Lot 2
  • 2

Jan Brueghel the Elder

150,000 - 200,000 USD
162,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • Rocky Forest Landscape with Castle
  • oil on panel, circular


With Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam, by 1933;
B. de Geus van den Heuvel, Nieuwersluis, by 1953;
His deceased sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby's, 26 April 1976, lot 8;
Private collection, The Netherlands;
Waterman Gallery, Amsterdam, 1987.


Amsterdam, Kunsthandel P. de Boer, De Helsche en de fluweelen Brueghel, 10 February – 26 March 1934, no. 59;
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schilderijen der nederlandse- en franse school uit de verzameling van B. de Geus van den Heuvel, Amsterdam, 20 December 1952 – 18 January 1953, no. 14;
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Boom, bloem en plant, 16 July – 31 August 1955, no. 26;
Laren, Singer Museum, Kunstbezit Rondom Laren, 3 July – 31 August 1958, no. 75; 
Arnhem, Gemeente Museum, Collectie B. de Geus van den Heuvel, te Nieuwersluis, 11 December 1960 – 26 February 1961, no. 8;
Laren, Singer Museum, Modernen van toen, 1570-1630, 15 June – 1 September 1963, no. 47;
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum; Utrecht, Centraal Museum, Roelant Savery in seiner Zeit, 28 September 1985 – 16 February 1986, no. 76;
New Orleans 1997, no. 10;
Baltimore 1999, no. 8.


L. van Puyvelde, "Unknown works by Jan Brueghel," in The Burlington Magazine, vol. XLIV, July 1934, p. 21, reproduced plate II, fig. B (as attributed to);
Kunstveiling S.J. Mak van Waay/H.S. Nienhuis, Schilderijen, aquarellen en etsen: Verzameling B. de Geus van den Heuvel, Amsterdam 1963, vol. I, cat. no. 8, reproduced vol. 2, fig. 8;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568-1625), Cologne 1979, p. 569, no. 69;
E. Mai, in Roelant Savery in seiner Zeit: 1576–1639, exhibition catalogue, Cologne 1985, p. 165, cat. no. 76, reproduced p. 188;
New Orleans 1997, pp. 24-25, cat. no. 10, reproduced p. 24;
Baltimore 1999, p. 20, 22, cat. no. 8, reproduced p. 20;
K. Ertz & C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568-1625), vol. I, Lingen 2008, p. 214, 218, no. 90, reproduced p. 216.

Catalogue Note

Datable to circa 1600, this circular panel painting is a charming example of Jan Brueghel the Elder’s woodland landscapes.  Here, Brueghel invites his audience to intimately encounter a dense forest landscape through his refined details as well as his harmonious use of tone and composition.  Although an imaginary landscape, the present work is very much a product of Brueghel’s sojourn throughout Italy in the mid-1590s, as it likely reflects many of the natural wonders he encountered during his travels.

In his 2008 catalogue raisonné on the artist, Klaus Ertz notes that this work, although unsigned, is undoubtedly by Jan Brueghel the Elder.  He draws upon its formal similarities with Brueghel’s Forest Landscape with Castle, a small oil on copper in the Museo del Prado, Madrid (Inv. No. 1385), both works providing comparable glimpses into dense forests (fig. 1).1  Trees frame both foregrounds and the landscapes include small figures attending to daily life, bridges set over gently flowing rivers, and architecture situated atop mountains.  Although imaginary scenes, both works highlight Brueghel’s prowess of using soft variations in tones to reinforce natural and realistic recessions into space.

The present work illustrates a noticeable shift in the artist’s oeuvre that occurred around the turn of the seventeenth century.  No longer does the dense and mountainous forest interior serve as a backdrop for a narrative biblical or mythological scene, as is the case in the artist’s A Wooded Landscape with the Death of Adonis sold at Sotheby’s, New York (30 January 2014, lot 229).  Instead, landscape has become a celebrated subject matter in its own right.  Here, Brueghel’s attention falls, for example, on rendering the lushness of the trees, the gentle flow of the river down the mountainside, and even the small red breasted bird perched atop the long trunk of the tree.  Similarly, the painting displays parallels to the work of Gillis van Coninxloo III (1544-1607), a contemporary Flemish artist known for his transition in the late 1590s from vast landscapes to direct and self-contained portrayals of nature.2

1. Ertz’s confirmation of the attribution arose after he saw these two works alongside each other in the 1985/86 exhibition, Roelant Savery in seiner Zeit (1576-1639) (see exhibited). See also Ertz, 2008, op. cit., p. 214.

2. One of the most famous examples of Gillis van Coninxloo’s landscapes from this period is his Forest Landscape (1598) now in the Liechtenstein Princely Collections, Vienna (Inv. no. GE751).