A student of Rubens, Sallaert became a master in the Brussels painters' guild in 1613, and thereafter received numerous commissions, mostly religious, the most notable being his important cycle of twelve paintings for the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk at Alsemberg (1647-49). He was also very active as a designer of tapestries and as an engraver, and made a few portraits.
Although Sallaert's use of the oil sketch technique, and certain aspects of his handling, are clearly dependent on Rubens, he has a very personal approach and style, and the use of the reddish-brown background tone seen here is also characteristic of his oil sketches.
No finished painting based on this accomplished sketch is known, but the design must have been intended for an altarpiece or church dedicated to St. Lambert. The composition shows the saint, depicted (as he generally was) trampling on his murderers, and surrounded by the Four Latin Fathers of the Church: Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory the Great, all shown holding the papal attribute of a triple crozier staff.
A rather comparable drawing by Sallaert is in the Alfred Moir Collection1, and others are in Washington and elsewhere.2
1. Master Drawings from the collection of Alfred Moir, exhib. cat., Minneapolis Institute of Arts, et al., 2000-2002, no. 68
2. J. van Tatenhove, 'Enkele Takeningen en monotypien van Antonis Sallaert,' Leids Kunsthistorish Jaarboek, 2, 1983, pp. 243-60
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