Joos de Momper, Jan Brueghel the Elder
- Joos de Momper
- Travellers passing through a village in winter
- oil on oak panel
From whence acquired by exchange by Galerie Brutscher, Munich, 1968;
With Galerie Lodi, Munich, by December 1968;
With Silvano Lodi, Campione d'Italia, until circa 1979;
With David M. Koetser, Zurich;
From whom acquired by the late owners on 28 April 1981, for 800,000 Swiss francs.
Prague, Národni Galerie, Flámské krajinářství 16. a 17. století, ed. J. Šíp, 1967, no. 38, reproduced.
The Burlington Magazine, December 1968, vol. CX, no. 789, reproduced plate XIII;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568–1625). Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Cologne 1979, pp. 483, 486 and 624, cat. no. 398, reproduced p. 484, fig. 586;
K. Ertz, Josse de Momper der Jüngere (1564–1635). Die Gemälde mit kritischem Œuvrekatalog, Freren 1986, p. 290, pp. 578–79, cat. no. 410, reproduced in colour, p. 249, fig. 280;
K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel Der Ältere (1568–1625). Die Gemälde, 4 vols, Lingen 2008–10, vol. IV, p. 1588, cat. no. 777, reproduced in colour p. 1589;
L. Slavíček, The National Gallery in Prague. Flemish Paintings of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Illustrated Summary Catalogue 1/2, Prague 2000, p. 215, under cat. no. 226.
Ertz dates this work to around 1620.3 De Momper’s confident handling is evident not only in his rendering of depth but also in his evocation of the atmospheric conditions of the day. The subtle light – a hallmark of his finest work – distinguishes the picture from the other versions. No rays break through the clouds; instead De Momper paints the sun’s diffuse glow, seen for instance in the contrast of light and shadow on the snow-covered church roof. Most delicate of all is the panorama that stretches beyond the church, where the village shrouded in mist is depicted with palpable effect.
Two variants painted by De Momper at different moments in his career are known. The first, close in composition to the prime version seen here but painted on a smaller panel that is more horizontal in format and with additional trees to the right, was with Richard Green, London in 1997.4 The other is in the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield. Both are constructed with elements common to our painting – the central church, the pair of houses to the far left, the bridge to the right – but the Sheffield picture alters the staffage considerably and is less refined overall. The cart in the foreground, for example, which is the work of Jan Brueghel the Elder – who also painted the other figures – is replaced with two conspicuously large characters setting out for a day’s hunting, ascribed by Ertz to a follower of Sebastian Vrancx.5 By contrast, in our picture, the crisply drawn figures by Brueghel complement perfectly De Momper’s own distinctive handling.
The copy, formerly in the collection of Prince Wilhelm Florentin Salm-Salm, Archbishop of Prague (1745–1810) is executed on canvas. Of larger dimensions, it differs from our panel in a number of details and in its overall quality.6 Ertz lists it in his catalogue raisonné under ‘Erroneus attributions’ and assigns it to Joos’ nephew Frans de Momper.7Acquired in 1811 by the Národni Galerie, Prague, it remains there to this day. For a brief period in their history, our picture and the copy were displayed on the walls of the same national collection.
1. Prague, Národni Galerie, inv. no. O 8269.
2. See The Burlington Magazine, under Literature.
3. K. Ertz 1986, under Literature, pp. 578–79, cat. no. 410.
4. Panel, 49.5 by 82.5 cm., ibid., p. 1587, no. 775, reproduced (as 1615–20).
5. Panel, 57.8 by 81.3 cm. See Ertz, op. cit., p. 587, no. 448, reproduced p. 588 (as end of 1620s).
6. Inv. no. O 64; 69 by 102 cm.
7. Reproduced in K. Ertz 1986, under Literature, p. 290, fig. 344; pp. 650–51, no. A 191. See also K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz 2008–10, under Literature, p. 1588, under no. 777.