PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF J.E. SAFRA
In this painting, the diagonals of the floorboards, the wooden beams of the ceiling, and the panes of the many windows at left draw the eye into a large and impressive interior with elaborately decorated leather wall coverings. A comparable interior of circa 1665 was purchased by King William I for the Mauritshuis in 1827 and remains in that collection today.1 In the present work, twelve elegantly dressed full-length figures are set within this space and gathered in small, contained groups. At left, four men stand near a table covered with remnants of food and drink, and nearby on the floor are scattered five oyster shells. At center, six figures are gathered around a game of backgammon, and next to the fireplace at right are poised two additional men. Although the identity of the twelve men remains unknown, the 1779 sale catalogue describes them as being painters contemporary to van Tilborgh.2
The seven paintings visible in this work, however, are almost all identifiable, and many are currently found in the collections of prominent museums. On the back wall hang three paintings of varying widths but comparable heights. On the left is Jacopo Bassano’s Moses Striking the Rock in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.3 To the right of this work is Jan Both’s Landscape with a Traveller and Drovers on a Road, a Farmhouse, and a Village Beyond, also in the collection of J.E. Safra,4 followed by Cornelis Saftleven’s Market Scene of 1659.5 Framed in gold above the fireplace is Theodoor Rombouts’ Christ Driving the Money Changers out of the Temple in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp,6 and resting atop the chair below appears to be a Still Life with a Lobster once given to Jan Davidsz. De Heem, but now to Johannes Hannot, in the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.7 Leaning against the chair on the floor is a landscape in the style of Bartholomeus Breenbergh, and on the carpeted table at far right is a composition that comes closest to that of Rogier van der Weyden, versions of which can be found in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels and in the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge.8
1. Inv. no. 262, oil on canvas, 80.3 by 104 cm.
2. Described in this catalogue as "une Assemblée de peintres contemporains de cet Artiste, composée de douze Figures. On y voit dans une grande Salle plusieurs Tableaux de différents Maîtres, entre autres sur une chaise posée dans son jour un Tableau à Fruits & Poissons, & au bas un Paysage, sur lesquels ils semblent porter leur jugement."
3. Inv. no. 4305, oil on canvas, 82 by 114 cm.
4. Oil on canvas, 62.3 by 73.6 cm. Sold, London, Christie’s, 3 December 1997, lot 18.
5. Oil on panel, 71.5 by 106.5 cm, signed and dated lower left: Saft leven fec. 1659. Last recorded as being sold Bern, Galerie Stuker, 10-16 November 1960, lot 1028. See W. Schulz, Cornelis Saftleven, Berlin and New York 1978, p. 221, cat. no. 622.
6. Inv. no. 94462, oil on canvas, 168 by 237 cm. See B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, Torino 1989, vol. I, p. 164, reproduced vol. III, plate 1009.
7. Inv. no. 1952.25, oil on canvas, 63.5 by 84.5 cm. See The Toledo Museum of Art: European Paintings, Toledo 1976, p. 75, p. 263, reproduced fig. 125.
8. The former, inv. no. 330, oil on panel, 56.5 by 35.6 cm; the latter, inv. no. 1906.6.A, oil on panel, 55 by 35.5 cm. For both, see L. Campbell and J. van der Stock, Rogier van der Weyden, exhibition catalogue, 2009, pp. 408-410, cat. no. 44, reproduced p. 409 and p. 410, fig. no. 44.1.
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