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PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Marten van Cleve the Elder
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT
33

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Marten van Cleve the Elder
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Evening Sale

|
London

Marten van Cleve the Elder
ANTWERP CIRCA 1527 - BEFORE 24 NOVEMBER 1581
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN

Provenance

Acquired by the grandfather of the present owner.

Catalogue Note

This hitherto unpublished painting by Marten van Cleve is a lively and striking example of this important artist’s independent invention and has been hidden away in a private Spanish collection for the past two generations. Marten van Cleve provides the all-important link between Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger, providing a continuation of the elder Bruegel’s key advances in the art of landscape and genre painting after the latter’s death in 1569 through to his own demise in 1581. By this time Pieter the Younger, born in 1564, was beginning his career as a painter. The originality, liveliness and atmosphere of this painting thus shows Marten van Cleve as a wholly autonomous artist, far more so than his young successor, and is an all-too rare example of his art on a large scale.

The painting depicts the feast of St. Martin, as denoted by the depiction of the saint dividing his cloak with a beggar in a painting decorating the building to the left. In other versions the white flag fought over by three youths in the right middle ground also carries a depiction of this scene. The feast was celebrated on 12th November and is distinct from other such feast days in the lighting of fires throughout towns and villages. It was a popular festival celebrated until its removal from the Catholic calendar in 1642. Here we see a young boy holding out his hat to be filled with nuts, an elegantly dressed boy to the left holding a monkey by a chain who has just pilfered an apple from a nearby basket. Revellers surround them and scuffles break out in a scene of lively activity.

This is a composition singular to Marten van Cleve and surprisingly was not taken up later by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Another version is known in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dunkirk.1 A later copy features in the inventory of Arnold Lunden, Rubens’ brother-in-law, in 1641, a painting that Rubens is said to have retouched.

1. K. Ertz, Marten van Cleve, Lingen 2014, p. 137, cat. no. 8, reproduced.

Old Masters Evening Sale

|
London