PROPERTY FROM A SPANISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
These two large oak panels, one depicting Spring and the other Winter, would have been conceived as part of a set of the four seasons and, given their size, the set must have been amongst Grimmer's most important commissions. While there is no trace of the Summer and Autumn that would have completed the set, it is probable that they repeated the compositions of the same subjects of a complete but much smaller set by Grimmer and Mostaert in which the scenes of Spring and Winter mirror those of the present works (see figs. 1 & 2).1
Mostaert and Grimmer worked together on numerous landscapes and in their depiction of everyday life, filling every corner with some anecdotal detail, these compositions are perhaps their most successful collaborative works. They and their workshops clearly repeated them on several further occasions, there being numerous smaller repetitions known, of varying degrees of quality.2 Where the distant landscape of Winter is more typically Grimmer, that of Spring harks back to the previous generation of Flemish landscape painters and, in particular, to the work of Joachim Patenir. Mostaert's figures are inconceivable without that overiding influence on all Flemish painters of the second half of the 16th century, Pieter Bruegel I. It is to him that Mostaert owes the amusing details such as the snowball fight and that Grimmer owes the overall mise-en-scène.
1. See also R. de Bertier de Sauvigny, Jacob et Abel Grimmer, Brussels 1991, p. 104, reproduced figs. 48 & 49.
2. See, for example, the Winter sold Paris, Tajan, 14 December 1992, lot 27.
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