Simon de Myle’s Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.

LILLE - Last week, Pascale Bomy, Sotheby's consultant in the North of France and I invited a select group of clients for a private visit of the exhibition Flemish Landscape Fables: Bosch, Breughel, Bles, Bril on view until 14th January at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille.

The exhibition showed the developments in Flemish landscape painting during this period. The painters were interested in surreal and marvelous landscapes, derived from myths and fables. Their allegorical works reflect Christian beliefs and popular superstitions. Often, the mundane and the bizarre come together: in scenes depicting daily working life, nature is anthropomorphised and strange creatures appear. They reveal the period’s fear and wonder of supernatural forces.

Gaetano Pesce’s chandeliers at the Palais reception hall. Courtesy of Charles Delcourt.

The invited collectors were delighted by this brilliant exhibition, extremely well curated by Alain Tapie. Many aspects of the works were surprising. Elements of Bosch’s paintings, for instance, seemed to predate surrealism, and the fantasy of Patinir's landscapes felt unexpectedly modern.

The show also features Simon de Myle’s incredible painting Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat which we discovered for our June 2011 Old Master and 19th Century Paintings auction.

Equally enthralling for me were the Palais’ huge coloured chandeliers, conceived by the award-winning architect Gaetano Pesce.

Pierre Etienne is Head of Old Master Paintings and Drawings in Paris.