Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Rare witness of the Reformation

Hargesheimer, from Germany, sells on 23 September 2017 a "Flemish Master, ca 1700" "Only the Holy Bible wins", estimated at 280 Euro.

It is a depiction of the victory of the Reformation over Catholicism, and I can only find two other examples of this iconography. Considering the topic and style, I highly doubt this is Flemish and ca. 1700: at that time Protestantism was all but dead in Flanders (all followers having fled the country to the Netherlands), and the Reformation and Contra-Reformation were no longer hot topics. Much more likely is a date of ca. 1600, perhaps a bit later, and placing the work in the Netherlands or Germany.

There is one engraving with this image,  an engraving from 1552 by Huijeh Allard (?, top one) or an anonymous work from ca. 1660 (bottom one, from the Rijksmuseum, which indicates that it is a copy from a work of ca. 1560), which shows that even with the help of a little devil or demon the Catholics can't win...

The other painting showing the same imaginary scene comes from the Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, the Netherlands and is listed as Dutch, early seventeenth century. It has the same juxtaposition of thethe Bible, which far outweighs all the gold and jewels the Catholic Church (personified by the Pope, with a cardinal, bishop, monk, ...) can produce and liked to flaunt. In these two versions, Jesus is replaced by some Lutherans(?), and the setting is a church (also a topic of dispute between the groups).

The Catharijneconvent painting is much larger and in better condition; but considering the scarcity of this image and its historical importance (much more than its value as art), I think it is cheap and would not be surprised if this went for closer to 1,000 Euro.

UPDATE: sold for 1,200 Euro, as expected!

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