Recent Projects

AN ANONYMOUS WORK MUST SOMETIMES REMAIN ANONYMOUS: An Early Netherlandish painting of the Descent from the Cross dating from c. 1460/70

zondag 31 jan 2016

In January 2015 this painting of the Deposition of Christ was presented at a New York auction as 'Circle of Rogier van der Weyden'. The work immediately attracted my interest for a number of reasons: the fresh colours, the virtually perfect condition, the carefully rendered velvet and gold brocade fabrics, and especially the finely drawn faces of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. My instinct told me that it was a fine example of a Flemish Primitive painting from the late 15th century.

Anonymous, Descent from the Cross, c. 1460/70, oil on panel, 66.9 x 54.7 cm

It emerged that the catalogue note - which mainly pointed out that the painting reveals the influence of Van der Weyden's Decent from the Cross in the Prado (https://www.museodelprado.es/) and that the clothing and male figures are reminiscent of the Master of Flémalle - was based on extensive correspondence with scholars in various countries, some of whom suggested that the painting was produced in Westphalia. Stephan Kemperdick from the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, was the only one to state unequivocally that it was a Flemish hand, probably that of a Brussels master. Initially he linked the work to the anonymous Master of the Prado Adoration but he subsequently withdrew this suggestion, concluding that a painter from the circle of the Master of the Legend of St Catherine seemed more plausible. He stressed, however, that it was not a 'known hand'.

Master of the Prado Adoration, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

Naturally I wanted the buyer to receive confirmation of the Southern Netherlandish origin of the panel, since it was on that premise that I had recommended the painting to him.

In the end, the proof I was looking for was delivered through technical research. Dendrochronological analysis of the panel by Peter Klein revealed that it was made of Baltic oak. Since we know that at this time panels made from Baltic oak were only used in the Low Countries, Westphalia could be ruled out as a possible place of production.

Although the identity of the artist remains unknown, this brings us a small step closer to unravelling the origin of the work: we can assume that it was made somewhere in the Southern Netherlands around 1470, in a professional workshop on a par with those of the Master of the Legend of St Catherine and the Master of the Legend of St Ursula. In other words, the painting is still anonymous, but more is now known about it.

The Descent from the Cross is one of the highlights of the exhibition New Taste: the art of collecting in the 21st century, currently on view at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe (closing August 21st 2016), Enschede (https://www.rijksmuseumtwenthe.nl/).


Homage to an ancestor: after 350 years, the Teding van Berkhout family sells Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet's 1661 Interior of the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft with the epitaph of Adriaan Teding van Berkhout (1572–1620) in a truly fitting manner

31 jan 2016

The Teding van Berkhout family goes back to the 15th century and has its roots in the town of Hoorn where Jan van Berkhout, born 1446, worked as a blacksmith. His son, Pieter Jansz. (c.1472-1558),... Read more

A ‘group photograph' from the year 1634: Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, a unique group portrait by Johannes Claeissens of the brothers and sisters of the Community of St Mary Magdalene's Hospital in Bruges.

22 jul 2015

 

Johannes Claeissens (c.1565-1653), Portrait Historié: Christ in the House of Mary and Martha. Signed and dated Joan.Claeiss.F.1634, oil on canvas.

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‘Crépuscule’: a special watercolour by J.H. Weissenbruch (1824-1903)

19 aug 2014

For a long time this watercolour was in a private collection in Wassenaar. When the owner died, it came on to the market and at this point I was asked to suggest a suitable home for it.

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The Temptation of Saint Anthony: a Bosch-like work from the second half of the 16th century

19 aug 2014

This painting was presented to me some time ago when I was visiting a Dutch collector. Afterwards I sent a photograph to Matthijs Ilsink at the Jheronymus Bosch Art Center in Den Bosch... Read more

Rienk Jelgerhuis’s Portrait of a King Charles Spaniel: an eighteenth-century Dutch picture of a French type

10 apr 2014

18th-century Dutch art and culture are often characterised as complacent and inward-looking. Holland’s triumph as a world power in the 17th century was followed by a period in which the country... Read more

The homecoming of a pair of family portraits by Godfried Schalcken

10 apr 2014

In 1934 the Spanish art historian Juan Hernandez Diaz published a group of Dutch family portraits in the Boletin de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. He had seen the portraits in the collection of Baron... Read more