Thursday, 29 September 2016

Flemish, Netherlands, Italian? Interesting "Nativity", but what is the origin?

Hampel auctions sells on 22 September an "Italian School, 16th century" Adoration of the magi.

The same lot was sold at Drouot as "Circle of Anthonie van (Montfort) Blocklandt, ca. 1580" in 2012, for 7,260 Euro. Anthonie Blocklandt van Montfoort was a Dutch painter who lived from ca. 1533 to 1583.

Another, in my opinion better version of the same composition can be seen at Altramentum, a Spanish restorer who showcases some of their works. This version is attributed to Pieter Coecke van Aelst, who was dead by 1550 so quite a bit earlier. They correctly describe it as a Nativity, as no magi are present, only Joseph (and two shepherds in the background).

The same composition can be found in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, where it is attributed to (manner of) Joos van Cleve, and used to be described as Barend van Orley. Van Cleve died ca. 1540, so this work is going further back into time.

Artnet lists another, probably later version, after Cornelis van Cleve this time: it is slightly different, with two characters on the left (making it n adoration of the shepherds instead of a nativitiy. I have no information on the auction house, date or price, and no better image.


It is a copy after the work from the Ringling Museum of Art by Cornelis van Cleve, from ca. 1540.

Christie's sold in 2006 a "Studio of Joos van Cleve" version of the same work, for £21,600. I could only find this small image though.

All in all, it seems fairly safe to attribute the one for sale to a follower of Joos van Cleve, and to forget all about any Italian connection this work may have.

I wonder whether the artist has any link to the artist of the equally elusive Virgin and Child I discussed earlier. It certainly should be placed in the same artistic environment.

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