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Čís. položky 313 -


Jan van Bijlert


(Utrecht 1597/98–1671)
Saint Sebastian attended by Saint Irene,
oil on canvas, 139.7 x 192.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
Private collection, South America;
Private collection, Florida, USA, until 2010

We are grateful to Paul Huys Janssen for confirming the attribution to Jan van Bijlert; a copy of his certificate dated 18 April 2011 is included with the lot.

The present picture shows the third-century Roman centurion Saint Sebastian, miraculously resisting death whilst shot through with arrows, tended by Saint Irene. An unusual iconographic innovation on the part of van Bijlert is the inclusion of several further female figures either nursing the wounded soldier or perhaps contemplating his suffering or praying for divine intercession.

As noted by Paul Huys Janssen, the composition is rapt with the sense of dramatisation associated with the Utrecht Caravaggisti. Its close-up figures and naturalism emulate the Roman Baroque. However, as compared with van Bijlert’s earlier 1624 treatment of the same subject (Harrach Collection, Rohrau, Austria) the tree to which the saint is bound, is also now set in a landscape with either the sun, or the moon, obscured beneath darkening heavens.

In 1617, the same year that Jan van Bijlert left Utrecht for Rome (where he worked in the studio of Gerrit van Honthorst) his older contemporary Hendrick ter Brugghen returned home, just as an intense plague struck. The religiously divided town found itself in the grip of another ‘plague summer’ on van Bijlert’s return in 1625. Plagues were associated with pestilential zaat or bad seeds in the ground falling from the heavens, where astrological phenomena were seen as ill portents. In the present picture, van Bijlert appears to be developing a theme also suggested by what art historians identify as the ‘bile coloured sky’, due to its peculiar hue, in Ter Brugghen’s 1626 rendering of the same subject (see V. Hedquist, Ter Brugghen’s Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene, in: Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art, 9:2, 2017). Uniquely, van Bijlert has included, above the yellow and blue sky, an orb of colour obscured by the clouds, which may well be a representation of an eclipse.

Despite the general prohibition on the depiction of saints in the officially Calvinist Northern Netherlands, Sebastian and Irene remained popular examples in an era when infection was still conceptualised as being caught by invisible plague arrows, and where many orthodox Calvinists refused to leave on the outbreak of an epidemic in order to stay and care for the sick. For the Catholic minority in Utrecht, Saint Sebastian’s sacrificial nature would aid them in contemplating Christ, providing, in their minds, spiritual healing.

Van Bijlert himself served as Governor of the Hospital of Saint Job. He donated a picture (now conserved in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht) of the men who lived in its almshouses and the sensitivity of his portrayal of their humility is echoed in the many additional female figures in the present picture. That the function of the present canvas may have been to also raise awareness, in this case, of the work of nurses, could further explain its originality.

Expert: Damian Brenninkmeyer Damian Brenninkmeyer
+43 1 515 60 312

oldmasters@dorotheum.com

11.11.2021 - 16:53

Odhadní cena:
EUR 40.000,- do EUR 60.000,-
Vyvolávací cena:
EUR 36.000,-

Jan van Bijlert


(Utrecht 1597/98–1671)
Saint Sebastian attended by Saint Irene,
oil on canvas, 139.7 x 192.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
Private collection, South America;
Private collection, Florida, USA, until 2010

We are grateful to Paul Huys Janssen for confirming the attribution to Jan van Bijlert; a copy of his certificate dated 18 April 2011 is included with the lot.

The present picture shows the third-century Roman centurion Saint Sebastian, miraculously resisting death whilst shot through with arrows, tended by Saint Irene. An unusual iconographic innovation on the part of van Bijlert is the inclusion of several further female figures either nursing the wounded soldier or perhaps contemplating his suffering or praying for divine intercession.

As noted by Paul Huys Janssen, the composition is rapt with the sense of dramatisation associated with the Utrecht Caravaggisti. Its close-up figures and naturalism emulate the Roman Baroque. However, as compared with van Bijlert’s earlier 1624 treatment of the same subject (Harrach Collection, Rohrau, Austria) the tree to which the saint is bound, is also now set in a landscape with either the sun, or the moon, obscured beneath darkening heavens.

In 1617, the same year that Jan van Bijlert left Utrecht for Rome (where he worked in the studio of Gerrit van Honthorst) his older contemporary Hendrick ter Brugghen returned home, just as an intense plague struck. The religiously divided town found itself in the grip of another ‘plague summer’ on van Bijlert’s return in 1625. Plagues were associated with pestilential zaat or bad seeds in the ground falling from the heavens, where astrological phenomena were seen as ill portents. In the present picture, van Bijlert appears to be developing a theme also suggested by what art historians identify as the ‘bile coloured sky’, due to its peculiar hue, in Ter Brugghen’s 1626 rendering of the same subject (see V. Hedquist, Ter Brugghen’s Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene, in: Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art, 9:2, 2017). Uniquely, van Bijlert has included, above the yellow and blue sky, an orb of colour obscured by the clouds, which may well be a representation of an eclipse.

Despite the general prohibition on the depiction of saints in the officially Calvinist Northern Netherlands, Sebastian and Irene remained popular examples in an era when infection was still conceptualised as being caught by invisible plague arrows, and where many orthodox Calvinists refused to leave on the outbreak of an epidemic in order to stay and care for the sick. For the Catholic minority in Utrecht, Saint Sebastian’s sacrificial nature would aid them in contemplating Christ, providing, in their minds, spiritual healing.

Van Bijlert himself served as Governor of the Hospital of Saint Job. He donated a picture (now conserved in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht) of the men who lived in its almshouses and the sensitivity of his portrayal of their humility is echoed in the many additional female figures in the present picture. That the function of the present canvas may have been to also raise awareness, in this case, of the work of nurses, could further explain its originality.

Expert: Damian Brenninkmeyer Damian Brenninkmeyer
+43 1 515 60 312

oldmasters@dorotheum.com


Horká linka kupujících Po-Pá: 9.00 - 18.00
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Aukce: Alte Meister II
Datum: 11.11.2021 - 16:53
Místo konání aukce: Wien | Palais Dorotheum
Prohlídka: 29.10. - 11.11.2021