Lot 20
  • 20

Sebastiaen Vrancx

150,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Sebastiaen Vrancx
  • Autumn, market scene in the heart of a village
  • signed on the bag of apples lower left with the monogram SV [in ligature]
  • oil on panel


Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 5 April 1990, lot 106.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work has been recently restored. The panel is cradled and flat with a stable paint layer. The sky has received the bulk of the retouching, which addresses some thinness and cracks in the panel. There is considerably less retouching in the landscape, foreground and figures; almost all of the retouching here is focused on a series of horizontal joins and cracks through the center of the composition. If some of the retouching to the cracks in the panel were adjusted, the work could be hung in its current condition.
"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

By the early 1620s, when he painted this panel, Vrancx was firmly established in the artistic hierarchy of  Antwerp.  He was a member of the Fraternity of SS. Peter and Paul, a select society among whose other members was Rubens, and in 1612-13 was selected chief dean of the Antwerp guild of St. Luke.  He was known for his battle scenes and landscapes, but among his most popular subjects were his allegories of the Months and Seasons.  This genre, which ultimately derived from manuscript illustrations, is perhaps best known to us today through the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Here we see Vrancx at the height of his powers, defining landscape, architecture and figures all with a clear and lively hand.  He sets the scene in a village, the main street lined with houses, some shops and two churches.  However, in the midst of it all, rising behind the winepress in the center of the composition, he also adds a tall, reddish tower.  This is, in fact, based on the Torre delle Milizie, which  Vrancx would have seen during his stay in Rome from about 1595 to 1601.  In the left middle distance is a man plowing a field and another sowing seeds.  The foreground is dominated by townspeople  buying and selling apples and finches and, to the right, a man bringing grapes to be pressed for wine – all autumnal activities.  

Vrancx often reused motifs, both architectural and figural, in his various representations of the Seasons. The figure of the bearded man buying birds is repeated with some variation in a smaller panel of Harvesting Grapes:  An Allegory of Autumn (Sotheby’s London, 12 December 2002, lot 11), which is one of a recorded set of the Four Seasons.1 In other cases, Vrancx presents an entirely different interpretation of the subject.  In Autumn, sold at Sotheby’s, London, 9 December 2009, lot 7, Vrancx set the scene in an open space near a field, the focus on a man seated on the ground surrounded by heaps of all the fruits of Autumn.  Vrancx's continuous recreation and reinvention of familiar subjects is a testament to his imagination and creativity.  

1.  See F. Lugt, Inventaire Général des Dessins des Écoles du Nord, publié les Auspices du Cabinet des Dessins:  École Flamande, vol. II, Paris 1949, p. 77, under no. 1388.