Discovering Caravaggio's influence on Northern painting in the Kremer Collection
This is an autograph replica of the painting in the National Gallery in London (1624). In our painting (which is not signed/dated) the colours have been preserved much better than the London prototype. This type of colourful and festive painting became very popular in a short time; which no doubt is the reason why multiple versions often were painted.
The strong realism with which Saint Mark’s bronzed and deeply lined face has been painted, including characteristic details such as the bushy eyebrows, contrasts with the unconvincing lion’s head. While a human being of flesh and blood had undoubtedly sat as model for the evangelist himself, this exotic animal – which looks more like a large dog with monstrous teeth – bears little relation to reality. This is not so strange, since the artist Jan van Bijlert, who came from Utrecht, had probably never seen a real lion. To paint the creature, he would have had to consult works by other artists, most of whom would have been equally at a loss to capture the essentials of a lion.
This work follows in a long tradition of depictions of men or women counting money. Such scenes often hover between genre and allegory, with the figures sometimes meant to represent Avaritia – avarice or greed – one of the seven deadly sins. In Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia, avarice is described as an old woman – ‘because cupidity dominates in the elderly’.
Old woman examining a coin by a lantern is a superb example of the work of Gerrit van Honthorst. It is highly probable that Rembrandt knew our painting his youth. His Old man counting his money (Avarice) from 1627 in Berlin depicts an old man studying a coin by candlelight. Rembrandt must have derived the subject from Van Honthorst, but chose instead to depict a man to convey the theme of greed.
One of the highlights in the collection, Saint Peter Penitent by Gerrit van Honthorst demonstrates at a glance that the artist had a consummate gift for the convincing representation of emotions such as grief and despair. Note how the hands convey the despair Peter is feeling about denying his God. Italian period Van Honthorsts are rare: only 17 works are known to exist today.
This painting is clearly inspired by Caravaggio’s famous Rosary of the Madonna in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and forms an important, early link between Caravaggio and his Flemish followers. We know of no replicas or autograph variations of the work discussed here, which must be considered one of the highpoints in Janssens’s oeuvre. On the basis of its large dimensions and the subject matter it seems safe to assume that the picture must have originally been an altarpiece.
In 1625 Rombouts returned to his native city of Antwerp after a sojourn of some nine years in Italy. The circa 30 pictures by Rombouts known today – of which only 12, including the one described here, are signed – were probably all painted after his return to the north. The artist’s self-portrait has been recognised in a number of Rombouts’s genre paintings. The present writer believes Rombouts is the man tuning his lute at the left, based on Anthony van Dyck’s portrait in Munich.
This life-size depiction of Christ at the column is one of the earliest works by Jan Lievens, described in 1641 by the Leiden chronicler Jan Orlers as a wunderkind. The Lievens picture here under discussion was probably executed around 1625, at a time when his work served as a model for his friend, the less experienced Rembrandt and there was not yet any sign of influence in the opposite direction
Boy with rumbling pot exhibits a number of characteristics typical of caravaggism: first and foremost, there is its ‘popular’ subject matter; then the composition, which places the half-figure close to the spectator, and the strong lighting; particularly striking are the two diagonal shadows on the rear wall, which increase the picture’s dynamic. Here Bloemaert is influenced by his former pupils, Van Honthorst and ter Brugghen
Only 2 paintings are known by this artist who signed his name in big letters on the tankard. Otherwise very little is known about him -no birthdate/place, no teacher, no pupils; the only mention in the guild archives places him in Ghent in 1652. This work is a perfect example of an artist we donot know today yet who produced an attractive painting of high quality.
Only five signed and dated works by Peter Wtewael – son of the famous Joachim Wtewael - him are known today, including Laughing Man with Flute, while others have been attributed to him on stylistic grounds. The work discussed here was produced in 1623, making it the artist’s earliest-known dated painting.
The Kremer Collection