Lot 32
  • 32

Jacob Savery the Elder

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Jacob Savery the Elder
  • The Season of Winter: a snowy landscape with a wedding procession and figures playing on the ice outside a walled town
  • oil on oak panel


Prince Sapieha, Paris;

His sale, Paris, Lair-Bubreuil, 15 June 1904, lot 15 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder), together with a pendant of 'Summer', lot 14, for 3,000 francs, to Kleinberger;

With Galerie F. Kleinberger, Paris;

Dr Leon Lilienfeld (1869–1938), Vienna, by 1917;

By inheritance to his widow, Antonie Schulz Lilienfeld (1876–1972);

Her posthumous sale, New York, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 17 May 1972, lot 3 (as Pieter Schoubroeck);

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 10 December 1993, lot 39, for £150,000;

With Richard Green, London;

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994.


G. Gluck, Netherlandish Painting from the collection of Dr. Leon Lilienfeld in Vienna, Vienna 1917, no. 9 (as Jan Brueghel the Elder);

J. Sander and B. Brinkman, Niederländische Gemälde vor 1800 im Städel, Frankfurt 1995, p. 20, reproduced fig. 11 (as by Hans Bol?);

M. Neumeister, Holländische gemälde im Städel 1550–1800. Band I: Kunstler geboren bis 1615, Frankfurt-am-Main 2005, pp. 454–63, reproduced fig. 424.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: This painting is on an oak panel made up of three planks. The two lower sections have remained quite stable with little sign of movement and a firm joint. While the cut of the top section was clearly less well selected, and has evidently moved fairly frequently over time, with signs of slightly raised flakes still. An elaborate cradle was installed perhaps early in the twentieth century. The upper joint was reglued and various horizontal cracks and losses were then repaired in this area. These have continued to need attention, and there has clearly been a recent restoration. Under ultra violet light retouching has perhaps mainly been focussed on the upper section, largely in the centre and right of the sky, but quite extensive restoration can also be seen in the distant mountainous landscape, with concentrations around the central castle and the darker hill in the middle distance, with the tree below. There appears also to have been a certain amount of wear in the shadowed architectural walls of the city, the ramparts, fortress and moat on the left, which have had quite widespread strengthening retouching recently. The dark roofs behind have also been reinforced. The bright snowy areas have had various smaller retouches as well, for instance in the snow on the roof of the little lean- to on the right, with other retouching scattered across the snowy centre. However many of the figures remain rather well intact, as does the vivid village scene in general. The lower joint remains perfectly undisturbed without any horizontal interruption across the main centre of the painting. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This painting is one from a set of the Four Seasons, of which two others are known. One of these, that depicting 'Autumn' was sold together with the present panel in the Sapieha sale in Paris in 1904, as the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525–1569), where the former was incorrectly entitled 'Summer'. 'Summer' was subsequently sold separately to Eduard Parrot (d. 1917) in Frankfurt, and then sold after his death by the Munich dealer Julius Böhler to the Städel in Frankfurt (fig. 1).1 It has since been correctly identified as depicting the season of Autumn. The third panel, depicting the season of 'Spring', is first recorded in the collection of J.F. Christoffel in Antwerp in 1935, and remained with his descendants until sold London, Sotheby's, 6 July 2000, lot 44 (£250,000; fig. 2). All three paintings are on panels of near-identical size, have a very similar viewpoint and horizon line, and are surely by the same hand. Each seems to have traces of effaced roundels depicting the appropriate signs of the Zodiac across the upper margin of the sky. Each depicts a variety of figures engaged in the labours and pastimes of those months. In the present panel, the foreground is occupied by labourers sawing and carting timber; to their left numerous figures can be seen disporting upon the frozen moat of a walled town, whose fortified gate appears behind them, while on the right figures emerge from an inn to join a wedding procession with musicians and a figure being carried astride a barrel.

The attribution of all three panels to Jacob Savery is in fact relatively recent, reflecting the rarity of his work in this medium. Originally attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder himself, both this and the Frankfurt panel were subsequently attributed to Hans Bol (1534–1593), who was Savery's teacher, by whom no certain oil paintings are known, but whose drawn sets of seasons and months (each often inscribed with zodiacal signs) must surely have provided a specific source of inspiration for this painted set. The Frankfurt panel was also considered as an early work of Lucas van Valckenborch.2 It was not until the 1993 Christie's sale that the present panel was the first of the group to be correctly identified as the work of Savery by both Dr Joaneath Spicer and Kurt J. Müllenmeister. Dr Spicer suggested a date of execution around 1600, while Müllenmeister proposed a slightly later dating around 1605. A comparable winter landscape by Savery, one of a pair of larger coppers depicting 'Summer' and 'Winter', both signed and dated 1600 and formerly in the collection of Cornelia, Countess of Craven, clearly reflects the influence of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's celebrated series of the months of the year of 1565 and would seem to support the earlier date.  

1. Inv. no. 1552, oak panel, 41.3 x 67.1 cm. Neumeister 2005, fig. 423.

2. H.G. Franz, Die Niederländische Landschaftsmalerei im Zeitalter des Manierismus, Graz 1969, vol. I, p. 201, reproduced vol. II, fig. 243.

3. Copper, 45.7 by 68.6 cm. Exhibited London, Royal Academy of Arts, Flemish Art 1300–1700, 1953–54, no. 328. Sold London, Philips, 18 December 1984, with pendant.