Lot 33
  • 33

Paul Bril

300,000 - 500,000 USD
317,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paul Bril
  • Mountainous landscape with wildlife around a cascade
  • dated on rock lower right: 1619
  • oil on canvas
  • 27 1/4 x 38 inches


Daniel Burckhardt-Wildt, Basel;
Paul Ganz, Basel, by 1956;
Anonymous sale, Zurich, Koller, 12 November 1976, lot 5052;
Anonymous sale ("Property of a Private European Collector"), New York, Sotheby's, 2 June 1989, lot 35;
There purchased by the present collector.


G.T. Faggin, "Per Paolo Bril," in Paragone, 16, 1965, no. 107;
F. Cappelletti, Paul Bril e la pittura di paesaggioi a Roma 1580-1630, Rome 2005-2006, p. 311, cat. no. 183, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

This beautiful landscape was painted late in Bril's career, by which time he had been in Italy for nearly four decades and had achieved considerable fame.  His work was to be found in the collections of such illustrious patrons as Cardinal Federico Borromeo in Milan, Cardinal Carlo de’Medici in Florence and Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga in Mantua.  In 1620, the year following the date on this painting, he assumed the post of principal of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.

Born in Antwerp, where he received his early training, Bril was in Rome by 1582 and his first known independent works are large-scale fresco cycles, such as Jonah and the Whale in the Scala Santa in the Vatican (1588) and the frescos (circa 1599) in Santa Cecelia in Trastevere, depicting hermit saints in wooded landscapes.  Bril’s landscapes from his formative years in Rome show the marked influence of the refined and highly detailed Flemish style in which he was trained while his later works, after circa 1605, show increasingly the classicizing influence of his Italian contemporaries such as Annibale Caracci.

In this serene waterfall landscape Bril has created an idealized view of nature, devoid of human figures or intervention.  Animals including deer, rabbits, mountain goats, and a variety of birds have all gathered at the cascade.  Even a small lizard can be seen in the foreground at lower left.  G. T. Faggin (see Literature) points out that a very similar picture appears in Willem van Haecht’s painting of 1628 commemorating Archduke Albert and Archduchess Isabella’s 1615 visit to the Kunstkammer of Cornellis van der Geest in Antwerp,1 indicating that Bril’s work was also appreciated and collected by Netherlandish connoisseurs.


1.  Signed and dated 1628, oil on panel, 102.5 by 137.5 cm., Rubenshuis, Antwerp, inv. no. R.H.S. 171.