Thursday, 13 April 2017

20K "Flemish School, high quality, eluded attribution" is copy after Hendrick de Clerck

Dorotheum, from Vienna, sells on 25 April 2017 a "Flemish School, 17th century"  Apollo and the Gods, estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 Euro.

From the auction catalogie on the website:
"Despite its high quality, the present painting has so far eluded a convincing attribution. It is reminiscent of late works by Jan Brueghel II or the Balen Family. An alternative attribution to Johan Hendrick Keller, a Swiss artist who later moved to the Netherlands and worked on the decorations of the Het Loo Palace, has also been suggested."

The painting looks like a good composition  executed by a mediocre artist, and more 18th century than 17th century, with some French influences perhaps. Sure enough, some research leads to a 17th century Flemish original for this, the same composition in a much more archaic style and better executed. 


The original is by Hendrick de Clerck (1560-1630), a "Parnassus" from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (which was originally planned to be reopened after very extensive renovations this year, but which has sadly been delayed for another two years!).
The original is 63 by 47 cm, the copy for sale is 65 by 51 cm.

The one at Dorotheum is described as "The Gods of Mount Olympus congregating around the music-making Apollo", which is technically correct, but lacks the deeper meaning the original has: "Parnassus: allegory of the virtues of the Archduke": De Clerck was the court painter for the Archdukes Albrecht and Isabella, great patrons of the art (friends of Rubens) and two of the most powerful politicians of their time.

As an attractive but not exceptionally skilled copy, it should be worth 5,000 to 6,000 Euro, not the 20,000 estimate which is the price for an original work by a better master.

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