Lot 25
  • 25

Pieter Brueghel le Jeune

400,000 - 600,000 EUR
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  • Pieter Brueghel le Jeune
  • The Adoration of the Magi in the snow
  • Oil on an oak panel
    Bears on the back the trefoil panel maker's mark and the Antwerp guild mark


Anonymous sale Sotheby's London, 26 April 1950, lot 55 (as Brueghel the Elder) ;
Acquired by William Sabin and Sons, London ;
Collection Huxley, Surrey, 1963 ;
Collection Roger Taverner ;
Collection H.S. de Slowak, Montevideo, 1969 ;
Anonymous sale, Christie's New York, 11 January 1991, lot 74 ;
Anonymous sale, Tajan, Paris, 9 December 1996, lot 12 ;
Acquired there by the present owner


G. Marlier, Pierre Brueghel le jeune, Brussels, 1969, p. 85, n°22 ;
K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jungere (1564-1637/38) die Gemälde mit kritischem Œuvrekatalog, Liugen, 2000, t. 1, p. 3113, n°E244 (nach Beuerteilung eines Fotos in der Witt Library zweifeln wir nicht an der Eigenhändigkeit)


A l'oeil nu, le tableau apparaît dans un très bel état de conservation. Il est peint sur un panneau de chêne constitué de deux planches, renforcé de quatre pièces de bois à l'arrière au niveau de la jonction des planches. Le panneau est parfaitement droit et la matière picturale parfaitement stable. On ne remarque aucun soulèvement de matière. On remarque un très fin réseau de petites craquelures uniforme. On remarque des traces de dessin sous-jacent. Le tableau est sous un vernis largement encrassé. On remarque quelques légères matités de vernis dans les architectures à droite et dans le ciel, dans le coin supérieur gauche. A la lampe UV : le tableau apparaît sous un vernis vert ancien uniforme. On remarque une restauration le long de la jonction horizontale de deux planches traversant le panneau sous les cheminées. On remarque quelques restaurations dans les toits enneigés et quelques reprises ponctuelles dans le coin inférieur gauche. To the naked eye, the painting is in a very good overall condition It is painted on a oaktree panel made of two boards reinforced at its back with four pieces of wood at the junction of the boards. The panel is perfectly straight and the painted surface is perfectly stable. We can not see any lift of painting. We can see a very thin network of uniform cracks. We can see some traces of the under drawing. The painting is under a very dirty varnish. We can see few matness of varnish in the architectures on the right of the composition and in the sky in the upper left corner. Under the UV light : The painting is under an even green varnish. We can see an horizontal restoration all along the junction of the two boards under the chimney tops. We can see few restoration in the roofs and few tiny retouches in the lower left corner.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The painting we present was acquired some twenty years ago by a French collector, a savvy connoisseur of Old Master paintings. Listed since the 1950s, this version of the famous Adoration of the Magi by Pieter Brueghel the Younger was published in the catalogue raisonnée since the first studies on the painter by Georges Marlier in 1969, resumed later by Klaus Ertz (consult Opus quoted above). Its condition, underlying drawing, as well as the beautiful pictorial material are all elements that make our painting a vibrant, engaging work dear to us.
The prototype of this composition, created and executed by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, is now housed at the Oskar Reinhart Foundation in Winterthur, Switzerland. The work on panel, signed and dated 1567 is a work of a great invention and is certainly one of the very first depictions with "under falling snow with big flakes" in art history. It is not certain if Pieter Brueghel the Younger had the opportunity to see his father’s work, but there are thirty-six versions of this composition continued by the "Brueghel Enterprise" justifying the popularity of this interpretation of the Adoration of the Magi (consult The Brueghel Enterprise, Maastricht, Brussels, 2001 - 2002, pp. 149-159). Only three works by the son continue the falling snow motif.
Son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, a genius painter and immense creator, Pieter Brueghel the Younger quickly realized that the works of his father were timeless and popular throughout Europe. He used his talent as a painter at the service of the efficient and poetic repetition of his compositions by developing a technique of rapid production associating tradition and modernity in order to meet the high demand from collectors of the time. For they were so eager to own a work from the Brueghel universe.The painting we present, Adoration of the Magi, is a brilliant illustration of this.
On the verso of our painting is a dry stamp representing a clover. It is the stamp from the panels manufacturer, Michael Claessens. This is an example of the collaboration of the various trades during the 17th century in Antwerp. On the verso of our picture is also the emblem mark from the Antwerp guild, symbol of the master’s approval with the city artists association.