Thursday, 11 May 2017

"Pastoral village landscape" is unique view of Bruges

Dirk Soulis, from the United States, sells on 21 May 2017 a "Continental school pastoral village landscape", described as Flemish (Belgian or Dutch), dated 1841 and estimated at $800 to $1,200.

It is a view of Bruges. The unique belfry in the background wa easily recognisable, but the square church tower in the foreground was harder to identify. There are a few villages nearby with this type of  tower: located in the polders, the sub-sea level lands typical of this region of Flanders (and much of the Netherlands) where the winds can blow so hard that more traditional church towers didn't have a chance to survive.

However, none of these had a church resembling the one shown here, or were close enough to have this view. Further research revealed that this is actually the Saint Salvator, the cathedral of Bruges. It looks quite different now, but in 1839 (only five years after it was raised to a cathedral) it partially burned down, and the building of a new upper tower only started in 1843.

So this is a rare, high quality window on this short period of time when the tower was severely damaged, and makes it for anyone interested in the architectural history of Bruges and its cathedral really interesting. I haven't found other views of the cathedral in this period, but of course not everything can be found online.

It is even hard to find a picture of the cathedral and the belfry together today, since usually either the belfry is photographed, or the cathedral is photographed from the top of the belfry. There seem to be very few vantage points left where you can see both at once. Still, the above picture shows that the two buildings are indeed the same, and how the cathedral changed with the added (not really very beautiful) top.

I have no idea who the painter is, the only name I can think of that might perhaps be related is Auguste Vande Steene, a landscape painter from Bruges. But the estimate is really very low and I think for a Bruges collector (or one of the city museums) this may be an interesting opportunity.

UPDATE: sold for $725, seems cheap.

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