Abingdon sale, London, Sotheby's, 7 June 1928, lot 115, for £1500 to M. J. Isaacs (as Pieter Brueghel the Younger);
With Paul Cassirer, London;
Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, Schloss Rohoncz, by 1929;
His daughter Baroness Gabrielle Bentinck-Thyssen, her sale, London, Sotheby's, 6 December 1995, lot 88 (as follower of Pieter Bruegel the Elder);
By whom sold ('The Property of a Nobleman'), London, Sotheby's, 10 April 2003, lot 10, when acquired by the present owner (as follower of Pieter Bruegel the Elder).
Lausanne, Fondation de L'Hermitage; Paris, Musée Marmottan; Tokyo, Kumamoto-Toyama-Miyagi; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Luxembourg, Musée de l'État, La Collection Bentinck-Thyssen, 1986–87, no. 8 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder).
G. Glück, Brueghels Gemälde, Vienna 1931, no. 73 (as Pieter Brueghel the Younger);
C. de Tolnay, Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien, Brussels 1935, p. 97, no. 60 (as attribution uncertain);
M. J. Friedländer, Die Altniederländische Malerei, vol. XIV, Leiden 1937, p. 60, no. 32 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder);
R. Heinemann, Sammlung Schloss Rohoncz, Zurich 1937, vol. I, no. 62;
G. Jedlicka, Pieter Bruegel, Der Maler in seiner Zeit, Zurich 1938, p. 540 (as attribution doubtful);
V. Denis, Tutta la pittura di Pieter Bruegel, Milan 1952, p. 34 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder);
G. Glück, Das Grosse Bruegel-Werk, Vienna 1951 [check], no. 88 (as Brueghel the Younger);
P. Roberts-Jones et al., Bruegel: the Painter and his world, 1969, p. 99 (under former attributions);
P. Bianconi, The Complete Paintings of Bruegel, Milan 1969, p. 105, no. 43 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and datable to '1565?');
M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. XIV, Leiden and Brussels 1976, p. 45, no. 33, reproduced pl. 41 (as Pieter Bruegel the Elder);
P. and F. Roberts-Jones, Pierre Bruegel l'Ancien, Paris 1997, p. 328 (under 'Attributions anciennes ou récentes');
K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere, Lingen 2000, vol. I, p. 289, vol. II, p. 913, cat. no. A1277 (as not by Pieter Brueghel the Younger).
Friedländer reproduced the painting as it appeared following the removal of overpaint in 1930 (fig. 1). The illustration shows the extent of the damage to the background and foreground. The principal paint loss is predominantly limited to the ground behind the figures to the left and immediately in front of them to the right. The figures themselves, though worn in parts, seem to have largely escaped the problem that caused these losses. We can thus appreciate the very fine nature of the draughtsmanship of the figures, their gesture, and the fine detail of the execution of certain faces. They are very comparable to those that populate the late works of Bruegel, especially those of The Peasant Dance in Vienna.1 The artist responsible for this painting clearly had a close working knowledge of the master’s work and continued to work in that style after Bruegel’s death. As such, it is one of surprisingly few works in this manner, painted in the immediate aftermath of Bruegel’s death, that have survived.
Dendrochronological analysis of the three horizontal planks of eastern Baltic oak that make up the support was carried out in the autumn of 2016. The latest ring present in the lower plank is sapwood and is datable to 1566. The last rings of the upper two planks are heartwood and are datable to 1562 and 1563. Adding the standard minimum eight years of expected sapwood growth to the last registered ring of heartwood in the upper two planks suggests a usage date of 1571 or after.
Friedländer and Michel drew attention to a reduced copy formerly in the Mrs Dr Salomomsohn collection, Berlin, and later in the Delaroff Gallery in St Petersburg, which depicts only the tavern door on the right of the composition.2 Michel also mentions a copy formerly with Cassirer in Berlin.
1. Friedländer 1976, reproduced plate 55.
2. See respectively M. J. Friedländer, Pieter Bruegel, Berlin 1921, p. 111 and Michel 1931, p. 80.
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