63
63
Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem
THE BATTLE BETWEEN ALEXANDER AND PORUS
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 435,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
63
Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem
THE BATTLE BETWEEN ALEXANDER AND PORUS
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 435,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York

Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem
HAARLEM 1620 - 1683 AMSTERDAM
THE BATTLE BETWEEN ALEXANDER AND PORUS
signed lower right: N. Berchem
oil on canvas
43 3/4  by 60 1/4  in.; 111 by 153 cm.
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Provenance

Nicholas van Bremen;
His sale, Amsterdam, 15 December 1766, lot 54;
Sir Robert Price, Bt., M.P., by 1837;
His sale, Foster's, London, 11 June 1856 (235 gns. to Smith for Oppenheim);
Johann Mortiz Oppenheim, Cannon St. West, London;
His sale, Christie's, London, 4 June 1864, lot 39 (175 gns. to Holloway);
E.N.F. Loyd, London;
His sale, London, Christie's, 30 April 1937, lot 86 (90 gns. to Vicars);
With Vicars Brothers, London;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 9 December 1988, lot 97 (£90,000);
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Private Collector"), New York, Sotheby's, 23 January 2003, lot 38, ($344,000);
Anonymous sale ("The Property of an Estate"), New York, Christie's, 8 June 2011, lot 19 ($302,500).

Exhibited

London, British Institution, 1837, no. 47.

Literature

J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné, etc., IX (supplement), London, 1842, p. 609, cat. no. 48.
C. Hofstede de Groot, Verzeichnis der Werke, etc., IX, London, 1926, p. 85, cat. no. 126;
Connoisseur Magazine, April 1939, reproduced plate 100.

Catalogue Note

This dramatic painting, dating from late in Berchem’s career, is a rare historical subject by the artist.  Berchem gained great popularity during his lifetime as a painter of pastoral scenes, hunting parties and seaports, many of which show the influence of his sojourn in Italy.  However, in a departure from his usual subject matter, the artist here depicts the epic Battle of the Hydaspes which took place in 326 B.C. between the armies of Alexander the Great and Porus, a powerful Indian king.

The Battle of the Hydaspes, one of Alexander’s greatest victories, occurred in what is now the Punjab province of Pakistan.  His army crossed the river Jhelum (known to the Greeks as the Hydaspes) to meet Porus’ forces, which outnumbered Alexander's and included a cavalry of fearless war elephants.  Despite these seeming advantages, Porus was defeated and captured.  Alexander, having been impressed by his bravery in battle, allowed Porus to continue governing his territory.  One particularly tragic aftermath of the battle was the death of Alexander’s beloved horse Bucephalus, who had carried him into every one of his battles in Greece and Asia.  Alexander was so grief stricken that he named a city in India, Bucephalia, in his honor.  In Berchem’s depiction of this historic event, he brilliantly depicts the frenzied action at the peak of battle, demonstrating his skill at portraying a highly complex composition with dynamic equestrian groupings.  Berchem must have been pleased with his work given the detailed and large-scale signature at the lower right of the canvas.

Another important historic battle painting depicting The Israelites Capture of Judea, also datable to later in Berchem’s career, is in the Dunkirk Museum.

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York