Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Paintings

New York

Sébastien Bourdon
Bears a red wax seal with the Spencer coat of arms on the reverse. 
oil on canvas
55 3/4  by 45 in.; 142 by 114 cm. 
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Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1641-1702);
By descent to his grandson, the Hon. John Spencer (1708-1746), Althorp, Northampton, Northamptonshire;
By descent to the Earls Spencer, Althorp, Northampton, Northamptonshire.


New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., The Arts of France, October 2005 - January 2006, no. 21


A List of Pictures Belonging to the Hon. John Spencer, Scheduled for Mortgage, 1742 (published by K.J. Garlick, 1974-1976);
G. Knapton, Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorpe and Wimbledon belonging to the late Honble Mr Spencer, 25 October 1746, no 192;
A Catalogue of the Pictures of Althorp taken in the Year 1750, Hertford, County Hall, Hertfordshire Record Office, no. SG13 8DE;
Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp made in November 1802 (as Nicolas Poussin);
T.F. Didbin, Aedes Althorpianae, London 1822, p. 11;
Jones' Views of the Seats, Mansions, Castles &c., of Noblemen and Gentlemen in Englad, Wales, Scotland and Ireland..., London 1829, n.p.;
Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp House, London 1851, no. 255;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. IV, London 1912, p. 461, no. 17a (as Adriaen van de Velde);
K.J. Garlick, "A Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp," in The Walpole Society, XLV, 1974-1976, pp. xiii, 8, no. 54, reproduced, plate 31, fig. 54;
Paris, Hôtel Prince de Galles auction catalogue, Tableaux anciens, meubles et objets d'art, extrême orient, 12 June 1995, p. 8, under lot 4;
C. Saumarez Smith, "Spencer (1) Robert Spencer," in The Dictionary of Art, London 1996, vol. XIX, p. 381;
J. Thuillier, Sébastien Bourdon,exhibition catalogue, Paris 2000, p. 153-4, cat. no. 5-1, under no. 5-2;
J. Stourton and C. Sebag-Montefiore, The British as Art Collectors, from the Tudors to the Present, London 2012, p. 79.

Catalogue Note

Likely painted between 1640 and 1643, this is an early work by Bourdon, from the beginning of his first Paris period, just predating the Crucifixion of Saint Peter painted for Notre-Dame. The picture shares a similar compositional structure and use of heavily robed, leaning figures, as found in other early religious works such as King Solomon Sacrificing to the Idols (Private Collection), and Tobit Burying the Dead (Valence, Musée des Beaux-Arts).

A smaller autograph replica of the composition, of smaller dimensions and horizontal in shape, is located in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier. An anonymous copy is also recorded in the former collection of Cardinal Joseph Fesch.1

Until recently, this picture (along with lot 239) formed part of the illustrious Spencer collection, where it hung at Althorp House for over a century, along with masterpieces by Rubens, van Dyck, Giordano and Guercino. To this day, the Spencer collection remains one of the most important intact family collections in Europe, one began in earnest by Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1641-1702). 

1. See literature, Thuillier 2000, op.cit., cat. nos. 5-2 and 5-3. 

Old Master Paintings

New York