PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Signed lower right: D.TENIERS.F
oil on panel transferred to canvas
Probably in the possession of the family of the artist until after 1719 (see note on provenance in the catalogue entry);
In Paris in 1765, according to an inscription on the reverse of the canvas;
His sale, London, Christie's, 2-3 May 1777, lot 44, to Dynmouth;
His (anonymous) sale, London, Christie's, 18 February 1792, lot 72, for 210 guineas;
Hs sale, London, Christie's, 11 April 1818, lot 86, for 165 guineas to Whyte;
Count Lichnowsky, Kuchelna, Poland, 1906;
With Paul Cassirer, Amsterdam, 1927;
With D.A. Hoogendijk, Amsterdam, 1936;
(With?) E.J. van Wisselingh, Amsterdam;
With Knoedler, New York;
With Newhouse Gallery, New York, 1969:
Robert H. Smith, Washington, by whom lent to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1971-72;
With P. & D. Colnaghi, London 1974;
With Herner Wengraf, 1975 (according to Bock, 1978);
With Richard Green, London;
The British Rail Pension Fund;
Their sale, London, Sotheby's, 5 July 1995, lot 34 to Noortman;
Robert Noortman, Maastricht, From whom bought by the present owner.
Berlin, Kaiser Friedrich-Museums-Verein, Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst aus dem Privatbesitz der Mitglieder des Kaiser Friedrich-Museum-Verein, 27 January - 4 March 1906, no. 137 (reproduced in the catalogue);
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Nederlandsch Muziekleven 1600-1800, 1936, no. 588 (reproduced in the catalogue);
Washington, National Gallery of Art, on loan, 1971-72;
Barnard Castle, Co, Durham, Bowes Museum, on loan, 1977-91;
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruegel, Une dynastie de peintres, 18 September- 18 November 1980, no. 203;
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, David Teniers the Younger, 11 May-1 September 1991, no. 39;
York, York City Art Gallery, on loan, 1992-95;
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle, David Teniers der Jüngere 1610-1690. Alltag und Vergnügen in Flandern, 5 November 2005 – 19 February 2006, no. 47.
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, vol. III, London 1829-36, p. 375, no. 440, also mentioned 254;
N. de Pauw, 'Les trios peintres David Teniers et leurs homonymes', in Annales de l'Academie Royale d'Archéologie de Belgique, vol. 50, 1897, pp.336, 349;
L'Art Belge, January 1937, reproduced;
G. M[arlier], in L. van Puyvelde (ed.), Le Siècle de Rubens, exhibition catalogue, Brussels 1965, p. 262, under no. 277 (as formerly in the Lichnowsky collection, Kuchelna);
R.D. Leppert, 'David Teniers the Younger and the Image of Music', in Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 1978, p. 114, reproduced fig. 35;
H. Bock (ed.), Picture Gallery Berlin. Catalogue of Paintings, Berlin 1978, p. 428, under no. 857;
M. Klinge, in R. Philips Jones (ed.), Bruegel, Une dynastie de peintres, exhibition catalogue, Brussels 1980, p. 269, reproduced;
M. Klinge ed., Adriaen Brouwer, David Teniers the Younger, exhibition catalogue, Noortman & Brod, London 1989, p. 9, reproduced p. 10, pl. 2;
M. Klinge, David Teniers the Younger, Paintings, Drawings, exhibition catalogue, Antwerp 1991, p. 39, reproduced in colour pp. 129, 130;
M. Klinge, 'Das Berliner Familienbildnis von David Teniers dem Jüngeren', in Die Malerei Antwerpens, Cologne 1994, pp. 104-113, pl. 2;
J.P. Meulemeester, Portraits de Famille dans Quelques Tableaux de David Teniers II, privately printed, Brussels 1999, vol. I, pp. 10, 17.
M. Klinge, in David Teniers der Jüngere 1610-1690. Alltag und Vergnügen in Flandern, exhibition catalogue, Karlsruhe 2005 – 19 February 2006, p. 186, cat. no. 47, reproduced in colour p. 187.
The artist is seen here seated, playing the viol, on the terrace of a country house. Seated next to him, reading from a songbook, is his wife Anna, grand-daughter of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and daughter of Jan Brueghel the Elder and his second wife Catherian van Marienberghe, and sister of Ambrosius Brueghel. After her father's death in 1625 (her mother died two years later), Anna became the ward of Rubens, who was a witness at her wedding to Teniers in 1637. Between them we see their son David Teniers III (1638-1685), who was also to be a painter. The page bringing wine has traditionally been held to be the artist's younger brother Abraham Teniers (1629-1670). J.P Meulemeester has tentatively suggested that the figure in the doorway on the left may be that of Theodor Teniers, another brother of the artist.1 The identity of the woman facing away from us is discussed below.
