On his brief trip to Rome, Rottenhammer met the Flemings Paul Bril and Jan Brueghel the Elder, two artists with whom he would later collaborate and who, like Rottenhammer, found great success in working on small format cabinet pictures. Rottenhammer's reputation for working in this small format was widespread during his lifetime, Rudolf II being one of the most prized collectors of such works, but his undeniable talent also found its way, albeit very rarely, onto the large scale format of the present canvas. Such examples are relatively unique within his body of work, and only a few others of comparable dimensions are known, most of which seem to have also arisen during his Venetian period such as a canvas dated 1603 of Minerva and the Muses in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg,1 a canvas dated 1597 of the Rape of the Sabines now in a private collection,2 and a canvas depicting the Banquet of the Gods sold at Sotheby's London 3 July 1997 as lot 66.3
While Rottenhammer returned to the theme of the Feast of the Gods on a number of occasions, he most often approached it in a much smaller format. The present composition, in fact, is also known by way of a small autograph variant on copper now in a private collection4 and can be closely compared to Rottenhammer’s celebrated copper of the same subject dated 1600 and now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.5
The present work is very possibly the Göttermahl on canvas listed by Peltzer (see Literature) as formerly being in the Gaillard de Gagny collection. The dimensions Peltzer lists are only slightly smaller than this painting, a difference that could possibly explained by measuring the front of the painting while in its frame.6
1. Inv. no. GM1591, oil on canvas, 186.5 by 308.8 cm. See A. Tacke, Die Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts im Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg 1995, pp. 205-208, cat. no. 101, reproduced fig. 151 and color plate 73.
2. Oil on canvas, 152.4 by 210.8 cm, see H. Borggrefe, Hans Rottenhamer: begehrt - vergessen - neu entdeckt, exhibition catalogue, Munich 2008, p. 118, cat. no. 24, reproduced.
3. Oil on canvas, 169 by 224.8 cm. Two altarpieces on canvas of larger dimensions—370 by 230 and 342 by 220 cm—are recorded in the Allerheiligenkirche am Kreuz in Munich. See Peltzer 1916, p. 348, cat. nos. 60-61.
4. Oil on copper, 50.8 by 71.2 cm. See ibid., p. 22, reproduced fig. 30.
5. Inv. no. 688, oil on copper, 34 by 45 cm. See Ibid., pp. 141-143, cat. no. 44, reproduced p. 142.
6. Peltzer lists the measurements as 4 pouces 6pieds by 6 pouces 5 pieds, which is roughly 137 by 196 cm.
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