The Artistry of the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age

Launch Slideshow

The 17th century, also known as the Golden Age in the Northern and Southern Netherlands, saw a remarkable variety of subject matter as artists created works both for private patrons and the open market. To meet the demand from a diverse clientele, the Dutch and Flemish Masters excelled in portraiture, landscapes and history paintings. An exciting range of works coming to auction in May show just that, with wonderful examples that epitomize the artistry of the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age.

The Artistry of the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age

  • The Master of the Female Half-Lengths, Mountainous Landscape with Elijah Nourished by an Angel and a Raven. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    The anonymous Antwerp artist or workshop known as the Master of the Female Half-lengths is better known for genre scenes of elegant women, but the master’s output also included detailed landscapes like the present. The rather obscure Old Testament subject is almost hidden amongst contemporary details like Renaissance architecture and the Flemish clothing of the miniature travelers on the path, provided. “Reading” a landscape painting like this was an intellectual and visual challenge and contributed to the demand for fantastical landscapes with subtle religious subjects in 16th century Northern Europe.
  • Attributed to Michael Sweerts, Old Man Smoking a Pipe, Wearing a Turban, Half-Length. Estimate $70,000–90,000.
    Michael Sweerts joined the group of Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome known as the Bamboccianti, who specialized in what were considered "low" subjects in the eyes of Italian academic painters. The present lot showcases Sweerts’ strong chiaroscuro, direct observation and realism, gained from study of live models. The turbaned man appears to lean out of a window and looks quizzically off into the distance just askance of the viewer as he lights his clay pipe. A wisp of smoke escapes his mouth and almost blends in with the soft hair of his gray beard. 
  • Lieve Pietersz. Verschuier, Ships in Moonlight. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This painting is a particularly fine example of the unusual lighting effects depicted by Verschuier in his atmospheric marines. Compared to his sunsets, moonlit nocturnes such as this rarely feature in his œuvre. Verschuier has painted a coastal scene in moonlight, with small vessels and a Dutch merchant flute firing cannon. The water ruffled by a light breeze catches the rays of moonlight, creating a lively pattern of rippling waves captured in the beams of light.
  • Ludolf de Jongh, Portrait of a Young Boy, Full Length, Holding a Kestrel. Estimate $70,000–90,000.
    The elegant young man’s costume suggests a date of circa 1648-50, an increasingly productive period for Ludolf de Jongh, when his portraits were characterized by more animated and colorful features. During the seventeenth century, such full length portraits were reserved for the upper class, and the young sitter’s elevated status is further indicated by his elegant costume and by the exotic bird perched on his hand. Although De Jongh was also skilled as a landscape painter, he sometimes called upon others to assist with this element, as is likely the case in the present work.
  • Flemish School, Last Quarter of the Seventeenth Century, An Allegorical Still Life of Armor, Weapons, Instruments, Vanitas Symbols, and Other Elements and Figures Set Upon a Stone Ledge with an Obelisk and a City Beyond. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    This impressive allegorical scene teeming with various still-life elements has been rendered with a very fine attention to detail. The composition has roots in the allegorical works popularized earlier in the 17th century by artists such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, and it is known in a few other versions also by anonymous hands. The present work is among the best quality of the known iterations.
  • Arnold Boonen, Portrait of the Geelvinck Children: Nicolaas (1706-1764), Cornelis (1705 - ?) and Catharina Jacoba Geelvinck (1710-1759). Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    This charming portrait depicts the three youngest children of Lieve Geelvinck and his first wife, Agatha Theodora van Bambeeck. The rug, parrot, and fruits suggest the Geelvinck family's wealth, and the parrot additionally signifies that children mimic their elders. A student of Godfried Schalcken, Arnold Boonen excelled at portraiture and depicted important political figures of his day, including the Prince and Princess of Orange and Peter the Great of Russia.
  • Sebastiaen Vrancx, The Plundering of the Village of Wommelgem. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This dynamic and detailed depiction of an historical event from the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) is an early work by the Flemish artist Sebastiaen Vrancx, a pivotal artistic figure in the development of battle and cavalry scenes in the Low Countries during the early seventeenth century. Vrancx recorded the sacking of Wommelgem by troops of the Dutch Republic on 26 May 1589 after the villagers refused to pay tribute. This particular event captured the imagination of Vrancx throughout his career, and he returned to this subject on a number of occasions on panel and on paper, always including the village’s iconic church tower and the distinctively bent tree.
  • Ferdinand Bol, Portrait of a Gentleman, Facing Right, in Front of a Red Curtain, with a Landscape Beyond. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Ferdinand Bol, one of Rembrandt’s most talented students, painted this mature and elegant portrait in 1661, at the height of his success within the genre. The handsome sitter, with his engaging eyes and pleasing countenance, looks towards the audience with an air of familiarity and holds his arm akimbo confidently.
  • Salomon Van Ruysdael, A Dune Landscape with Figures and a View of Nijmegen Cathedral. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Salomon van Ruysdael was one of the leading figures in landscape painting of the Dutch Golden Age and invented distinct pictorial tools to create harmonious compositions that beautifully captured the landscape of his native country. The present painting is typical of his works from his prolific period beginning in the 1630s. A soft, golden light sets the tone for the dune scene, enlivened by subtle tones of green and blue.
  • Cornelia Toe Boecop, Portrait of Ott Van Bronckhorst, Three-Quarter Length, Wearing a Cape. Estimate: $30,000–50,000.
    This portrait depicts Ott van Bronckhorst, who married the artist’s first cousin, Johanna van Harderwijck, in 1590. Though only a handful of works by Toe Boecop are known, it is likely that she painted more portraits of people from her direct circle, as she was born into a noble family. Woman artists were relatively rare in the 17th century, but the popularity of portraiture, genre painting, and still life in Northern Europe gave them opportunities to paint accessible subjects.

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