Lot 13
  • 13

Jan Brueghel the Elder

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
1,609,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • a village landscape with horses, carts and figures before cottages
  • signed and dated lower right: BRVEGHEL 1607
  • oil on copper
  • 23.7 by 33.5 cm.; 9 1/4 by 13 1/4 in.


Purchased by Elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria (1662-1726) either from Gisbert van Ceulen in Antwerp on 17th September 1698 (together with 104 other important paintings for 90,000 Brabantian guilders and not fully paid until 1774), or later in his life, for the gallery of his newly built castle Schleißheim;
Thence by descent in the Bavarian Electoral, and from 1806 in the Bavarian Royal Collections, housed at Schleißheim according to Von Mannlich's and Dillis' inventories (see literature), and subsequently in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, kept in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, from the 1880s until at least 1908 (afterwards in a "Filialgalerie"), until deaccessioned and sold in 1927 (the approval by the responsible Bavarian State Ministry was given on 28th October) to
Bertha Justina Schedel, Baronin von Greifenstein, Munich;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 26 June 1957, lot 82, for £3,200 to Betts;
With Hallsborough Gallery, London, 1958, from whom acquired by the father of the present owner.




Schleißheim, until the 1880s, and thereafter in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, until after 1908;
London, Hallsborough Gallery, April-May 1958, no. 4.


Probably in the Schleißheimer Inventar from 1761 (this inventory is not very detailed but it lists the paintings hanging in Schleißheim after Max Emanuel's death. Among the 105 paintings purchased from Van Ceulen were 7 Jan Brueghels);
C. von Mannlich, Beschreibung der Churpfalzbaierischen Gemälde-Sammlungen zu München und zu Schleißheim, Munich  1810, vol. 3 (paintings in Schleißheim), p. 180, no. 2228 (p. 180), when hanging in Room XXIII of the Schleißheim palace (Neues Schloss) "Ein bespannter Wagen hält vor einer Dorfschenke. Dabey sind mehrere Figuren zu Pferd und zu Fuß.";
G. von Dillis, Verzeichniss der Gemälde in der königlichen Bayerischen Gallerie zu Schleißheim, München 1831;
Teichlein's catalogue of the gallery of Schleißheim, Munich 1875 (no. 125, later mentioned as Schl. 125);
Katalog der Gemälde-Sammlung der Kgl. Älteren Pinakothek in München. Mit einer historischen Einleitung von Dr. Franz von Reber, Munich 1884, revised ed., 1886, 1888 and 4th ed. 1891, p. 141; 7th ed., 1898, 8th ed., 1901 & revised ed. 1904, p. 156, 10th ed., 1908, p. 149, always as no. 686 (Schl. 125), in Room (cabinet) XIII;
A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, vol. I, Vienna/Leipzig 1906, p. 205;
E. Bénezit, Dictionnaire des peintres..., vol. II, Paris 1948, p. 168;
Advertisement for Sotheby's in The Burlington Magazine, vol. XCIX, no. 651, June 1957, p. xi;
The Connoisseur, April 1958, p. X;
The Illustrated London News, 19 April 1958, p. 643, reproduced;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, 1979, pp. 215, 583, no. 155, reproduced plate 259;
P.C. Sutton, Dutch & Flemish Seventeenth-century paintings. The Harold Samuel Collection, Cambridge 1992, p. 40, under no. 10, reproduced fig. 3;
K. Ertz, Breughel-Brueghel, exhibition catalogue, Lingen 1997, p. 210, under no. 54, reproduced p. 208, fig. 1;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568-1625).  Kritischer Katalog der Gemälde, Lingen 2008-10, vol. 2, p. 496, no. 223, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

Although this is in all respects a characteristic Flemish village in summer, and its natural subject is the village inn, which is the focus of the composition and of the human activity within it, Brueghel has here, as in several other works, included the figures of Joseph leading Mary riding on a donkey, asking the innkeeper for shelter at the Census in Bethlehem.  Curiously, this and other similar works by Brueghel have usually been described as The Flight into Egypt, despite the absence of the infant Christ Child.

Jan Brueghel started painting village landscapes shortly after the turn of the 17th century, and they quickly became an established part of his oeuvre, with or without the insertion of Biblical scenes as here.  They usually show a view down a village street, often on a diagonal, or as here on a dog-leg, with houses and an inn to the left, trees, and sometimes a windmill to the right, and a distant church.  This compositional scheme is sometimes reversed.  Klaus Ertz sees the present picture as a development of a work of around 1605, which also includes the figures of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem (and being turned away by the inn-keeper).1  The compositions are however only vestigially similar, and both owe their genesis to several village landscapes with windmills to the right, which date from 1603-5. Brueghel continued to paint village landscapes throughout most of the rest of his career in which this compositional scheme evolves, but without ever abandoning its origins. 

A painstakingly executed replica of this painting on a copper plate of almost identical size, bearing the signature BRVEGHEL and the date 1608 has generally been considered the work of the artist's son Jan Brueghel the Younger, although it may have been painted earlier in the Elder's workshop; Klaus Ertz has recently revised his own former opinion and published it as an autograph work by Jan Brueghel the Elder.3

We are grateful to Dr Marcus Dekiert, Curator for Dutch and German Baroque Painting at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, for his help in clarifying the provenance.

1.  Private collection, London; see Ertz, under Literature, 2008-10, p. 494, no. 222, reproduced.
2.  See for example, Ertz, op. cit, vol. 1, pp. 343-9, nos. 167-9, all reproduced.  The problem with dating these works more precisely is that often the final digit of the date is unreliable, or effaced and known only from earlier literature, or mis-transcribed (1603 and 1605 are often confused). 
3.   See Ertz, under Literature, 2008-10, vol. 2, p. 498, no. 224, reproduced in colour p. 497.