172
172
Attributed to Mattheus van Beveren (1630-1690)
Netherlandish, Antwerp, circa 1670-1680
LARGE CORPUS CHRISTI
Lot. Vendu 100,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
172
Attributed to Mattheus van Beveren (1630-1690)
Netherlandish, Antwerp, circa 1670-1680
LARGE CORPUS CHRISTI
Lot. Vendu 100,000 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art

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Attributed to Mattheus van Beveren (1630-1690)
Netherlandish, Antwerp, circa 1670-1680
LARGE CORPUS CHRISTI
ivory, in a later gilt wood and velvet covered frame
corpus: 85cm., 33½in.
frame: 149cm., 58¾in.
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Provenance

Pierre Jacques François Vrancken, Lokeren, until 1833;
and thence by descent to Theresia Caroline Van den Berghe, Lokeren, until 1838 at the latest;
from whom purchased by Dr. Thuysbaert;
and thence by family descent to the present owner, Brussels

Bibliographie

recorded in the inventaire après décès of P.J.F. Vrancken, 11 August 1833

Description

This extraordinary ivory corpus is a new addition to a small group of Flemish late 17th-century crucifixes associated with Mathieu van Beveren, and by far the largest. The group has been scrutinized on numerous occasions in the 20th century, first in a series of exhibitions in Antwerp and most recently in an article by Christian Theuerkauff and the Sculpture in the age of Rubens exhibition from 1975 and 1977 respectively (op.cit.). According to the latest publications the likely number of surviving corpora that can be securely attributed to Van Beveren is only five (Theuerkauff, op.cit., p. 42).  Each of these corpora is beautifully elongated, with the body gently curving and accoutered with drapery terminating in an elaborate drooping train that tends to expose the proper right hip. Heavy hair, skillfully undercut sagging upper eyelids, and the manner in which Christ is suspended from the Cross lend weight and a downward movement to the composition. The present corpus underlines that Van Beveren made some of the most impressive small scale carvings of the Late Baroque in the Netherlands.

At 77 centimeters, the corpus in the Saint Carolus Borromeus church in Antwerp is the only member of the group attributed to Van Beveren that approaches the dimensions of the present piece. It also compares closely because of the similar, slim proportions and the masterful suggestion of the effect of gravity on the body. The treatment of the hair, eyelids, and the loop in the drapery suspended from the hip are repeated in the ivory in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp which was added to the group by Theuerkauff (inv. no. 855; op.cit., p. 40, fig. 22). It is a fact, however, that none of the corpora associated with Van Beveren are signed. Just one ivory Christ from a Viennese private collection which was exhibited in Antwerp in 1930 is supposed to have borne the monogram M.V.B. Sadly, this object has not been seen in public since (see Siècle de Rubens, op.cit., p. 353). The attributions therefore rely on comparisons with Christ from the large ivory Lamentation on a house altar in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, of which a boxwood version is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. nos. 1764 and 64.164.242) as well as Chronos on the tomb monument of the Count of Thurn und Taxis in the Notre-Dame du Sablon in Brussels (see Theuerkauff, op.cit., pp. 37-40). Despite the lack of signed corpora, Van Beveren was well-known for ivory carvings of the subject nonetheless. Two corpora are documented in Flemish churches in the 18th century and the ode to Van Beveren in Van den Sanden’s Konst-toneel from 1770-1771 contains the following lines: “How elaborate are the small ivory pieces / In which he accurately represents life / His images of Christ beautiful, whilst dying on the cross / still these are purchased for collector’s cabinets and the House of God.”

The type of crucifix in which Christ’s arms are angled upwards is regularly referred to as Jansenist because the range of Christ’s symbolic embrace is shortened. This alteration of Christ’s outstretched arms is said to illustrate to the Jansenists’ notion that Christ only saves an elite group of Christians that is predestined for Heaven. Given the weight and drama this motif adds to the composition, the placement of the arms may have simply been a stylistic decision by the sculptor. The corpora are likely to follow the model of Pieter Paul Rubens’ influential paintings of the Crucified Christ in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (1610-1611) and the Alte Pinkothek in Munich (1615), which predates the advent of Jansenism by several decades.

RELATED LITERATURE
J. van der Sanden, Oud Konst-Toneel van Antwerpen, unpublished, 1770-1771, pp. 557-558; A. Jansen, Le siècle de Rubens, Brussels, 1965, p. 353; C. Theuerkauff, ‘Anmerkungen zum Werk des Antwerpener Bildhauers Matthieu van Beveren (um 1630-1690)’, Oud Holland 89, no. 1, 1975, pp. 19-62; De beeldhouwkunst in de eeuw van Rubens in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden en het prinsbisdom Luik, exh. cat. Museum voor Oude Kunst, Brussels, 1977, pp. 195-200 and 334-335, nos. 313-314

Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art

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