Lot 21
  • 21

Jan Breughel the Younger

300,000 - 500,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Jan Breughel the Younger
  • Landscape with travelers and bittern hunter
  • inscribed with an inventory number 156 lower left
  • oil on panel


With Galerie Didier Aaron, Paris, 1983.


K. Ertz, Jan Breughel the Younger (1601-1678), Freren 1984, p. 202, cat. no. 19, reproduced color plate 4.


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 painting is in beautiful condition. The panel is a single piece of unreinforced oak. It is slightly curved from top to bottom. The paint layer is stable. The paint layer is clean, well-varnished and retouched. There are retouches in the sky, but they seem to be very conservative. Retouches can only be seen in a few isolated spots under ultraviolet light. It is possible that there are remnants of an older campaign of restorations in the sky in the blue to the left of the bird and in the darker corner in the upper right.
"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

This landscape has been dated by Klaus Ertz to the late 1620s, by which time Jan Breughel the Younger had taken over the studio of his father, Jan Brueghel the Elder, following his sudden death from cholera in 1625.1  Jan the Younger had trained in his father’s workshop from the age of 10 and, as was the custom for many painters from the north, spent several years studying and traveling in Italy.  Upon his return to Antwerp, at age 24, he inherited a large and thriving practice.  We know from his journal that he was immediately successful in his new role, selling paintings left by his father, completing half-finished works, and painting new works in his father’s style.

The composition of this painting is based closely on a work by Jan the Elder, signed and dated 1605, now in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.  It is a striking example of the exquisitely detailed panoramic landscape type perfected by his father and which Jan the Younger continued to produce with great skill.  Here the expansive landscape is punctuated by a procession of peasants in horse drawn carts and other travelers on a path by a small stream.  A number of the figures have stopped and are observing a hunter who has dismounted and can be seen crouching in the reeds by the bank of the stream as he stalks a bittern standing in on the opposite bank.  The landscape rises gently in the middle distance to an illuminated green hill and on the horizon, in shimmering blue, can be seen the buildings and steeple of a distant town.

Another version of this composition by Jan Breughel the Younger, also on panel and of similar dimensions, is in the collection of the Musée de l’Ain, Bourg-en-Bresse.  Ertz dates that version later, to the 1630s.2 Two other paintings by Jan the Younger that clearly derive from the same basic composition, but with variations to the landscape and staffage, are in the Prado Madrid (dateable, like the present work, to the late 1620s), and an earlier version in a German private collection as of 1984 (signed and dated 1612).3 


1.  See K. Ertz, op. cit., p. 202.
2.  See K. Ertz, ibid., p. 203, cat. no. 21, reproduced.
3.  See K. Ertz, ibid., p. 201, cat. no. 18, reproduced color plate 3; and cat. no. 20, reproduced color plate 5.