Lot 4
  • 4

Jan Brueghel the Elder

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • A wooded landscape with figures crossing a bridge
  • oil on oak panel, circular


In the collection of the present owner’s family since before the Second World War.

Catalogue Note

In the years leading up to and around 1600, just after his return to Antwerp from Italy, Brueghel painted a number of small landscapes of circular format, on panels each measuring 21cm in diameter. This is such a work, but one that is exceptional in the group for not being on a religious theme.

Of the group of circular landscapes only two are signed or dated, the Rocky landscape with the Rest on the Flight to Egypt and A wooded landscape with the Temptation of Christ, both of which are dated 1598. Others on the same format are the Sacrifice of Isaac (Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire), another Rest on the Flight to Egypt (Munich, Alte Pinakothek) and a Landscape with a hermit monk (sold London, Christie's, 5 July 2011, lot 32).

Brueghel travelled to Italy in 1589 and remained there until 1596. He worked in Naples, then in Rome under the patronage of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna, and then in Milan for Cardinal Federico Borromeo. The year after his return to Antwerp he was registered in the guild of painters in that city. It is to his Italian years that Brueghel owes the miniaturist landscape technique for which he became famous, working alongside, and drawing influence from, older northern artists who had found success in Italy such as Paul Bril and Hans Rottenhammer.

Tree-ring analysis of the panel indicates that the tree from which the panel was cut was still growing in 1573. Adding to that the minimum expected number of sapwood rings (8 years for Eastern Baltic sourced timbers such as this) suggests that this panel was derived from a tree that was felled after about 1581. For further information on this dendrochronological analysis a full report is available on request.