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43

Antwerp School, circa 1615/1620, possibly the young Jacob Jordaens

Diana and Actaeon

A Life of John Richardson: A Scholar Collects

Antwerp School, circa 1615/1620, possibly the young Jacob Jordaens

Antwerp School, circa 1615/1620, possibly the young Jacob Jordaens

Diana and Actaeon

Diana and Actaeon

A Life of John Richardson: A Scholar Collects

Antwerp School, circa 1615/1620, possibly the young Jacob Jordaens

Diana and Actaeon


inscribed on labels on the reverse: Ralph Papé and Villa d'Este/Haseltine

oil on oak panel

panel: 25 ⅜ by 19 ⅛ in.; 64.4 by 48.6 cm.

framed: 46 ¾ by 41 in.; 118.7 by 104.1 cm. 

The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.


This work on panel could be hung in its current condition although some further attention to the slightly unstable paint layer could be considered. The reverse of the panel shows a thin vertical reinforcement through the center of the work, addressing what appears to be an original join between two sections of wood. The work is probably slightly dirty. There is a fresh varnish which illuminates the paint layer well.


Two separate campaigns of retouching are visible when the work is viewed under ultraviolet light. The more recent retouches can be seen in the dark robe of the figure in the upper right, in a few spots in the shoulders of the figure in the center of the right side and in a few spots in the shadowed part of the crimson robe in the lower right. There are also retouches from this campaign along the central crack in the lower half of the panel and a couple of spots in the nude on the left.


An older campaign of retouches can be seen in the horizontal branch in the upper part of the composition, in the two figures on the left side and in a few spots in the figure in the upper left. Most of the retouches are concentrated on the right side and upper center. The work could certainly be hung as is, but would benefit from an overall reexamination of the restoration.


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. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color 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. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Acquired by Feliks Topolski, circa 1950;
Thence by descent;
Anonymous sale ("Property from a Private Collection"), London, Sotheby's, 5 July 2012, lot 236 (as Antwerp School, second decade of the 17th century).

A. Tzeutschler Lurie, in Johann Liss, exhibition catalogue, Augsburg 1976, pp. 65-68, cat. no. A8, reproduced fig. 6 (as Johann Liss);
J. Rowlands, "'Johann Liss' at Augsburg", in The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXVII, no. 873, 1975, pp. 832 and 835 (where an attribution to the young Liss is discussed);
R. Spear, "Johann Liss Reconsidered", in The Art Bulletin, vol. 58, 1976, p. 585, reproduced p. 584, fig. 2 (expressing serious reservations about the painting's attribution to Liss);
R. Klessman, Johann Liss. A Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné, Ghent 1999, p. 193 (as 'Unknown Flemish master'; under Selection of Works Incorrectly Attributed to Liss).
Augsburg, Rathaus; Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, Johann Liss, 2 August 1975 - 7 March 1976, no. A8 (as Johann Liss).

This scene teems with energy, color, and the figural form. It was painted in Antwerp around 1615-1620 by a very accomplished hand. Initially, an attribution to the young Johann Liss was put forward by Sir Denis Mahon, when he first saw the painting in 1973. He suggested Liss may have painted it not long after his arrival in Antwerp from Holland and before his departure for Italy.  This attribution was later endorsed by others including Benedict Nicolson and Erich Schleier, although Dr. Rüdiger Klessman published it under the group of wrongly attributed works in his 1999 monograph on the artist.  


The sheer dynamic quality of the composition, however, suggests a virtuosic hand. The connection to both Rubens and Jordaens in the sensual depiction of nudes is undeniable in this work, and, in fact, an attribution to the young Jacob Jordaens has more recently been proposed. Indeed, the attention paid to the beauty of the human form, with the flesh tones of the figures serving as pleasing contrasts to the opulent elements surrounding them, enlivens the packed and dynamic scene in a manner in keeping with the style of the young Jordaens. Some parallels can be drawn between the present work and a fragment by Jordaens of Moses striking water from the rock of circa 1615. Both compositions are slightly imbalanced and the figural types of both are modeled in a similar fashion. Additionally, the somewhat complicated and agitated poses of the figures in the present work have some resemblance to those found in Jordaens' Lapiths and Centaurs, also of circa 1615, in a private collection.2 


According to the catalogue entry the last time this painting appeared at auction in 2012, technical examinations, including infra-red reflectography, completed on the panel in about 1995 revealed some underdrawing, particularly in the head of the nymph in the right foreground: two attempts at her profile were drawn, neither of which were followed in the final painting.

This composition was engraved in reverse by Jacob Coelemans in 1700 as after Otto van Veen.3


1. https://rkd.nl/explore/images/193058 

2. https://rkd.nl/explore/images/8110

3.  https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1855-0609-734