Lot 169
  • 169

Willem van Haecht

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Willem van Haecht
  • Alexander the great visiting the studio of Apelles
  • signed with initials lower right: G.V.H.
  • oil on panel


C. Barwell Coles, Alpha Place, 24 Westbourne Park Villas, London and of the Les Champs Elysées, Paris;
His deceased sale, London, Christie's, June 14, 1856, lot 19, as 'G. van Huysum' (for 14 guineas to Fawcett);
Edward Robinson, Lismara, White Abbey, Belfast;
His sale, London, Christie's, November 26, 1906, lot 58 (as 'F. Francks') for 17 guineas to Wagner; 
Josef Cremer collection, Dortmund ;
His sale, Berlin, Wertheim, May 29, 1929, lot 53, for 4 400 DM, to Bestgui;
Charles de Bestegui, Chateau de Groussay, near Paris;
His sale, Chateau de Groussay, Sotheby's, June 3, 1999, lot 533, where acquired by the present owner. 


Athens, National Gallery and Netherlands Institute, September 28, 2000 - January 8, 2001; and Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, February 3, - May 8, 2001, Greek Gods and Heroes in the Age of Rubens and Rembrandt, p. 214-15, no. 29, reproduced;
Lemgo, Weserrenaissance-Museum Schloss Brake, August 17 - November 16, 2008; Prague, Nationalgalerie, December 11, 2008 - February 22, 2009,  Hans Rottenhammer, pp. 150, no. 54, reproduced p. 151. 


K. Zoege von Manteuffel in U. Thieme & F. Becker, Allegemeines Lexikon der bildenden Kunstler, vol XV, Leipzig 1922, p. 424;
A. Donath, Technik des kunstammelns,Bibliothek für Kunst und Antiquitatsammler, vol. 28, Berlin 1925, pp. 125-126, reproduced P.8;
J. Denucé, De Antwerpsche "Konstamer", Antwerp 1932, reproduced plate 11;
S. Speth-Hoterhoff, Les peintres Flammandsde Cabinets d'amateurs au XVIIe siècle, Brussels 1957, pp. 107-108, reproduced plate IV ;
J.S. Held, 'Artis Pictoriae Amator. An Antwerp Art Patron and his collection', in Gazette des Beaux-Art, t.50, 1957, p.61, note 18 (reprinted in Essays in Honor of Hans Tietze, New York 1958 and in J.S. Held, Rubens and his Circle, Princeton 1982, p. 60, note 18);
F. Baudouin, 'De Constkamer van Cornelis van der Geest, geschilderd door Willem van Haecht' in Antwerpen, vol. 15, no. 4, December 1969, translated as 'Le Cabinet d'Amateur de Corneille van der Geest, peint par Guillaume van Haecht ', in Rubens et son Siècle, Antwerp 1972, p. 270, note 20 and reprinted in F. Baudouin, Pietro Paolo Rubens, Antwerp 1977;
H.R. Hoetink, The Royal Picture Gallery, Mauritshuis, The Hague 1985, p.369 ;
Z. Filipczak, Picturing Art in Antwerp 1550-1700, 1987, p.59;
A. Scarpa Sonino, Cabinet d'Amateur.Le Grandi Collezioni d'Arte nei Dipinti Dal XVII al XIX Secolo, Milan 1992, pp. 69, no 3, 72, reproduced;
E. Mai, 'Pictura in der 'Constkamer' - Antwerpens Malerei in Spiegel von Bild und Theorie' in Von Bruegel bis Rubens: Das goldene Jahrhundert der flamischen Malerei, Cologne/Antwerp/Vienna 1992-3, p. 44;
E. Mai, 'Die Constkamer des Cornelis van der Geest' in Idem, p. 376;
B. Broos, Intimacies and Intrigues.History painting in the Mauritshuis, The Hague 1993, p. 138;
G. Schwartz, 'Love in the Kunstkammer. Additions to the work of Guillam van Haecht (1593-1637)', in Tableau, summer 1996, vol.18 no 6,  p.47, reproduced fig. 7.



