canto vi sarà una Cerua'. It is unnecessary therefore to seek to identify the woman as Venus or Euterpe. Rubens and Brueghel developed the tradition established by Georg Pencz and Martin de Vos in their series of the Five Senses, in which Hearing was chiefly associated with music (Bartsch, no. 103).
The source of the composition was, like that of Sight, but more loosely, depictions of collector's cabinets then becoming fashionable in Antwerp.
The setting is a colonnaded terrace in the park of Tervuren Castle, near Brussels, in which the personification of Taste is seated at a table about to drink from a contemporary, Dutch tazza filled by a satyr from a magnificent, silver-gilt ewer. Beyond is a kitchen, where a cook prepares meat and a child sits by an open fire turning a spit. The foreground is occupied by a still life of fish, fruit and (chiefly) raw meat.
For the ancient castle of Tervuren originally belonging to the Dukes of Brabant and destroyed in the nineteenth century, but earlier restored and transformed from 1610 by the Archducal architect Wenceslas Coeberger, see M. Wynats (in exh. cat., La Fôret de Soignes, Royale Belge, Watermael-Boitsfort, 1987, pp. 139ff.). A depiction of the castle taken from nearly the same viewpoint occupies the background by Jan Brueghel the Elder of Rubens's portrait of the Archduke Albert in the Prado (for which see Vlieghe, op. cit., no. 60).
As with Hearing, two walls of the terrace are covered with leather, embossed with a brocade pattern (for which see under Hearing). Against the rear (left-hand) wall is a stepped-buffet on which are displayed an assemblage of German, lobed, sixteenth- and seventeenth- century cups and covers; a silver-gilt mounted, oriental porcelain bowl; strawberries in a wanli-Kraak porcelain bowl; a silver-mounted stoneware jug; wine glasses, tazze and a wine taster. Propped against the buffet is a painting; beside it, is a basket of fruit and a wine cooler. A painting hangs above the buffet, and two are displayed on the far wall.
On the table is an array of prepared food, a further tazza, a caster, serving plates and a parcel-gilt triangular standing salt with central figure. In the foreground is a still life of chiefly unprepared comestibles. In the park, are poultry and deer. On the small table to the right of the personification of Taste is a quatrefoil-shaped gold-mounted, hardstone drinking vessel.
On the floor, the bronze wine cistern contains a magnificent silver-gilt ewer and a silver-mounted, German, painted glass ewer of the early seventeenth century.
The present lot differs from the prototype in the Prado in that the hair of the personification is not decorated with a string of pearls, an extra deer has been added in the wood, and two chickens have been omitted. Also omitted is Jan Brueghel the Elder's signature and the date 1618, while a monkey makes an appearance at the far end of the table.
The prepared food consists of a ham, oysters, roast chicken, pheasant, peacock, and swan pies, sliced melon, lobster, roast pheasant and quail. A bowl of confectionery stands on a small table nearby.
The unprepared food, in the foreground, consists of a plucked turkey, a butchered leg of beef, songbirds, a boar's head on a dish, a peacock, guinea fowl, a deer, heron, pheasant, and hare, grapes in a basket, melon, lobster, crabs, artichoke, sole, haddock, cod, skate and salmon steaks.
Three of the paintings in the Prado original have been identified by Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., pp. 144-146) to which reference should be made for futher information. In the abbreviated account, below, the term 'prototype' refers not to the rendering in the immediate prototype - the Prado painting - but to the prototype from which the rendering in that painting was made directly or indirectly.
Reading from the wall on the left, the paintings consist of: an Adam and Eve (?), of which only Eve, perhaps offering the apple, is visible. No prototype has yet been traced. The painting propped against the buffet is The Offering to Ceres set in a garland; the prototype by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrick van Balen is in the Mauritshuis. Above the door leading to the kitchen, is the Fat Kitchen, the prototype of which is a lost painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder, after which is a print by Pieter van der Heyden; the painting on display is in the same direction as the print (for which see exh. cat., Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, Museum Boÿmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, fig. 60). Next is a Marriage Feast at Cana (John II, vv. 1-12), the prototype of which has not been traced; the style is suggestive of that of Frans Francken II.
Taste is quite transparent in its meaning, although what the personification is about to eat remains uncertain. That a satyr pours the wine is, presumably, a reference to his ilk being attendants of Bacchus. The fictive paintings are directly relevant in so far as Ceres, worshipped in the painting in the foreground, was the goddess of agriculture and personified abundance. Martin de Vos in his design for Taste (see above) showed Eve handing the apple to Adam; this would support the identification of the same subject in the fictive painting above the buffet. The Fat Kitchen shows prosperous peasantry at a table, while Christ at the marriage of Cana performed the miraculous creation of wine.
The setting recalls that in the background of Martin de Vos's engraved Smell, in which Christ is seated at table in a colonnaded pavilion. The kitchen scene recalls the work of Joachim Beuckelaer, whose market scenes may have inspired the still life of fruit and meat in the foreground, whose layout also recalls the contemporaneous art of Frans Snyders in Antwerp.
The setting is a courtyard of a mansion, built in a late sixteenth century, Flemish Renaissance style, which has yet to be identified.
In the center right foreground, the personification of Smell is seated on a cushion and is handed a bunch of flowers by a child. She sits by a flower bed, surrounded by potted flowers; at hand are unguents in containers, gardening gloves and a string of cloves (?). Nearby are a pile of roses, roses in a basket and an incense burner in a silver cistern. In the foreground is a genet, two guinea-pigs and a skunk. To the left, behind a flowerbed, is a herbal or perfume distillery, with containers on a bench nearby. Beyond, women pick roses from a pergola before the mansion; in the center, is a fountain before an avenue, to the right is a triumphal arch with a recessed fountain.
The present work differs from the Prado original in that the personification and child wear diaphenous shifts; the personification also wears an ornate armband and a pendant on a necklace. Omitted is the basset hound behind her and Jan Brueghel the Elder's signature.
The flowers consist of from the left: hollyhocks, irises, forget-me-nots, narcissi, wood anemones, snowdrops with a Fritillaria Imperialis (crown Imperial) and tulips nearby. In the foreground is a brown urn with tulips and other flowers, beside is a wicket basket with roses, lilac, tulips, larkspur and narcissi. In the pottery tub and wanli-Kraak porcelain vases are irises, tulips, narcissi, anemones, and nearby lies a bunch of roses. Beside the personification is a pottery urn with pinks while to the right is another vase with marigolds. Against the wall are viburnum, roses, Madonna and Bulbil lilies, tulips and violets.
Smell is transparent in its meaning; it is unnecessary to identify the main protagonists as Venus and Cupid, as Díaz Padrón and Royo-Villanova (op. cit., p. 152) have been the last to do. The formal tradition, which Brueghel developed, may have been that which his father added to in his Spring, engraved by Pieter van der Heyden, see exh. cat., Pieter Breughel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, 2001, no. 106. But this ordered scene has no flowers in bloom, so Jan Brueghel may rather have had in mind such renderings of Spring as by Lucas van Valckenborch and Georg Flegel, an example of which was offered in Christie's, London, 29 November 1974, lot 37 (for which see A. Wied, Lucas und Marten van Valckenborch etc., 1990, no. 34).
We are grateful to Walter J. Karcheski, Jr, Chief Curator of Arms and Armor at the Owsley Brown Frazier Historical Arms Museum Foundation and Dr. Wolfgang Prohaska of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna for their assistance in the cataloging of this lot.