with Colnaghi & Eckford, London, by whom sold to
Henry Burgh, Cheltenham, at whose sale acquired by
George Pearse, Cheltenham, a Major in the Royal Artillery, by June 1869 (according to note written by him and attached to the reverse);
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Lepke, March 22nd, 1910, lot 49 (as by Beukeleer);
Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller, April 25th, 1911, lot 77 (as by The Monogrammist HB);
Dr. Rudolf Berl (1884-1963), an industrialist who lived in the Palais Rudolf Gutmann, Vienna, until 1939;
Transported from Austria after the Anschluss by the Dutch merchant, Job Thole, to Huizen, near Amsterdam, whence collected by Berl's agent in the Netherlands, Alfred Seidl, and deposited for storage with Ulrix, Brussels;
Acquired from Ulrix by Kayetan Mühlman on October 21st, 1941 and transported to Berlin by December (vide Mühlmann's label on the reverse);
Sold by Mülhmann to Field Marshal Hermann Göring for RM 3,200 on December 6th, 1941 and deposited in Carinhall, Göring's residence;
Captured with the rest of Göring's collection in a train by American troops and taken to the Munich Collecting Point, whence moved to the Netherlands in 1946-7;
The Instituut Collectie Nederland (earlier the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, no. NK 2646) until restituted to Dr. Berl's heir in 2002.
J. Sievers, "Joachim Beuckelaer", Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen, 32, 1911, p. 185ff, as Joachim Buckelaer;
The H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, "Pieter Aertsen en Joachim Beuckelaer en hun ontleeningen aan Serlio's architectuurprenten", Oud Holland, 62, 1947, p. 130, fig. 8, as Joachim Beuckelaer;
D. Kreidl, "Joachim Beuckelaer und die Monogrammist HB", Oud Holland, 90, 1976, p. 162ff, as the Monogrammist HB;
D. Kreidl, "Der Monogrammist HB, Ein Niederländer in der Bronzino Werkstatt", Wiener Jahrbrüch der Kunstgeschichte, 34, 1981, pp. 165ff, as the Monogrammist HB;
Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, Old Master Paintings, An Illustrated Summary Catalogue, 1992, p. 39, as Joachim Beuckelaer;
M. Wolters, "De Monogrammist HB geidentificeerd: Huybrecht Beuckeleer", Album Discipulorum J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer, 1997, pp. 231 and 236, note 2;
R. van Wegen, catalogue of the exhibition, Het 'Gelijk' van de Achterkant, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, 1999, no. 3, as Huybrecht Beuckeleer;
Die Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls Hermann Göring by Guenther Haase, Edition q, 2000, p. 278 (listed in inventory of property seized from Göring by the US Army on 4 August 1945, as “Beukelaar, Joachim, Easter Feast, (Muhlmann Coll., Berlin Dec 1941) (KG-887)”;
J. Bruyn, "Hubert (Huybrecht) Beyckelaer, an Antwerp portrait, and his English patron, the Earl of Leicester", Juliette Roding and Eric Jan Sluijter, Dutch and Flemish artists in Britain 1550-1750, Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 13, 2003, pp. 85-112.
The author of this impressive panel is the rare, and only recently identified Flemish master, Huybrecht Beuckelaer, the younger brother of Joachim Beuckelaer and native of Antwerp.
Although his name is a fairly recent discovery, his artistic personality was first defined as long ago as 1976 by Detlev Kreidl, under the moniker the Monogrammist HB (see Literature below). Kreidl associated a small group of works with this then anonymous master including the Prodigal Son Feasting with Harlots, in the Musées Royaux de Beaux Arts, Bruxelles (see Catalogue Inventaire de la Peinture Ancienne, 1984, p. 336, no. 3438) and The Kitchen Maid with Helpers, also in the same museum collection in Brussels. Attributed over the years to both Joachim Beuckelaer and Aertsen, both works were found to bear the monogram Hb. Then in 1997, after infra-red reflectography was conducted on The Kitchen Maid with Helpers, the signature “Beuckler” and a date of 1570/(6?) was uncovered on the picture next to the more familiar monogram HB. This discovery helped identify the “so-called” Monogrammist HB as Huybrecht Beuckelaer, the younger brother of Joachim Beuckelaer the well known painter of kitchen and market scenes. The present work was for many years attributed to Joachim and there is even a certificate from Gustav Glück dated 3 November, 1927, in which he attributes the picture to Joachim Beuckelaer.
