Lot 1
  • 1

Leiden School, circa 1530

70,000 - 90,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • The Harrowing of Hell
  • oil on oak panel


J. Bloch, The Hague, 1939;
A. Schouten, The Hague;
Acquired for the present collection in the 1960s, as Herri Met de Bles

Catalogue Note

Because of the owl in the niche-like opening in the rock to the left, this picture was thought to be by Herri Met de Bles, who often signed with an owl on account of his nickname Civetta (Tawny Owl in Italian), and who worked in the Southern Netherlands. It is not particularly close to Herri in style, however, and has more in common with artists working in Leiden, such as the anonymous hand known as Master J. Kock. Jan Piet Filedt Kok assembled a small group of works under this name, which appears on a woodcut of the Temptation of Saint Anthony dated 1522.1 Although the central figures are indeed similar to those of Master J. Kock, they do not appear to be clearly by the same hand. They are perhaps closer to those by The Master of the Vienna Lamentation, who Filedt Kok tentatively identifies as Master J. Kock.2 

Subjects such as this were no doubt chosen because they allowed the artist full rein to his imagination. The devils rolling barrels to attempt to block Christ's entry into Hell and the devil sitting down to dine on a black rat in the foreground are not motifs borrowed from other depictions of this and similar subjects.

1 See J.P. Filedt Kok, in Lucas van Leyden en de Renaissance, exhibition catalogue, Leiden 2011, pp. 108–13, 224–27, nos 19a, 20, 21, 22, all reproduced, the woodcut reproduced fig. 4.7. This hand used to be identified as The Putative Jan Wellens de Cock.  We are grateful to Dr Peter van den Brink for suggesting that this work belongs to the Master J. Cock Group (email, 23rd May 2015).

2 Filedt Kok in Leiden 2011, pp. 115–17, 227–29, nos 23, 24 and 24a, especially no. 24, reproduced.