Lot 108
  • 108

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Pieter Brueghel the Younger
  • A village street
  • signed lower left: P. BREUGHEL
  • oil on oak panel


Anonymous sale, London, Christie's South Kensington, 26 October 1989, lot 199 (as follower of Brueghel);
Anonymous sale, The Hague, Glerum, 25 November 1991, lot 160;
Anonymous sale, Vienna, Dorotheum, 4 November 1992, lot 143, for OS 1,000,000 to the present owner.


K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere - Die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Lingen 2000, vol. II, pp. 18, 825, no. E1125, reproduced fig. 660 (as by Pieter Brueghel the Younger).


The panel, consisting of a single plank, is uncradled. The surface is flat. There is craquelure in several places, most pronounced at upper right, but has been secured. Retouching can be seen around the lower foliage of the tree and to infilling in the craquelure at upper right. This is confirmed by inspection under ultraviolet light. The work is offered in a carved and stained wood frame in excellent condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Late in his career, perhaps around 1630, Pieter Brueghel the Younger seems to have turned to painting small and unpretentious scenes of peasant villages of an unusually humble and direct nature. This late creative phase of his career represents a distinct change from the highly successful repetitions of his father’s famous designs that had secured the fame and fortune of his prolific studio in Antwerp. In them we find an engagingly sympathetic approach to life in the countryside, with the figures, both young and old, reduced to a smaller scale, but still engaged in everyday scenes. These late landscapes seem to have been quite personal in character, for each scene is known in only a few versions, and all are free of the prolific repetition that characterised much of his studio’s output. No other versions of this particular composition are known. As Ertz observes, in size and format it is very comparable to another signed panel The outdoor repast formerly with Johnny van Haeften in London, which he dates to after 1616.1

The sources for this personal direction in Brueghel’s late works seem to have had their roots in the preceding century. Unlike so much of his œuvre they are not directly dependent upon the designs of his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525–69). The closest analogy and a possible source of inspiration would be the work of the so-called ‘Master of the Small Landscapes’, an artist or group of artists active in Antwerp in the middle of the 16th century. This hand, or more accurately hands, was responsible for a series of landscape drawings from which forty-four etchings were made, probably by the brothers Jan and Lucas Doetechum, and published in Antwerp by Hieronymous Cock. The first series of plates, entitled Multifarium Consularum and numbering fourteen in all, was published in 1559, and a second, consisting of thirty plates under the title Praediorum villarum published in  1561. The original drawings have been attributed, inter alia, to Hans Bol (1534–93), Mathijs Cock (c. 1505–48), Cornelis van Dalem (c. 1530–73/6), and of course, Pieter Brueghel the Elder himself.5 They are distinguished on the one hand by their humble and rural subject matter, which consisted of the manors and villages around Antwerp, and on the other by their noticeable lack of figures, a very considerable contrast to the teeming fantasies and panoramic constructs of the pre-eminent ‘World Landscape’ tradition. Ertz has correctly pointed out the affinity between Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s late landscapes such as this and a number of the drawings within the Master of the Small landscapes group.2

1. Panel, signed, 25 by 34 cm. Ertz 2000 p. 823, no. E 1109, reproduced in colour plate 659.

2. Ertz 2000, pp. 806-808, figs. 654–57.