PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THOMAS J. PERKINS

Follower of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, circa 1600
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 137,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THOMAS J. PERKINS

Follower of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, circa 1600
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 137,500 USD (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings & Sculpture Evening Sale

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New York

Follower of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, circa 1600
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
bears signature lower right: .P.BRVEGHEL
oil on canvas
42 1/2  by 59 in.; 111 by 150.5 cm.
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Provenance

Madame Lorge;
From whom purchased by Charles de Pauw.

Literature

K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere 15641637/1638. Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Lingen 1988–2000, vol. I, p. 194, cat. no. A43, reproduced (as workshop of Pieter Brueghel the Younger). 

Catalogue Note

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s visualization of the parable of The Blind Leading the Blind is among the most famous compositions from not only Bruegel’s oeuvre, but from the entire history of painting. Bruegel’s 1568 original, today in the Museo e Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples (fig. 1), is among the few works by the elder Bruegel to have early provenance outside of the Low Countries. It is recorded in a 1612 inventory of the Parmese collection of Count Giovanni Battista Masi, a fact that assists with identifications of period and later repetitions such as the present example. While many of Bruegel’s works were adapted and repeated by his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger, the original Naples picture would have already been abroad in Italy by the time the younger Brueghel could have examined it with an artist’s eye—he was just a young child of five in 1568. From a stylistic and tonal perspective, this impressive canvas does adhere much more closely to the more naturalistic and carefully rendered figures of Bruegel the Elder. Despite bearing a typical Brueghel the Younger signature lower right, it seems much more likely that the author of this work was someone who examined the Naples original in the flesh.

The subject of the Blind Leading the Blind is drawn from Matthew, XV: 13-14, which tells how Christ, after being informed that he had incensed the Pharisees by criticizing their spiritual leadership, replied: "Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." The earliest known treatment of the subject in the Low Countries, but probably anywhere in the Western tradition, was by Hieronymous Bosch in a now-lost painting, engraved by Pieter van der Heyden, and published by Hieronymous Cock (see P. Lafond, Hieronymous Bosch. Son art, son influence, et ses disciples, Brussels and Paris, 1914, illustrated opposite p. 94). Cornelis Massys also engraved the subject in a work of circa 1540, elaborating on Bosch’s simpler two-figure composition to include four. Bruegel’s interpretation of the story, however, is by far the most famous, and from shortly after its 1568 production its proliferation into the cannon of Netherlandish painting was widespread.

Master Paintings & Sculpture Evening Sale

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New York