The following condition report has been provided by Nancy Krieg. 52 East 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028, 212-734-8330, nancykrieg@nyc.rr.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The support is comprised of 3 pieces of wood (estimated to be oak) which are joined horizontally. They are relatively of equal size, with the top panel being of slightly smaller dimensions. The reverse of the panel is coated with several layers of gesso, paint and wood stain. A horizontal split in the wood is found about 7" down from the top of the panel and extends across the width of the painting. Another smaller horizontal split originates from the right edge about 12" down from the top and extends approximately 20" across. The lower- most join shows signs that it had once opened along the right edge. Examination of the reverse of the panel indicates that there have been several campaigns to secure the panel. Three vertical battens were once present on the back, but have subsequently been removed. The wooden buttons securing the uppermost split have also been removed. Small wooden butterfly inserts are presently securing the smaller split and lower join. These areas are presently secure and stable. Retouching can be found along the above mentioned splits and joins. Some of this retouching has gone matte. There is some minor frame abrasion on the top edge. The painting has been cleaned in recent years. Examination under UV shows the presence of a natural resin varnish less than twenty years of age. The paint surface is in excellent condition. Aside from some retouching in the mantle along the back wall and a small spot on the canvas of Apelles, the painting is remarkably free of restoration. Wood framing strips are found around the perimeter of the panel. The strips along the right and left edges are falling off and should be removed as the end grain of the wood should not be covered.
"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 one of only three surviving paintings by Willem van Haecht depicting the interior of a kunstkamer (picture gallery) and shows the visit of Alexander the Great to the studio of Apelles who is busy painting Campaspe's portrait. The painting is as notable both for this historical anecdote, which was undoubtedly intended to eulogise the role of both patron and artist in the eyes of contemporaries, as it is for the depiction of the kunstkamer itself, a genre unique to Antwerp and that was favoured by other artists such as David Teniers the Younger and Frans Francken the Younger, the latter of whom is generally credited with its invention earlier in the century.

From 1628, on becoming a master of the Guild of St. Luke, Van Haecht was employed as curator of the art collection of Cornelis van der Geest (d. 1638), a prominent merchant in Antwerp and patron of the young Rubens. Van Haecht  held this position until his death in 1637. Van der Geest's collection was one of the most important in Antwerp and it was immortalised by Van Haecht's recording of a visit there by the Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella in 1628 which is now in the Rubenshuis, Antwerp. Some of the paintings included in the present work actually belonged to Van der Geest, such as the Portrait of a scholar by Quentin Metsys (Stadel, Frankfurt) and the small Danae by Van Haecht himself, both in the lower right foreground. Amongst the other works are some of the most celebrated by both 16th century and contemporary painters; at the far left is Titian's Education of Love (Galleria Borghese, Rome), above the fireplace is Van Dyck's Achilles amongst the daughter of Lycomedes (Schoenborn Collection, Pommersfelden), in the middle of the right hand wall Correggio's Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (Louvre, Paris) and immediately below is Sebastiano del Piombo's Portrait of Ferry Carondolet and his secretaries (Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid). The inclusion of such Italian works which were certainly not in Antwerp at this time mark the present work out for special attention and, although not a true depiction of an actual picture cabinet it is, in effect, a picture of an idealised cabinet based on that of Cornelis van der Geest. A further unsigned but superior version of the present work, in which many additional works line the walls and which includes a view through an arch to two further galleries, is in the Mauritshuis, The Hague.1

Amongst the paintings that can be identified in the present work are:

Back Wall (left to right)
Titian, Venus blindfolding Cupid (Rome, Galleria Borghese)
Sir Anthony van Dyck, Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes (Pommersfelden, Schönborn collection)
Gerard Seghers, The Denial of St. Peter (lost)

Right Wall
Bernard van Orley, Alexander banishing the shoemaker (Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste)
Correggio, Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (Paris, Louvre)
Sir Peter Paul Rubens, A drunken Satyr (Vienna, Akademie der bildenden Künste)
Sebastiano del Piombo, Portrait of Ferry Carondolet with his secretary (Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza)
Otto van Veen (?), Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (lost)

On the Floor
Domenico Mancini (?), A Warrior with a sword (lost)
Frans Snyders, The Game Larder (Stratford-upon-Avon, on loan to the National Trust at Charlecote)
Willem van Haecht, Danaë
Quentin Metsys, Portrait of a Man (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut)

Campaspe's attendant holds a print of The Judgement of Paris by Marcantonio Raimondi after Raphael (from which Van Haecht borrowed the pose of Paris for that of Apelles).

Of the remaining, smaller works, while an artist can usually be indentified, the image is too generic or indistinct to allow an identification of a particular work in the artist's oeuvre

1. See Broos under Literature, p. 137, or  H.R. Hoetink (ed.), The Royal Picture Gallery. Mauritshuis, The Hague 1985, pp. 190-1, no. 36, reproduced.