The identification of David Teniers the Younger is beyond doubt. The artist is easily recognisable from Pieter de Jode's engraved portrait of him, which, according to the legend, is after a lost self-portrait (see fig. 2). Another self-portrait, full-length, in Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts, confirms the identification.2 His wife Anna can easily be recognised in Teniers' full-length portrait of her in York City Art Gallery, and both are seen in a pair of portraits painted about ten to twelve years later in a private collection, where Anna is portrayed with another son, Justinus Leopold Teniers, born in 1653 (see fig. 3).3
Another version of the composition, with important differences, is in Berlin (see fig. 1).4 The Berlin picture, which is painted in more muted colours with greens and browns predominant, is much wider, with a park landscape and distant buildings extending to the right, with a wine cooler in the foreground. On the table is an oboe and some music, and behind it is a bass instrument, probably a trumscheit (trumpet marine) resting on a green cloth spread over the balustrade. These are visible because the standing young woman, playing the gitaar with her back to us in the present picture, is absent in the Berlin version, although an X-ray shows that she was originally included.5 The identity of this figure, who occupies an important position in the present picture, is unknown, and the obvious absence of a visible physiognomy makes any positive identification of her impossible. Meulemeester suggested it might be Teniers' sister-in-law Catherina Brueghel, older sister of his wife, whose dates are unkown.6 It seems more likely that she is Anna's younger sister, Clara-Eugenia Brueghel (1623-1693), whom we would plausibly see here as a young woman of about 22. This figure also occurs in the only other self-portrait with his family by David Teniers, a recently discovered painting in which the family are arranged in the lower left quadrant of a pastoral landscape.7 The standing female figure is the only compositional link with the other paintings, since in the 1644 picture the other figures are quite differently arranged, with the artist seated on a bank playing a violin. A similar young woman in black, facing away from the viewer, and holding a fan in her left hand instead of playing an instrument, occurs in the Kermesse of 1642 at Waddesdon Manor, also in conjunction with probable portraits of Teniers, his wife Anna, and their two children.8
The monkey atop the balustrade, common to both this and the Berlin version, may allude to Teniers' ability to imitate ('ape') nature. In Teniers' singeries monkeys ape humans, and in two pictures by Teniers in the Prado, they appear as artists and sculptors. The monkey certainly seems to mock the company assembled below. To have an exotic pet such as a monkey also shows that the owner was a wealthy and successful man, and thus also indirectly alludes to Teniers' ability as a painter.
In both the present picture and the Berlin version the sitters are portrayed at the same age. On such grounds, both versions could be dated circa 1645-6 since David Teniers III appears as a boy of about seven or eight, his father as a man in his mid 30s and his mother about ten years younger (but if the page is Abraham Teniers, he looks a rather immature sixteen or seventeen, and the traditional identification is probably spurious). The Berlin version has traditionally been considered as the earlier of the two on grounds of style and handling. Klinge initially dated the present picture several years later than the Berlin version, to circa 1648, at which date it would herald the lighter more pastel-like colour scheme of Teniers' later style.9 In a more recent article, published in 1993 Mrs Klinge reverses this view, dating the present picture, which she now considers to be the prime version, to circa 1644-5.10 She was the first to observe that the area of overpaint in the Berlin picture, covering the young woman in black, is of markedly poorer quality than the rest of the picture, and she concluded that the alteration to that painting was probably made by a later hand, sometime before Le Bas' engraving in reverse of 1747, and perhaps still in the 17th Century. Principally on the basis of the landscape to the right, which is the best preserved part of the visible part of the painting, Mrs. Klinge now dates the Berlin version to the early 1650s.
In 1995 it was possible to place the two pictures side by side, an exercise which served to emphasis the considerable contrasts between their colour-schemes. It also highlighted the weakness of the area of overpaint covering the young woman in black, (who is just visible to the naked eye). The Teniers monogram on the Berlin picture is false since it rests on an area of overpaint.
It was not unusual in the Netherlands in the 17th Century for painters to depict themselves or each other playing music, for example see Joris van Sieten's Self Portrait (whereabouts unknown) and Lute-playing Painter (Leide, Lakenhal), and Gonzales Cocques ' Painter playing the Cittern in his Studio (Schwerin, Staaatliches Museum). To do so may have had the purpose of professional self –aggrandizement, since music had always been one of the Liberal Arts, while painting, regulated by guilds which included house painters, was then generally held to be a craft. The comparison between musical and colour harmony, and between music and pictorial harmony, so eloquently drawn in the present picture, would have been readily understood in Teniers' day. Equally well understood would have been the obvious connection between musical harmony and the harmonious family, in which each member plays a part in the same way that the members of a musical ensemble each play an instrument. Music-playing family portraits were popular in both the North and South Netherlands; Teniers' Antwerp contemporary Gonzales Cocques was assiduous in the production of these.
De Pauw published an inventory drawn up by David Teniers III in 1671, copied in 1683 and1686 (during the lifetime of David Teniers the Younger), and again in 1719, which is still in the possession of the artist's descendant.11] It contains an entry: Deux pieces de l'escribanne, où mon père touché la basse et l'autre ou que la servante. Mrs Klinge has discovered that the present picture is the only surviving work which matches the description of the first picture, in which the artist 'plays the bass', apart from the Berlin version, which is the wrong shape to have been used for the door of a secretaire. She suggests that it was because the first picture was put to this use that Teniers went on to paint the later Berlin version.12 The second painting described is not known.
An inscription on the reverse of the canvas records that this picture was transferred from panel to canvas in Paris in 1765 (see fig. 4): Ce tableaux a été enlevé de desure/ bois et remis sur toile par hacquin/ maitre ébeniste a paris en lané 1765. It does not appear to have been relined since. Many paintings on panel by Teniers have undergone this process, including a large group in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg.
1. Meulemeester, 1999, vol. I, pp. 10, 17.
2. Reproduced in M. Klinge, 1994, fig. 5.
3. Ibid., fig 6.
4. Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz inv. no. 857; see M. Klinge, 1991, p. 126, no. 38, reproduced facing page in colour.
5. Ibid., p. 126, fig. 38a.
6. Meulemeester, 1999, vol. I, pp. 10, 17.
7. Private collection, signed and dated 1644, oil on canvas, 84.5 by 122 cm, Ibid., p. 126, reproduced p. 127, fig 38b.
8. Ibid., p. 20 reproduced fig. 9.
9. Ibid., p. 126.
10. Klinge, 1994, op. cit.
1. N. de Pauw, 1897, pp.336, 349.
12. M. Klinge, 2005, p. 186.
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