Tuesday, 20 March 2018

"School of Fontainebleau" or Dutch or Flemish School, or Vincent Sellaer?

Sworders, from the UK, sell on 18 April 2018 a "School of Fontainebleau, early 17th century" Ceres the Four Elements, estimated at £15,000 to £25,000.

It is an attractive painting, but the attribution differs from the other versions of the same work one can find. These are clearly the same composition and period, but differ somewhat in style so they may well be by different hands.

Tajan sold in 2012 as lot 48 a good but somewhat different version as "ca. 1570, Follower of Vincent Sellaer", estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 Euro, but it remained unsold. Their description indicates that that panel was sold at Sotheby's New York in 1996 a sa work by the Master "de Flore", an anonymous French artist from ca. 1550.

Another version, much closer to the one at Sworders, was sold at Lempertz in 2010 as "Dutch School, 2nd half 16th century". Estimated at a comparable 18,000 to 22,000 Euro, it sold for an impressive 66,000 Euro instead. It looks to be somewhat superior to the Sworders version.

A similar work was sold at Christie's New York in 2011 as "School of Antwerp, ca. 1600". It fetched $12,500 against an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.

Finally, Ferri sold in 2012 another "Flemish School, ca. 1560, circle of Vincent Sellaer" copy, in a much worse condition: estimated at 15,000 to 20,000 Euro, it sold for 16,000 Euro.

Considering all this, it seems as if the Sworders version may be off on the French origin, but are fairly spot on with the estimate, and may even be surprised if they follow the Lempertz example. It seems most likely that this is a Flemish composition from the circle of Sellaer, but I haven't found a clear original for this one, nor an engraving which might explain the popularity of this composition. 

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