Lot 104
  • 104

Hendrick van Balen the Elder, Jan Brueghel the Elder

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Hendrick van Balen the Elder
  • The Feast of the Gods, possibly The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis
  • oil on copper
  • 4 1/4 by 6 in.
  • 11 x 15.3 cm


Don Alfonso de Rojas, Alicante, 1928;
Private collection, Switzerland, 1998;
Private collection, France, 2004;
With Galerie Bernheimer, Munich, by 2007.


K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Pieter Brueghel il Giovane (1564–1637/8): Jan Brueghel il Vecchio (1568–1625): tradizione e progresso: una famiglia di pittori fiamminghi tra Cinque e Seicento, exh. cat., Lingen 1998, p. 196, under cat. no. 57, reproduced fig. 1;
K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568–1625). Kritischer Katalog der Gemälde, Lingen 2008–10, vol. II, p. 811, cat. no. 406, reproduced in colour p. 813.


The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Hendrick van Balen the Elder & Jan Breughel the Elder The Feast of the Gods The copper support is stable and the paint layer is secure. The paint layer is very well preserved. Minor restored loss can be detected in the upper left corner, to the elbow of the second standing figure from the left, to the navel of the seated woman holding a glass to the right and to the navel of the seated woman in blue mantle on the left. There is minor loss around the extreme edges of the panel. Some of the more delicate shadows have been slightly compromised . Overall, the painting is in very good original condition, the paint texture is well preserved and the colours retain their vibrancy. The varnish is discoloured and degraded and it's removal will improve the tonality.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Hendrick van Balen turned to the subject of 'The Feast of the Gods', a theme that originated in antiquity and saw particular popularity in the last decades of the sixteenth century in Northern Europe, on a number of occasions in collaboration with both Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan Brueghel the Younger.

Klaus Ertz attributes this jewel-like painting in large part to Van Balen, while acknowledging the hand of Jan Brueghel the Elder in the small landscape and still life details. He suggests that this was possibly the preliminary version for the composition which is repeated almost exactly in a larger copper, signed by Van Balen, in which the number of figures is slightly reduced and the table is brought further toward the edge of the picture plane (Swiss private collection).1 Ertz dates both paintings to circa 1608, following other collaborative works of similar subjects at this time, such as The Wedding Banquet of Bacchus and Ariadne (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden; inv. no. 919), which likewise shares many compositional similarities.2 

1. 29.5 x 41.3 cm.; see Ertz 2008–10, p. 811, cat. no. 405, reproduced in colour p. 812. In Bettina Werche's monograph, the entry on the Swiss painting lists a copy, of similar dimensions to the present work, as having been offered in Paris, Drouot, 28 March 1990, lot 91, but no painting matching this description or dimensions appears to be listed in the auction catalogue. See B. Werche, Hendrick van Balen (1575–1632): Ein Antwerpener Kabinettbildmaler der Rubenszeit, Turnhout 2004, vol. I, p. 183, under cat. no. A117.
2. See Ertz 2008–10, pp. 690–94, cat. no. 337, reproduced in colour p. 691.