Property from a Private Collection | 私人收藏
MARTEN VAN CLEVE THE ELDER | The Procession of the Bride; The Procession of the Groom; The Wedding Feast; The Blessing of the Marriage Bed | 老馬騰・凡・克萊費 | 《新娘隊伍》；《新郎隊伍》；《婚宴》；《婚床祝福》
Property from a Private Collection
MARTEN VAN CLEVE THE ELDER
Antwerp circa 1527 - before 24 November 1581
The Procession of the Bride; The Procession of the Groom; The Wedding Feast; The Blessing of the Marriage Bed
a set of four, all oil on panel
each: 26 x 37.3 cm.; 10¼ x 14½ in.
各幅：26 x 37.3公分；10 ¼ x 14 ½英寸
The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
Marten van Cleve
Oil on panel, in black and gilt wood frames in good condition
The Procession of the Groom
The oak support is in a stable and flat condition. It has no splits or joins.
The support is cradled. There is no movement within the cradle and it is, therefore, applying unnecessary tension to the panel.
The paint layer is stable and secure and is in a good preserved condition.
Under u-v light a scattering of restorations can be seen to the edges of the panel, where minor loss has occurred, and to the sky to reduce minor loss and thinness.
Further minor scattered loss can be seen across the surface.
Natural transparency of the thinly applied paint has allowed under drawing to be revealed.
Minor wear to the vulnerable shadows of the figures can be detected.
The paint texture is very well preserved and the colours are strong and saturate well.
Removal of the discoloured varnish would improve the tonality.
The Bridal Procession
The oak support is in a flat and stable condition. The support is cradled and there is no discernible movement within the cradle.
The paint layer is very well preserved.
There has been some slight reduction of discoloration in the sky and to some thinness through the tree trunk to the left hand edge and the Bride's hair.
Very slight restored loss to the edges can be seen.
Overall, in a very good preserved condition. Similarly, removal of the varnish would improve tonality and reveal chromatic depth
Similar to above structurally.
The paint layer is mostly stable and secure and in very good preserved original condition.
Visible is a slight horizontal fracture through the wood grain and affecting the heads of the three facing seated figures. The paint is raised along the fracture with minor recent loss and associated recent restoration.
Some of the edges of the panel have some minor restored loss.
Overall, in a very good state. Removal of a discoloured varnish would improve the tonality.
The Wedding Bed
The cradling to the oak support is similar to above. It is also rigid and imparts a tension to the panel.
The paint layer is very well preserved and, under u-v light, only a scattering of minor restorations across the surface can be detected.
The removal of the discoloured varnish would improve the tonality and reveal colours that are strong and details that are intact.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."
Private collection, since the early 20th century;
Anonymous sale (‘The Property of a Lady’), London, Christie’s, 6 July 2010, lot 12;
There acquired by the present owner.
K. Ertz, Marten van Cleve 1527–1581, Lingen 2014, p. 200, nos 143–46, reproduced (with incorrect provenance).
Marten van Cleve became a Master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke between 1551 and 1552, at the same time as Pieter Bruegel the Elder. He probably set up his own independent workshop around 1555/6, where he specialized particularly in low-life scenes such as kermesses and peasant weddings and dances as in the present pictures. Although his paintings in this vein were much indebted to the example of his more famous contemporary, Van Cleve’s surviving work show him to have been an original and independent painter in his own right. Like Bruegel the Elder his works were themselves copied and proliferated by the next generation of painters in Antwerp, most notably the former’s son Pieter Brueghel the Younger. These panels are typical of Van Cleve’s work and depict a series of episodes from a peasant or country wedding. In the first panel we see the procession of the smiling and demure young bride and her family to the church, while in the second the bridegroom, similarly escorted by friends and family, gestures anxiously towards the church, whither he has to be pushed on his way by an older kinsman. The third panel depicts the wedding feast itself, with the young bride, crowned as queen of the day, surrounded by feasting revelers. Her cheerful demeanour, however, has visibly altered in the last panel to one of panic, as she is being dragged towards the marriage bed by her family even as it is being blessed by the local priest. The appearance of her new husband at the door, visibly drunk and staggering with a large beer jug, suggests that her misgivings are not entirely ill-founded.
This one of three such sets of wedding paintings by Van Cleve and his shop that have come down to us, and seemingly much the best in quality. The largest of these groups is a set of six panels formerly in the collection of Johann Arnold Freiherr von Schütz-Leerodt, and today in a private collection in Antwerp.1 This set includes the additional scenes of the bride receiving her wedding gifts, a variation of the blessing of the marital bed, and an implausibly connected panel depicting a lover’s departure. A second set, since broken up, in which the wedding gifts are added and the blessing of the marital bed and the departing lover are omitted, was sold London, Sotheby’s, 9 April 1986, lot 30.2 A fourth set of five panels (present whereabouts unknown) also includes this last scene, as well omitting the procession of the groom to the church and replacing it with a wedding dance.3 The general level of quality here, however, does not rise above that of workshop production, and the group altogether lacks the same sense of humour shown in the others. The survival of numerous replicas or variants of some of the scenes (notably the wedding celebrations) suggests that there may have originally been many more such sets, or that their popularity was such that they were produced as individual subjects in their own right. At least two of the scenes, the Procession of the bride and the Procession of the groom, were copied by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1637/8) and his workshop. Good examples, formerly at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Fine Art, Kansas City, are now in a private collection.4 Though smaller in number than these other groups, there is no reason to suggest that these panels were once part of a larger group. Their notably high quality may well stem from their much smaller scale than the others, and the greater concentration on details and more intimate mood that it allows.
1 All oil on panel, each 33.7 x 68.6 cm. See Ertz 2014, vol. II, p. 199, nos 137–42, reproduced.
2 All oil on panel, 43 x 76 cm. G. Marlier, Pierre Brueghel le Jeune, Brussels 1969, pp. 342–43, figs 207–10; Ertz 2014, vol. II, p. 201, nos 147–51, all reproduced.
3 Sold London, Christie’s, 8 July 2005, lot 23 (as a follower of Marten van Cleve).
4 K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere, Lingen 2000, vol. II, p. 699, nos 807 and 808, reproduced figs 499 and 500.