Lot 35
  • 35

Jan Brueghel the Elder

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • Still life with tulips, roses and irises in an unpainted clay vase, and a brooch, ring and beetle on a ledge
  • oil on panel, marouflaged


Julius Kien (1868-1949), Vienna, by 1930 and until his involuntary sale in 1938;
With Johannes Hinrichsen, Berlin (acquired from the above in 1938);
Fritz Thyssen (1873-1951), Berlin (acquired from the above);
Confiscated from the above by the National Socialists in October 1939;
Restituted to Fritz Thyssen’s widow, Amélie, and his daughter, Anita, after 1951;
Purchased from Anita Amélie, Countess Zichy-Thyssen by the Free State of Bavaria in 1987;
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (accessioned in 1992);
Restituted to the heirs of Julius Kien in 2012.


Vienna, Secession, Drei Jahrhunderte flämische Kunst 1400-1700, 1930, no. 9;
Vienna, Galerie Sanct Lucas, Die jüngeren Brueghel und ihr Kreis, 1935, no. 40, reproduced plate VIII.


R. Grosse, Niederländische Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Berlin 1936,p. 24, reproduced plate 31;
M.-L. Hairs, Les peintres flamands de fleurs au XVIIe siècle, 2nd ed., Brussels 1965, pp. 66, 363, cat. no. 34, reproduced fig. 159;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, Cologne 1979, pp. 81, 585, cat. no. 167, reproduced fig. 351;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, Lingen 2008, vol. III, p. 923, cat. no. 437, reproduced p. 926 (as location unknown).

Catalogue Note

Known to Hairs and Ertz only through a black and white photograph, this elaborate floral still life was inspected in Amsterdam in October 2012 by Fred G. Meijer of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie who considers it an autograph version of, and executed at the same time as, the painting formerly in the collection of Baron Fairhaven and now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.1  Drs. Meijer dates both works to circa 1609, the same moment as a variant in the Národní Galerie, Prague.Ertz, without the benefit of first hand inspection of the present painting or, indeed, a colour photograph, dates all three works to circa 1607-8.

Differences between the signed Cambridge version and the present painting are minimal: the variegated tulip upper left, and the placement of the butterfly thereon has been substituted for that which appears in the earlier Prague version; and an insect that appears at the extreme lower left corner in the Cambridge painting is omitted here. The differences between the present work and the Prague version are likewise minimal: the latter includes a blue iris at the apex instead of a pink-and-white variegated tulip as here; it omits both the jewels on the ledge and the sprig of forget-me-nots that here tumbles over the right hand half of the earthenware vase. 

The brilliance of Brueghel's pigments lies partially hidden beneath a thick layer of dirty varnish, though for the most part they appear to have survived largely intact. Unlike many similar still lifes by Brueghel from the first decade of the seventeenth century the yellow pigments, usually so susceptible to degradation, are remarkably well preserved.

Hairs (see Literature) presumes this painting to be identifiable with the still life sold at Christie's, 29 January 1954, lot 157. However neither the measurements nor the recently unearthed provenance correlate.3

1. See Ertz, under literature, 2008, p. 923, cat. no. 436, reproduced p. 925.
2. Ibid., pp. 919-23, cat. no. 433, reproduced p. 920.
3. The catalogue gives them as 25 1/2  by 19 1/2  in..