Lot 11
  • 11

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pieter Brueghel the Younger
  • The Kermesse of Saint George
  • signed lower left: BRVEGHEL
  • oil on oak panel


Maliroux collection, Namur, by circa 1922;
With Robert Finck, Brussels, 1967;
Frantz L.C. Pottiez, Brussels, from 1967 until after 1980;
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Gentleman"), London, Sotheby's, 8 April 1981, lot 80, for £250,000;
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Trust"), London, Sotheby's, 7 July 2005, lot 6 for £2,000,000;
With De Jonkheere, Paris, from whom acquired by the present owner.



Brussels, Galerie Robert Finck, Tableaux de maîtres du XVe au XIXe siècle, 1967, no. 17 (reproduced in the catalogue);
Brussels, Galerie Robert Finck, Trente-trois tableaux de Pierre Brueghel le Jeune dans les collections privées belges, 1969, no. 18 (reproduced in the catalogue), lent by Frantz Pottiez;
Ghent, Centrum voor Kunst en Cultuur, Eenheid en Scheiding in de Nederlanden 1555-1585, 1976, no. 111;
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruegel.  Une dynastie de peintres, 18 September - 18 November 1980, no. 100, lent by Frantz Pottiez.


G. Marlier (ed. J. Folie), Pierre Brueghel le Jeune, Brussels 1969, pp. 381-6, reproduced figs. 234-8;
Eenheid en Scheiding in de Nederlanden 1555-1585, exhibition catalogue, Ghent, Centrum voor Kunst en Cultuur, 1976, pp. 81-2, no. 111, reproduced;
J. Folie, in Bruegel. Une dynastie de peintres, exhibition catalogue, Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 18 September - 18 November 1980, p. 160, no. 100, reproduced in colour;
H.-J. Raupp, Bauernsatiren, Enstehung und Entwicklung des bäuerlichen Genres in der deutschen und niederländischen Kunst ca. 1470-1570, Niederzier 1986, p. 228, reproduced fig. 209;
K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere (1564-1637/38). Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, vol. II, Lingen 2000, pp. 871-2, 909, no. E. [= Echt] 1242, reproduced p. 871, fig. 705.


"The following condition report has been provided by Sarah Walden, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is on an oak panel with a comparatively recent cradle. This has an extra supporting bar along the joint in the lower third of the panel, and a short extra support in the upper centre behind some wavering old cracks. There is also a minor crack at the centre of the left edge and some old cracking near the base, however these all appear stable. The effective recent restoration includes filling and retouching along the lower joint and the various other past movements in the wood: a wide band of retouching along the lower joint runs through the dancing couple on the left, through the face of the man in jester's costume, the face of the man vomiting and the group on the left including the upturned face of the child near the woman's white skirt, all of which have been well touched in. Nearer the base there is retouching crossing the barrel and the legs of the man drinking, with other retouching through the feet of the group in the centre of the foreground. The ground around the figures tends to be the most vulnerable, lightly painted part of Brueghel's scenes, and this has some strengthening in places. At upper centre left there is retouching in the background above the man tipping an empty tankard, and a broader stretch of retouching from the house on the left, through the face of the man at the window and the cottage wall by the inn sign, across the wall and door of the church, through the houses and across the thatched roof on the right, just missing the group of children going into church although touching some of the distant procession. Apart from these old cracks, now finely retouched, there are only a few tiny disparate marks touched out elsewhere in the sky for example, which is extremely well preserved. The characteristic technical virtuosity of the brushwork is beautifully intact, in part due to the strength of the oil, which enriched the depth of colour in the pigments, but the vivid detail and fine surface of the paint is also exceptionally unworn. This report was not done under laboratory conditions."
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This is Pieter Brueghel the Younger's finest and most original composition, entirely independent from any of his father's works and more assured and accomplished than any of his own other original compositions.  Georges Marlier, the pioneering Breughel scholar, praised this picture for brilliantly affirming the younger Brueghel's own personality, 'The picture is one hundred percent "Breughelian", not only for the dramatic rhythms that pervade it, but also in the stylisation of the figures and in the colour harmonies.  Whilst maintaining the continuity of Pieter the Elder's art through these themes, his son Pieter gives rein to his own particular vigour, his own taste for anecdote and his own mastery of his profession that equals those of the greatest artists. 1

The painting is also one of Pieter Brueghel the Younger's rarest compositions since, including the present work, only three securely autograph versions are known. The prime version, larger in scale, and signed and dated 1628, was sold in these Rooms on 8th December 2004, lot 11, for £3,300,000.  A third picture, of very similar dimensions to the present example, and signed but undated, is in the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp.  A fourth version, which may also be autograph, is recorded in the Oberlander collection before 1993, but is known only from a photograph.  Although all four pictures are quite similar, Klaus Ertz2 divides the compositional type into two groups: Type A, the version sold in these Rooms in December 2004, and Type B, which includes the present picture, the one in the Antwerp Museum and the ex-Oberlander painting.  The most noticeable differences are in the lower right corner: in Type B the bagpipe player no longer occupies the corner of the composition but has been moved to the doorway of the inn; and the seated glutton rests on the log, and not on the basket full of produce.  There are also numerous smaller differences.

Much of Pieter Brueghel the Younger's output was derived from his father's compositions, and some of his paintings are based on other early sources.  Others still depend on sources within his own work.  The present picture has no such derivations or resonances, with the sole exception of the façade of the inn to the left, which, as Jacqueline Folie pointed out in the 1980 Brussels exhibition catalogue, is loosely derived, with many changes, from an engraving of the Kermesse of Saint George attributed to Hieronymus Cock after Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  Given that it is seen in reverse in the print, it is perhaps more likely that Pieter Brueghel the Younger had access to a drawing by his father done of the inn, or that both father and son knew the same inn, and incorporated it from memory.

1. "Cette composition, dont nos n'avons repéré que trois exemplaires, est assurément une des plus belles et des plus complètes de Pierre le Jeune, celle où sa personnalité s'affirme de la manière la plus brillante.  Le tableau est à cent pour cent "breughélien", à la fois par le rhythme dynamique qui le parcourt de part en part, la stylisation des figures et les accords de couleurs.  Mais tout en observant ces données qui se situent dans le prolongement de l'art du Vieux Bruegel, son fils Pierre donne libre cours à la verve qui est lui propre, à son goût de l'anecdote et à sa maîtrise d'un métier qui égale celui des plus grands". G. Marlier (ed. J. Folie), Pierre Brueghel le Jeune, Brussels 1969, p. 381.
2. See under Literature.