Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Jan Josef Horemans the Younger

Côte d'Opale, from France, sells on 10 December 2016 a pair of "Flemish School, 18th century" paintings of workers, estimated at 400 to 600 Euro.

The paintings are in a poor condition but seem to be fairly well painted. The auction house adds that one of them bears a signature Horemans, and I see no reason why that can't be considered to be authentic in this case.

The second painting may be damaged beyond repair, but the first one seems to be to be salvageable with some TLC, and would probably turn into a very nice painting.

The Horemans family (best known are Jan Josef I and II) very often painted an idyllic or theatrical version of people at work in an interior, like surgeons and alchemists, but also cobblers or a shoemaker or a school.To me, it looks like the work of Horemans the Younger (1714-1792), but it is hard to be sure. The younger Horemans was a bit more sentimental and colourful in many cases, while this work has a palette I would more readily associate with Horemans the Elder. But some other aspects make me choose for Younger anyway.

The dog in the second painting can be seen identical in other works by Horemans the younger. So this means at least that it is not some generic work (or pair of works) where someone afterwards added a Horemans signature: it is either a real Horemans, or a complete deliberate attempt to copy or fake it. As the paintings are so well executed, my guess would be that they are real works. Figures like the woman on the right in the second painting, or the man with the hat on the right, are much too good to be the work of a copyist. The dog as well looks intrinsically better in the work for sale than in the better preserved Horemans above.

I haven't found an exact match for the woman so far, but the man to the right can be found almost identical in a Jan Joseph Horemans I from the Hermitage from 1740.

Good paintings by Horemans the Elder often fetch around 4,000 Euro (a pair of compatable size to these fetched 7,500 at Sotheby's in Amsterdam in 2011, and one at Hampel in 2014 was estimated at 12,000€)), but these are obviously in a much worse condition. Still, the estimate is clearly too low and they should be worth around 1,500 Euro. Then spend some money on restoring them, and you end with good and still cheap originals.

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