This imposing canvas is a fine example of the tradition of gallery painting and artistic collaboration in 17th-century Flanders. Reviving the earlier genre of the collector’s cabinet pioneered by Frans Francken II and Jan Brueghel I, a group of painters working in Antwerp in the 1660s began collaborating on a number of gallery pictures, sometimes involving several artists in order to produce paintings of the very highest caliber. William Schubert van Ehrenberg, known as a highly skilled specialist of architectural interiors, particularly churches and baroque palaces, produced the monumental architectural setting of the gallery for the present picture. Van Ehrenberg frequently worked with the figurative painters Gonzalez Coques and Hieronymous Janssens, a genre painter who contributed the courtly figures and elegant companies that populate this scene.
The interior of this glamorous, imaginary picture gallery reveals a sophisticated arrangement of paintings set on either side of a classical arch and features a range of subjects: hunting still lifes in the style of Frans Snyders and Pieter Boel (upper tier); history paintings in the manner of Salvator Rosa (far left) and Rubens (far right); wooded landscapes that recall Jacob van Ruisdael and two architectural views close to Giovanni Ghisolfi (lower tier). A third artist, possibly Theodor Boeyermans (1620-1678), who collaborated with Van Ehrenberg on the Palatial interior with Personifications of the Arts (c. 1665; ex-Weitzner collection), may be credited with executing the pictures hanging in the gallery.
In particular, the present work can be compared with two other of Van Ehrenberg’s collaborative efforts: the Cabinet with ‘Candaules and Gyges’ (1666; Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Staatsgalerie Neuberg an der Donau) and the Interior of a picture gallery (c. 1667-1672; Mauritshuis, The Hague), which both highlight his ability to create the grand, highly theatrical interiors that serve as stages for the pictures and persons his artist-friends would later add.