Born into an Antwerp family of painters, probably in the late 1530s, Huybrecht Beuckelaer produced his earliest known works in the 1560s. The present panel, dated 1563, actually represents the earliest known work by his hand. Like his better known brother Joachim, Huybrecht is believed to have received his early training in the studio of Pieter Aertsen. By the early 1560s, Aertsen had left for Amsterdam and Joachim was successfully running his production of kitchen and market scenes. It is unclear what role Huybrecht played in the studio, but what is evident is that Joachim and Huybrecht’s early works indicate that they were both heavily influenced in their output by Aertsen and adopted both his stylistic idiom and manner of painting, making it at times difficult to distinguish the pupils from their master, particularly in the case of Joachim. In Kreidl’s discussion of the “Monogrammist HB,” he noted the stylistic differences between his work and that of Joachim, noting that the Monogrammist’s figures were more statuesque and sculptural in handling (see Literature below). Kreidl also argues a similarity between the Monogrammist HB’s works and portraits from the circle of the Florentine painter Bronzino. The sculptural treatment of his figures and the crisp modelling of his faces does belie the influence of the Florentine master. Shortly after this picture was painted, in 1567, Huybrecht was said to be ‘travelling in various foreign countries in order to see the land and learn the language, and to practise his trade as a painter and thus earn his living (…)’ (see Wolters 1997 Literature below). Although Kreidl suggests that possibly he trained in Bronzino’s workshop as early as the mid- 1550s, although there is no known documentary evidence to support this theory (see Kreidel Literature below for further discussion of this subject).
The observation of various textures and patterns also suggests the influence of Anthonis Mor, with whom he is thought to have possibly collaborated in the early 1560s in Antwerp. There is a portrait in the Mauritshuis of an unknown man which is signed and dated Mor 1561. It is generally believed that only the head was painted by Mor, and the rest by an assistant. Josua Bruyn (see Literature below) proposes that the assistant could plausibly be Huybrecht Beuckelaer. A comparison with The Prodigal Son and the rendering of fabrics in the present work gives support to this idea ( for further discussion of this subject see Josua Bruyn, “Hubert (Huybrecht) Beuckelaer, an Antwerp portrait painter, and his English patron, the Earl of Leicester”, Oud Holland, 2003, pp. 85-90).
Huybrecht like his brother employed a formula already used by Aertsen in the early 1550s, a high viewpoint, allowing every aspect of, in this case, the Passover Feast to be explained in detail. The relatively large-scale of this composition in which the figures are almost life-like positioned in the immediate foreground, is clearly indebted to the colorful naturalism of Aertsen’s later works of this type. The scene is dominated by these large, very handsome figures distributed on all levels of the pictorial space and connected by eye contact and individual gestures as they gather together around the feast table. Huybrechts, delicate treatment of the figures is here more elegant and idealized than Aertsen’s or his brother Joachim.
The architectural setting for the present Feast scene with the ornate architectural elements, is borrowed directly from Sebastiano Serlio’s treatise on architecture, Regole generale, as Reglen en Metselrijen, which was published in parts from 1537 and translated into Dutch by Pieter Coecke van Aelst and published in Antwerp, 1539-50. Huybrecht specifically repeats the design for the Corinthian fireplace with caryatid supports at front, which is a motif that Aertsen had similarly incorporated in his 1552 Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. This print was also quoted by Joachim in his Christ in the House of Martha and Mary in the Musées Royaux de Beaux Arts, Bruxelles. It is interesting to note that the present picture was painted in the same year as Joachim’s Christ in the House of Mary and Martha.
Huybrecht is not recorded as becoming a master in the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke until 1579, when he is listed on the guild books as the son of "Mattheus de Beuckelaer." In his later life he is recorded as having been active as a merchant in Antwerp, thus possibly explaining the rarity of his works. Huybrecht and Joachim appear to have had no immediate followers in Antwerp, but their work found favour in Northern Italy in the latter part of the 16th century inspiring Vincenzo Campi in Cremona and Bartolomeo Passarotti and Annibale Carracci in Bologna in their depiction of both market and kitchen scenes.
The subject of the present work is rather rare in early Flemish art. Passover Feasts were more frequently depicted in manuscript illustrations. When the theme of Passover is found in a painting it is often used in the context of an altarpiece with other Old Testament scenes such as the Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedeck and the Gathering of the Manna, scenes that were meant to prefigure the Last Supper or, in particular, the Eucharist. One such extant example of an early Flemish master treating the subject is Dieric Bouts, Altarpiece of the Holy Sacrament in which the lower left wing depicts a scene of a Passover Feast. This Altarpiece now hangs in the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Louvain (for a reproduction see Dirk Bouts: een Vlaams primitief te Leuven, Leuven 1998, p. 242-343, no. 23).
Huybrecht dutifully depicts the Lord's instructions to the Israelites as described in Exodus, Chapter XII, concerning the institution of the Passover Feast. Moses and Aaron declared to the Israelites in Egypt, that the Lord had decreed that all Israelites were to eat roast lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs in preparation for their departure to Egypt. The participants are not seated as the Lord prescribed that the meal was to be eaten in haste, 'with [their] loins girded, their shoes on [their] feet and [their] staffs in their hands' preparing for their imminent departure from Egypt. The child depicted in the foreground could represent a possible allusion to the prophecy that children would later ask the meaning and significance 'of this service' (Exodus, XII: 26).
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