Lot 102
  • 102

Pieter Claeissens the Elder

60,000 - 80,000 USD
150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pieter Claeissens the Elder
  • Recto:The Visitation;
    Verso: A Bishop Saint
  • oil on panel
  • 18 3/8  by 13 1/4  in.; 46.7 by 33.7 cm. 

Catalogue Note

Pieter Claeissens the Elder presided over a family of successful painters that would be active into the seventeenth century, all of whom enjoyed continual commissions in their native Bruges beginning in 1530, the year in which Pieter became a registered master in the Bruges gild. Claeissens’ style finds parallel in the work Pieter Pourbus, with whom he shared renown during the final flourishing of the golden age of Bruges painting in the sixteenth century.

One side of the present panel depicts the Visitation, a specific composition which Claeissens returned to in a signed version that has yet to be located but is known from photographs. The incredibly free and spirited underdrawing beneath the present version, with its multitude of pentimenti in the face, hands, and drapery of both Anne and the Virgin, suggest that it may be the prime version of the composition.

The technique of the underdrawing (fig. 1) can similarly be compared with other preparatory marks from known Claeissens’ works, for example a signed Saint John at Patmos (private collection) and a Saint Ursula in the Museo de Belles Artes in Oviedo. In each case Claeissens employs a completely distinctive frenzied underdrawing approach, while also utilizing a characteristic pattern of short and long parallel lines to denote shaded areas.

We are grateful to Anne van Oosterwijk for endorsing the attribution to Claeissens, based on examination of the IRR images and color digital photographs.