Joos de Momper, Jan Brueghel the Elder
- Joos de Momper
- A winter landscape with travellers passing through a village
- oil on oak panel
- 34.3 by 55.8 cm; 13 1/2 by 22 in.
Possibly with D. Sala & Zonen, The Hague, probably after 1935 and before 1949;
Kurt Meyer, Los Angeles;
By whose Executors sold, London, Christie's, 29 March 1974, lot 90 (as Joos de Momper the Younger), for 29,000 Guineas, to Smith;
With David M. Koetser, Zurich;
From whom acquired by the late owners, circa 1980.
K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel Der Ältere (1568–1625). Die Gemälde, 4 vols, Lingen 2008–10, vol. IV, p. 1579, cat. no. 767, reproduced.
Ertz dates the panel to the end of the second decade of the seventeenth century. He groups it with a small number of other winter landscapes, the compositions of which are built along similar principles: strong diagonals across the ground and gabled buildings that serve as a framework. Village landscape in winter in the Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Dortmund, is one example that is close in date to this work.1
The same scene depicted here features in an earlier work, Village landscape in winter on a river in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, a large painting that extends the composition to the right to include a wide expanse of water.2 Ertz dates the Copenhagen panel to 1610–15. In both pictures, the immediate foreground is defined emphatically as higher ground that drops away towards the village beyond. In each, Jan Brueghel the Elder – De Momper’s friend and frequent collaborator – has painted a cart but only in this picture is it angled down the slope. The rise and fall of travellers over the crest of hilly ground is a rare motif in their winter scenes and makes one of its first appearances in this picture.3
In the d’Hoop collection, Brussels, is a version of the composition on canvas. Much enlarged, it recalls the Copenhagen picture, widening to the right to include frozen water, this time with skaters.3 Like the present panel, it too includes a lively detail at the lower left of a figure at work but differs from the one here, a woodchopper energetically engaged in his task. Brueghel’s carefully observed figures are grounded in De Momper’s spirited landscape; together they combine in this work to create an atmospheric evocation of winter and man's place in it.
1. Panel, 49.4 by 73 cm. Reproduced in K. Ertz, under Literature, 1986, p. 19, fig. 4 (in colour); p. 208, fig. 223; p. 578, no. 408.
2. Panel, 37.5 by 98.5 cm., ibid., p. 617, no. 556, reproduced p. 247, fig. 277.
3. In the Copenhagen panel the cart appears on flatter ground and faces the opposite way.
4. Canvas, 117 by 167 cm., ibid., p. 587, no. 446, reproduced.