Lot n° 20
30000 - 40000
École flamande de la première moitié du XVIIe siècle
The four Evangelists
Suite of four oil on canvas (restorations and wear).
H_96 cm L_72,5 cm each
With carved and gilded wood frames from the 20th century.
- Private collection, Holland
- Private collection, Italy (from about 1970)
Inspired by Anton Van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens, the style of this admirable suite of Evangelists seems to fall more precisely between the work of Michaelina Wautier and Pieter van Lint. The artist, who remains anonymous for the moment, must also have breathed the Italian air to the fullest.
In the seventeenth century, the training trip to Italy for transalpine artists became an obligatory part of their professional career. This is evidenced by the establishment in Rome in 1620 of the Bentvueghels, a brotherhood reserved for Flemish and Dutch artists.
Head of the Antwerp school, Rubens stayed in several Italian cities from 1600 to 1608. Thanks to his influence, the models of Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Caravaggio or Roman antiquity strongly influenced Flemish artists, both for the richness of the colors and the monumentality of the figures. Several Flemish painters of the following generations, such as Pieter van Lint, traveled to Italy to learn the styles of the schools of Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Naples and Rome.
The four Evangelists presented here seem to be based on the model of two series of Apostles that Rubens (and his workshop) painted on panel around 1612 (Prado, Madrid) and around 1618 (Pallavicini Collection, Rome), but with a different sensibility. Austere and sculpted, they sit in the middle of a dark space, uniformly illuminated by a Caravaggio source from the same side. The shadows that derive from this source moderately mark the compositions; the light seems to take over, sculpting the bodies and anatomical details precisely but gradually. It sometimes insists on a vein or a few hairs, while its delicate reverberations reveal the roundness of a cheek. Their volumes impose themselves with elegance and sobriety. The atmosphere that the expressions and gestures give off remains intimate. These figures are reminiscent of ancient philosophers or mythological characters.
The brilliant and warm nuances as well as the changing and incandescent tones of the draperies have the accent of Venice. The possible model for the figure of St. Matthew, on the other hand, is Roman. His somewhat naïve air of astonishment and disbelief, which makes him close to us, links him to the first (destroyed) version of the same subject painted by Caravaggio in 1602 for the Contarelli Chapel in the Roman church of St. Louis of the French. Quoted in the Roman inventory of the Giustiniani in 1638, the Domenichino's Saint John the Evangelist may have inspired our Saint John, his suspended pose, his abundant and structured draperies, his illuminated gaze, his fleshy face. The sobriety of the composition of St. Mark and St. Luke, animated nevertheless by the surprising vibrations of the faces and hands, would bring us however to Naples, recalling the stylistic simplifications of the Caravaggio or Riberian message proper, for example, of Cesare Fracanzano.
Successful examples of this "hot fusion" of two styles unleashing an inexhaustible energy of colors and forms, our Evangelists also constitute a rare set in the Flemish painting of the seventeenth century. When compared with similar chronologically preceding or contemporary models (Rubens, Van Dyck, Hals, Lastman, Seghers), they also stand out because of their completely original composition.
An attribution to Pieter van Lint has been suggested on the basis of photographs by Mr. Christopher Brown, to whom we are very grateful.
Works accompanied by the export passport "Libera Circolazione".
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