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Attributed to Jan Brueghel

Auction Lot 35310192
Attributed to JAN BRUEGHEL THE ELDER (Brussels, 1568 - Antwerp, 1625). "The Old Man" and Workshop .
"Allegory of the sense of sight".
Oil on copper.
Measurements: 58,5 x 90 cm; 85,5 x 116 cm (frame).

Last Bid : 95000
Auction complete


Attributed to JAN BRUEGHEL THE ELDER (Brussels, 1568 - Antwerp, 1625). "The Old Man" and Workshop.
"Allegory of the sense of sight".
Oil on copper.
Measurements: 58,5 x 90 cm; 85,5 x 116 cm (frame).
A naked Venus contemplates her own beauty in a mirror, while at her feet Cupid observes her. Both seem to be oblivious to the beauty and opulence of the interior in which they find themselves. Bronze and marble sculptures, portraits, religious and mythological paintings, exotic animals, coins and mathematical instruments scattered on the floor are found in an architecture that opens to the outside, where a busy port on the shores of a city can be seen. During the 17th century there was a proliferation of allegorical paintings, related to the representation of the five senses. This was due to the fact that the theme of the senses was in turn related to the transmission of a moral and religious message. As Maria Sanchez Luque points out in her work La vanitas en Los cinco sentidos de Brueghel: Olfato y Tacto: "It is fundamentally in the Baroque, when these allegories reach their maximum splendor, they show the confidence in the capacity of objects to materialize the symbol. Symbolism could be the result of several ideas, such as expiration, the futility of clinging to earthly goods and the choice between good and evil. To understand the relationship established between these ideas and the artistic representations, it must be kept in mind that, according to the Baroque mentality, man's life on earth was only a preparation for life in the hereafter, and that his destiny depended to a great extent on how he conducted himself in earthly life. Earthly life was material and transitory, while life in heaven would be spiritual and eternal. One did not have to taste earthly goods but heavenly goods in order to gain heaven. This message is particularly represented in the genre of vanitas".
During the 17th century in Flanders there was a growing demand for paintings to decorate the houses of the bourgeoisie. Apart from portraits and large canvases with religious, historical or mythological themes, artists specialized, painting medium-sized works that gradually increased in format, with still lifes, animals, landscapes and genre scenes. The paintings that reproduce collectors' cabinets of the time are explicit in this respect, to the point of originating a new autonomous pictorial genre. Undoubtedly, the future of this painting would have been different without Rubens, whose art revolutionized the artistic panorama of Flanders, introducing a new fully baroque way and bringing a sense of unity and opulent sumptuousness to the ordered and encyclopedic sample that were the precious descriptions of his countrymen. Jan Brueghel came from an illustrious family of artists and, along with Rubens, was considered the leading painter of Antwerp. He was an essential figure for the development of the traditional Flemish landscape in the line initiated by Joachim Patinir and Gillis van Coninxloo III, the latter as the most immediate representative. The subject illustrates a passage from the Bible, Paradise, which was painted countless times by Brueghel, although this painting was one of his earliest versions. The painting reflects the ascendancy of contemporaries such as Roelandt Savery and Rubens, a fact that is not surprising since he had a close collaboration with the latter. The Garden of Eden is a superb example of the best Flemish Baroque landscape.


This lot can be seen at the Setdart Madrid Gallery located at C/Velázquez, 7.


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