CIRCLE OF MICHAEL SWEERTS
PLAGUE IN AN ANCIENT CITY
oil on canvas
47⅞ by 66½ in.; 121.6 by 168.9 cm.
The large canvas has an old relining and is stable on its stretcher. It seems to have been made of two pieces of horizontal canvas joined in the lower quadrant. The overall image reads clearly beneath a slightly old and discolored varnish. Some of the details in the background have thinned with age, and some of the reddish ground is visible. Inspection under UV reveals a milky that fluoresces unevenly. Some scattered thin lines and more prominent spots of retouching are visible here and there, including in and around the female figure in the lower right, in the background to the right of the man with upraised hands just right of center, in the upper right background, and near the figure in the lower left, among others. There are some fine strokes and spots of retouching in the figures and shadows throughout, perhaps the most concentrated area visible the figure and the fabric draped in white in the lower quadrant, just left of center. Some scattered strokes are visible in the architecture and sky at upper right. There is retouching visible at all of the extreme edges and corners, as well as along the ground at the lower edge and some loosely applied retouching in the darker background in the upper left. Offered in a simply carved giltwood frame with a gilt liner.
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. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
This painting follows Michael Sweerts' ambitious masterpiece of the same title, formerly in the collection of Saul P. Steinberg1 and now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.2 That painting, also on canvas and of nearly identical dimensions, illustrates Sweerts' admiration for Nicolas Poussin and was among the last paintings he made in Rome, where he worked from 1646 until about 1654-1655. That the present canvas follows the original so closely suggests the artist responsible worked directly in front of Sweerts' own. We are grateful to Dr. Lara Yeager-Crasselt for her assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
1. Sold New York, Sotheby's, January 30, 1997, lot 34.
2. 118.7 by 170.8 cm, inv. no. AC 1997.10.1. See R. Kultzen, Michael Sweerts, Doornspijk 1996, pp. 6, 19, 40, 41, 106-107, cat. no. 63, reproduced in color plate XIX.