Lot 45
  • 45

Pieter Thijs

50,000 - 70,000 EUR
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  • Pieter Thijs
  • Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Oil on its original canvas
    Previously attributed by a label on the back of the canvas to Gaspard de Crayer


A l'oeil nu, le tableau se présente dans un état de conservation satisfaisant. Il est toujours sur sa toile d'origine et l'on remarque à l'arrière une couture de toile, verticale. Cette couture est très peu visible du côté pictural. On remarque que la toile est légèrement distandue sur le châssis. Le tableau est sous un vernis très encrassé. On remarque quelques craquelures, un peu plus prononcées vers la droite dans le fond de paysage. On remarque une fine déchirure de la toile, horizontale, de dix centimètres de longueur dans la partie supérieure, légèrement à gauche, au niveau de l'aile de l'ange. On remarque une déchirure horizontale d'environ dix centimètres siys la jambe d'Isaac. A la lampe UV : le tableau est sous un vernis vert épais uniforme. On remarque une restauration au niveau de la déchirure en bas, déjà signalée. To the naked eye, the painting is in a reasonnably well preserved condition. It is still on its original canvas and we can see at the back of the chassis a vertical stitch. The stitch is bearly visible from the other side. We can see that the canvas is slightly loosened. The painting is under a very dirty varnish. We can see few cracks a bit deeper at the right of the composition in the background of the landscape. We can see a 10 cm thin horizontal tear in the upper part at the left of the composition near by the angel's wing. We also see an approximately10 cm long tear under Isaac's leg. Under the UV light : the painting is under a thick uniform varnish. We can see the restoration around the tear already notified under Isaac's leg.
"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

Previously unknown, this painting presents an original composition on a theme very popular with the painter's contemporaries. Referring to Rembrandt's format of the same subject, he submits a tight layout on the dramatic action of Isaac's sacrifice. The neck forms the convergence point for the lines shaped by the angel's right shoulder and Abraham's knife and other by his left arm, and of the diagonal created by the exchange of glances between the angel and the old man. This meeting of the eyes creates a tension framed by the movement of gestural hands, evoking The Sacrifice of Isaac by the same painter in the St. James Church in Antwerp. The expressive hands of our painting evoke those of a Anthony van Dyck, seen in Double Portrait of Painter Frans Snyders and His Wife (1621) in the collections of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel, and in his Self Portrait housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1620-21). These hands by Pieter Thijs transmit the surprise and the fatal gesture about to fall on Isaac, but also the divine word delivered by the angel who points to the heavens.
Influenced by his master van Dyck for his inclination for refined portraits with powerful and varied chromatic effects, the painter is above all, as J. Douglas Stewart outlines a Rubens' heir, especially in his use of the lively and vibrant touch and the monumental Italian style mixed with the Flemish approach. The angel's emaciated face with the long nose and straight and lowered eyebrows is present in many of his works and was that of a recurrent model employed by Thijs, which one finds in Daedalus and Icare (1655-60), Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, previously attributed to our painter. However, since 2014 is traced to van Dyck. This model was also used in his Virgin Mary and Child with Donors (1655-60) in the Church of Saint Benignus of Arc-en-Serras. The study published in ArtMatters in 2014 suggests that this face, which is repeated both in the works of Pieter Thys and of Anthony van Dyck, is that of the latter, which the Self Portraits of Rubenshuis, Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, or that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art seem to prove.
Originally from Antwerp and active during the Dutch Golden Age, Pieter Thijs led a brilliant career that enabled him to work for prestigious patrons such as Archduke Leopold William of Austria, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands and the Orange-Nassau house in The Hague. He was registered with the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp after 1644, and held upper positions such as treasurer, councilor, and coordinator of charities. Seventy years after the painter's death, the art historian Jean-Baptiste Descamps brought the last laurels that the Flemish painter lacked, evoking his compositions as "a lot of spirit, his vibrant colors, and his lively manner". In spite of this glorious past, art history has retained but little information about Thijs who was among the last pupils of van Dyck. Danielle Maufort's thesis published in 2005 seems to reestablish the artist's role in his time and the virtuosity of his skill which repeatedly pushed history to see van Dyck's imprint in his works, as in 1986 when the Agnes Etherington Art Centre acquired an alleged copy of van Dyck, Esther and Ahasuerus, in fact it was an original composition by Pieter Thijs.