Lot 12
  • 12

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

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


  • Pieter Brueghel the Younger
  • A wedding procession
  • signed and dated lower right: .P.BREVGHEL.1627.
  • oil on oak panel


A. and M. Carrier, Lyon, 1871 (according to a label affixed to the reverse), and by family tradition acquired in Belgium in the mid-19th Century by a great-uncle of the foregoing;
Thence by descent until sold by the Carrier family, London, Sotheby's, 11 July 1979, lot 108, for £90,000 to Atterton;
Anonymous sale ('The Property of a Nobleman'), New York, Sotheby's, 20 January 1983, lot 6, where acquired by Akram Ojjeh;
The Akram Ojjeh Collection, by which sold London, Christie's, 17 December 1999, lot 91, for £800,000.


G. Marlier, Pierre Brueghel le Jeune, Brussels 1969, p. 173, no. 4;
M. Diaz Padron, 'La Obra de Pedro Brueghel el joven en Espana', in Archivo Espanol de Arte, 1980, p. 309;
K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere. Die Gemälde mit kritischem oeuvrekatalog, Lingen 2000, vol. II, pp. 635, 701, no. E 820*, reproduced p. 634, no. 505.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden, who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is on an oak panel, which has old priming on the back and three cross bars. There are two joints. The upper one appears to have been reglued and has an old butterfly support and a certain amount of retouching all along. The other has narrower occasional retouching. The panel remains almost perfectly flat and the paint seems to have long been stable and secure. There is a fine minute craquelure evenly throughout. The present restoration is recent with any retouching carefully integrated. Little surface touches can be seen under ultra violet light quite widely spread across the sky and the ground between the figures, while the figures them selves are finely intact. The drawing is characteristically visible through the light translucent films of paint in many places. 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

In a gently undulating Flemish landscape, a procession accompanied by bagpipers is conducting the bridal couple from the farming hamlet of half-timbered thatched houses and barn to the right towards the village to the left, whose church tower rises above the roofs.  The procession is passing a windmill, and in the distance, in a nod to the old Flemish pictorial tradition of the 'World Landscape,' an inlet of the sea retreats to the illimitable horizon.  The couple are not yet married and are thus separate.  The groom, preceded by a piper, leads the procession.  Brueghel has here depicted him as if isolated between two tree trunks.  The bride, wearing bridal robes often seen on Brueghel's paintings of weddings, preceded by another piper, is accompanied by her female relatives.  Her male relatives are to one side, and her father, leading them, turns to admire his daughter with a look of pride.   In the foreground, a dog barks at the piper, as well he might.  

The composition, one of Pieter Brueghel the Younger's most charming, is often said to have been based on a lost work by the artist's father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  A version in Brussels used to be thought to be the Elder Bruegel's prototype, but is later in date, and is now regarded as a work by the present artist's brother, Jan Brueghel the Elder.1  

Klaus Ertz lists six autograph versions of this composition by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, of which five are signed and dated: the earliest is 1623 and the latest 1630.2  All are (or were) on panels of broadly similar dimensions, which suggests that, as appears to have been the custom in the Brueghel workshop, the design was transferred from panel to panel by tracing.  That all of these date from a seven year period in the 1620s, and none is earlier than 1623 may lend support to the idea that the composition is of Pieter Brueghel the Younger's own devising.  The subject however is earlier, and has clear origins in the 16th Century, when it was treated on several occasions by Marten van Cleve.

All the versions are remarkably similar.  The latest, dated 1630, was sold in New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2006, lot 9, for $2,700,000.

Ertz's codified catalogue appends an E to his catalogue number to denote Echt, which means a Genuine work in his opinion. He also uses F = Fraglich, meaning doubtful, and A = Abgeschrieben, meaning literally de-attributed, or not genuine. An asterisk* means that he has inspected the picture in the original; otherwise his opinions are from photographs. For the avoidance of doubt, he has inspected this picture in the original and he considers it Echt.

It is usually assumed that Pieter Bruegel the Elder omitted the "h" from his surname to Latinize it when he went to Italy. Our spelling of his name follows his signature. His son Pieter changed the spelling of his surname in his signature from Brueghel to Breughel in circa 1616, but his brother Jan Brueghel the Elder and his nephew Jan Brueghel the Younger seem to have retained the earlier form, which we have used when referring to the family, or to compositions used by both Pieter the Elder and Pieter the Younger.

1.  In the Musée Communale de la Ville de Bruxelles; see K. Ertz, Breughel-Brueghel, exhibition catalogue, Essen 1997, p. 122.
2.  See Ertz under literature, pp. 701-2, nos. E 818* to E 823, reproduced figs 504, 505, 507.  In fact Ertz lists seven autograph versions, but one (p. 702, no. E 824*, reproduced p. 633, fig. 503) is of the same subject but has a substantially different composition, with the orientation reversed.