Wednesday, 21 March 2018

4 "Flemish school" paintings: work by Willem van Herp? Or after Marten de Vos?

Lamas BolaƱo, from Spain, sells on 22 March 2018 two sets of two paintings from the "Flemish School, 17th century", estimated at 5,500 to 7,000 Euro per pair.

The works are related to paintings by Willem van Herp (1613-1677), but the condition doesn't really allow me to discern whether they are by or after him. Lot 1162 shows the "works of men", while lot 1169 displays Biblical scenes. The works have Latin texts at the bottom, but they are too small to decipher for me.

The second painting for sale shows people working on the land. This is a fragment of a painting by Willem Van Herp from a series on stories from Genesis, which was sold at Sotheby's in 2006, as can be seen at the RKD.

The final one is the easiest to recognise, as it shows the building of the Ark of Noach. This as well is part of a painting by Van Herp from the same series, again showing the bottom right corner of the larger work (thanks to the RKD again!).

But in this case the differences are more pronounced, and I was able to find another, better work much closer to the painting for sale. I haven't been able to find the location or origin of this version, which is given as "Flemish". It is very close to the work for sale, with the identical castle in the upper right and so on, but in much better condition and probably better painted as well.

Perhaps it is the original work at the basis of this engraving by Sadeler. It is based on a design by Marten de Vos, but one would expect the engraving to be in the reverse direction of the painting (this isn't always the case, but in the vast majority of cases this reversion is the result).

So it may well be that Van Herp isn't the artist behind these paintings (directly or as inspiration), but that Van Herp and our anonymous artist both used the same engravings as their starting point.

And sure enough, we also find engravings for other works in the series, like the Methusalem, and Cain in the smithy (which means we have now not only found the origin for these works, but also identified the stories behind them, yay!)

The estimate seems rather steep for copies after engravings, but they form a nice set in any case: 4,000 to 5,000 for the 4 together seems more realistic though.

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