P & D Colnaghi & Co. Ltd. brings a comprehensive selection of works from the major schools of European painting from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries to the 20th International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show. Otto Naumann Ltd, New York, will also be exhibiting with Colnaghi this year. Highlights include a seventeenth century classical allegory by Nicolas Colombel as well as a fine still-life study by Jan Brueghel the Younger. Katrin Bellinger at Colnaghi will be also bringing a selection of Old Master Drawings to New York for an Exhibition of Old Master Drawings at W. M. Brady & Co. Inc., from 15th – 31st October to coincide with the Fair.
There is an exceptional depiction of Cupid & Psyche by Nicholas Colombel (Sotterville-lès-Rouen 1644 – 1717 Paris) on the Colnaghi stand this year, which is thought to have been exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1699. One of the last great Poussinists of the seventeenth century, Colombel is known for his clean classicism, meticulous technique and vibrant colours. Like many artists of his generation, he travelled to Rome in his youth to study the works of the great masters; especially those of Raphael and Poussin, whose paintings and drawings he copied. In Italy by 1680, Colombel was elected into the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1686. By 1693, he was back in Paris, where he was elected into the Académie Royale the following year and appointed a professor in 1701. A painting of Cupid and Psyche was amongst Colombel’s pictures exhibited in the Salon of 1699, and it is very likely that the Colnaghi version is the painting referred to.
Only three of Colombel’s canvases are firmly dated, therefore it is difficult to place Cupid and Psyche within the main body of his work. One firm point of reference is the artist’s signed and dated Bacchus and Ariadne of 1699 (Private Collection, Paris); with which our work shares the same overall style, mise-en-scene and classical subject matter. Additionally the two heroines have the same painting of facial type (and indeed hairstyle), while the classical features of Cupid resemble those of Bacchus, albeit in a younger version. The rendering of the light and somewhat muscular figural types of the present work also find parallels in Colombel’s Atalanta and Hippomenes (formerly with Colnaghi), which may also be identifiable with a painting of that title exhibited at the Salon of 1699.
Another very fine French painting on the Colnaghi stand is the The Portrait of Monsieur de Buissy, one of the finest works by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725 –1802), which until recently was in the collection of the sitter’s ancestors. The son of a surgeon, Duplessis travelled to Rome where he is believed to have studied with Pierre Subleyras. He became Court Painter to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after 1769. Other sitters include the sculptor Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain (1774) and the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1775). Duplessis’ style was greatly influenced by some of the great French court portrait-painters who preceded him, such Largilliere, Rigaud and Nattier.
The Low Countries are represented by the magnificent work, The Meeting of Joseph and Jacob, a signed masterpiece by Frans Francken the Younger (Antwerp1581-1642 Antwerp) executed in collaboration with the landscape painter Abraham Govaerts (Antwerp1589-1626 Antwerp) and the figure painter Hans Jordaens III (Antwerp c. 1595-1643 Antwerp). All three painters lived in Antwerp during the time of Rubens. Francken was responsible for painting the main figures in the foreground, while Govaerts, who specialized in wooded landscapes, created the scenic backdrop, and Jordaens, best known for his compositions in the manner of Francken the Younger, added the long procession of Israelites with their animals and carriages on the left of the picture. The overall composition would have been decided by Francken, whose lone signature appears on the painting.
Christ’s Descent into Limbo by Herri Met de Bles (Bouvignes or Dinant 1480/1500 – after 1550 Bouvignes or Dinant) is an infernal fantasy inspired by Hieronymous Bosch whose imaginative power is all the more astonishing given the small scale of the panel . Although Herri Met de Bles occupies an important role in sixteenth-century Flemish art, second only to Joachim Patenir, as a pioneer of landscape painting, his vividly imaginative depictions of infernal and fantastic subjects, generally featuring monsters and blast furnaces, such as the present picture, also known as The Harrowing of Hel, are less well-known. This work owes much to the inspiration of his great Flemish precursor Hieronymous Bosch, and it is from this tradition that this small masterpiece hails. One interesting characteristic of de Bles is his habit of “signing” his works with the figure of an owl, visible here in the branches of a tree, which caused the Italians to give him the nickname civetta.
One of the highlights of the still-lifes being exhibited, is an oil on copper by Jan Brueghel the Younger (Antwerp 1601 – 1678 Antwerp), entitled Still life of tulips, roses, narcissus, forget-me-nots, a carnation and other flowers in a glass vase, resting on a table with a sprig of rosemary and an insect. This fine early work by Jan Brueghel the Younger was painted at a time when he was working very closely with his father. Born in Antwerp in 1601, Jan Brueghel the Younger probably trained in the studio of his father, Jan Brueghel the Elder, before travelling to Milan in 1622 to meet his father’s patron, Cardinal Federico Borromeo. The Cardinal was his father’s patron and the man for whom he had painted his first flower piece, the Large Bouquet of Flowers in an Earthenware Vase, now in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan. In the spring of 1624 Jan the Younger went to Palermo with his friend from childhood, Antony van Dyck, but he returned to Antwerp in 1625 at death of his father, two sisters and a brother from cholera. As might be expected, his artistic output was to a large degree based on the models and prototypes of his father and, both before and after the trip to Italy, Jan the Younger continued to draw inspiration directly from his father’s work.
Other fine still-life studies being exhibited include, A still life of flowers and a branch of peaches in a sculpted vase, on a ledge by Jacob van Walscapelle (Dordrecht 1644 – 1727 Amsterdam). This work illustrates how the vanitas theme that was so popular in early examples of the genre had receded and, with the works of van Walscapelle, Ruysch, Mignon and van Huysum, an interest in the decorative overtakes the earlier emphasis on moralizing iconography.