Property from the SØR Rusche Collection
CLAES CORNELISZ. MOEYAERT
Durgerdam 1591 - 1655 Amsterdam
MERCURY AND ARGUS SURROUNDED BY ANIMALS IN A LANDSCAPE
signed and dated lower right: CL Moeyart / 1623 (CL in ligature)
oil on oak panel
unframed: 32.5 x 42.9 cm.; 12¾ x 16⅞ in.
framed: 46.5 x 57 cm.; 18¼ x 22½ in.
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The panel is uncradled, flat and stable. The paint surface is clean, and the varnish slightly discoloured. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals retouchings scattered throughout, with more notable areas in the figures, in the rocks and goat surrounding them, and in the upper right corner. In overall good condition.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Possibly sold anonymously, Paris, Joullain Fils, 30 March 1772, lot 230;
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 25 January 2001, lot 122, when acquired.
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, At Home in the Golden Age, 9 February – 18 May 2008, no. 94;
Hamburg, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Die Geburt des Kunstmarktes. Rembrandt, Ruisdael, van Goyen und die Künstler des Goldenen Zeitalters, 23 September 2017 – 7 January 2018, no. 80.
The SØR Rusche Collection has been exhibited extensively over the last two decades. Please click here for further information.
Possibly H. Mireur, Dictionnaire des ventes d'art, vol. V, Paris 1911, p. 303;
A. Tümpel, 'Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert. Katalog der Gemälde', in Oud Holland, vol. 88, 1974, p. 265, cat. no. 164 or 165;
W. Pijbes, M. Aarts, M. J. Bok et al., At Home in the Golden Age, exh. cat., Zwolle 2008, p. 98, cat. no. 94, reproduced in colour;
H.-J. Raupp (ed.), Historical and Allegorical Pieces, Niederländische Malerei des 17. Jahrhundert der SØR Rusche Sammlung, vol. IV, Münster 2010, pp. 260-64, cat. no. 42, reproduced in colour;
F.W. Kaiser and M. North, Die Geburt des Kunstmarktes. Rembrandt, Ruisdael, van Goyen und die Künstler des Goldenen Zeitalters, exh. cat., Munich 2017, p. 124, cat. no. 80, reproduced in colour.
Moeyaert was one of Rembrandt’s most prolific and competitive contemporaries in Amsterdam. This is the earliest dated history painting by the artist, and exemplifies the narrative art of the so-called ‘Pre-Rembrandtists.’
The subject comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Jupiter falls in love with Io, a priestess in the service of his wife Hera. To save Io from Hera’s ensuing wrath, Jupiter transforms her into a white heifer, but Hera, wise to the plan, puts the cow under the guard of Argus, her shepherd who has one hundred eyes. In return, Jupiter thwarts Hera’s scheme by commanding his son Mercury, disguised as a shepherd, to lull Argus to sleep with an enchanted flute and thus free Io. In this work, Argus has succumbed to the spell of the music and Mercury is on the point of drawing his sword to slay the shepherd.
The temple here bears some similarity to the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, and the motif appears in others of Moeyaert’s paintings.