Thursday, 18 January 2018

"Jan de Bray" or someone like Michiel van Musscher

Babuino, from Italy, sells on 22 January 2018 a "Jan de Bray" family portrait, a large canvas (154 by 215 cm) estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 Euro.

It is a good work, but some aspects of it make me doubt the De Bray attribution (given by Didier Bodart in 1992: from what I can see, he is a knowledgeable specialist, so take my comments based on online images with a grain of salt please).

All the woman have the same too large eyes, and some of them share the same somewhat inane smile (caused by stretching the grin a bit too wide it seems). Other De Bray family portraits show much more convincing and individual faces, each with their own look.

The work was offered at Babuino already in July 2017, then with an estimate of 40,000 to 60,000 Euro, so this second offering has an immense discount already.

When looking at other Jan de Bray paintings, one easily sees the differences. Not just the faces, but also the way cloth is painted, the flesh tones... De Bray knows how to use the light to shape his painting and to make all aspects seem real (even though the figurs are a bit posed, not in full movement as you would have with Rubens or so). The second work usess a carpet just like the work for sale does, but to much better, more convincing effect.

This doesn't mean that the work for sale is a bad painting, far from it, and it is close to Jan De Bray in the sense that it is also probably Dutch and from the same period. Now, this is the richest period in Dutch painting history, and the number of good portrait painters active then is just staggering. So finding the actual artist responsible for this painting isn't easy.

Abraham van den Tempel has similar problems with individuality of faces, and rather large eyes and mouths, but his textures seem better.

Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705) shows similar eyes amd mouths and probably comes the closest to the work for sale. But even so his works seems better, and perhaps slightly later.

All in all, it should for now be considered an anonymous Dutch work by a good painter, but not by an absolute master, and probably thus not by De Bray. The current estimate is probably about right, even though it was probably intended as a come)and-get-me low estimate for a real De Bray.

I'll try to find an artist who actually is really close to this style, but for now this is the best I could find.

No comments:

Post a Comment