35
35

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Herri met de Bles
EXTENSIVE COASTAL LANDSCAPE WITH THE CALLING OF SAINT PETER
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Herri met de Bles
EXTENSIVE COASTAL LANDSCAPE WITH THE CALLING OF SAINT PETER
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Evening Sale

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London

Herri met de Bles
BOUVINES CIRCA 1510 - AFTER 1550 ANTWERP (?)
EXTENSIVE COASTAL LANDSCAPE WITH THE CALLING OF SAINT PETER
signed on the rocky bluff with the artist's device of an owl, and inscribed on an old label affixed to the reverse: Del Civetta
oil on oak panel  
 
32 x 50 cm.; 12 5/8  x 19 3/4  in.
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Provenance

Heinz Kisters (1912–1977), Kreuzlingen, Switzerland;

By whom sold to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967);

By descent to Adenauer's heirs, by whom sold back to Heinz Kisters;

His sale, ('Collection formed by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the Property of Heinz Kisters’), London, Christie’s, 26 June 1970, lot 33, where unsold;

Thence by inheritance.

Exhibited

Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, and Münster, Landesmuseum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte, Sammlung Heinz KistersAltdeutsche und Altniederländische Malerei, 25 June – 15 September and 6 October – 17 November 1963, no. 61.

Literature

K. Löcher, 'Berichte Nürnberg', in Pantheon, 6/12, 1963, p. 398;

Sammlung Heinz Kisters, Altdeutsche und Altniederländische Malerei, Nuremberg 1963, no. 61, reproduced, plate 100;

W. Weemans, Herri Met de Bles : Les ruses du paysage au temps de Bruegel et d'Erasme, Paris 2013, pp. 227–41, reproduced figs 152–59.

Catalogue Note

After the death of Joachim Patinir in 1524 Herri Met de Bles became the most celebrated exponent of the new genre of landscape painting in the southern Netherlands. His paintings typically combined panoramic viewpoints in the World Landscape style with an abundance of detail and lively observation, and were prized far and wide, notably by the Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. The present panel combines all of the elements that made him famous. The subject here is taken from the Gospel of Saint John, XXI, 6–10; the figures enacting it are typically set in an immense vista, dwarfed by the towering, fantastical bluffs and buildings above and beyond them. In the foreground on the edge of Lake Galilee, Christ appears to his disciples for the third time following his resurrection. Saint Peter is seen trying to reach Him across the waves, while to the right the figures appear again in a slightly later episode gathering to grill the fish they have just miraculously caught. The remarkable eagle-shaped overhang in the rocks may be intended as a symbol of the Evangelist and thus refers to de Bles’s biblical source. Upon it may be spied a small owl sitting in a cleft, a pun on the painter’s nickname (civetta in Italian) and his frequent form of signature.

 

The figures of Jesus, Peter and the other disciples in their boat in the foreground of the composition derive from a drawing depicting Christ's calling to Saint Peter ascribed to Herri Met de Bles, one of a series of drawings in the so-called 'Antwerp Sketchbook' today in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, Staatliche Museen (fig. 1).1 Bles's authorship of the drawings has been contested, but five relate directly to panels by him, and it is now thought that they are the work of a hand or hands in his circle or workshop. The drawing seems to have been the basis for a group of seven panel paintings of this subject, of which the present panel appears unquestionably to be the finest. These fall into three groups. The first, in which the figures are set below a towering rocky crag with a coastal landscape receding to the left and fields and hills rising to the right, includes this panel, together with a slightly larger version, seemingly from Bles’s workshop or following.2 A second design, known in two versions, neither autograph, sets the figures to the left of a barren crag with the sea beyond and fields to the right, and include the little water mill also found on the extreme right of the present picture.3 A third group of three panels, which show the same figures before a coastal town with moored shipping, are closer in overall design to the drawing itself, but again none appears to be of autograph quality.4 The subject of the Calling of Saint Peter was evidently a favourite of Met de Bles or his patrons, and roughly a dozen paintings on this theme are recorded. Other panels of broadly similar design to the present work, but with slightly different figures, were in the Coray-Stoop collection, sold Fischer, Lucerne 25 July 1925, lot 35, and that formerly with Goudstikker in Amsterdam in 1926, and now in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires.

   

1. Inv. nr. 79 C 2, fol. 28r. See N.E. Muller, 'Technical analysis of the Princeton Road to Calvary', and H. Bevers, 'The Antwerp Sketchbook of the Bles workshop in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett', in N.E. Muller, B. Rosasco and J.H. Marrow, Herri Met de Bles. Studies and explorations of the World Landscape tradition, Princeton 1998, pp. 24–26 and 39–48, reproduced fig. 17

2. Panel, 40 x 58 cm. Sold Vienna, Dorotheum, 3 April 1997, lot 159 (as attributed to Cornelis Massys).

3. Sold London, Sotheby’s, 22 April 2004, lot 2, and Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, inv. 2475.

4. Sold London, Sotheby’s, 27 April 2006, lot 6; formerly with Galerie Bruno Meissner, Zurich, and in the Stichting P. and N. de Boer, Amsterdam, in which the figure of Saint Peter is omitted.

Old Masters Evening Sale

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