Lot No. 29 -


Abraham Bloemaert

[Saleroom Notice]

(Goerinchem 1564–1651 Utrecht)
Sleeping Psyche with Cupid,
The painting is indistinctly signed centre right. A date is not legible.
oil on canvas, 78.7 x 110.2 cm, framed

Saleroom Notice:

indistinctly signed centre right,

Provenance:
Private collection, America;
sale, Christie’s, New York, 30 January 2013, lot 16;
where acquired by the present owner

The present canvas depicts the sleeping Psyche, painted by Abraham Bloemaert in smooth sfumato which emphasises the softness of the reclining nude’s skin. Beside her is a chubby putto, assumed to be Cupid, who conceals himself with the brocade curtain, while on the left the drapery is pulled away, possibly by an unseen hand. As told by Apuleius in his Golden Ass, Psyche was so beautiful that she provoked the jealousy of Venus. Sent to punish Psyche, Cupid instead fell in love with her. Enraged, Venus sent Psyche into a deep sleep. The present lot is intended to depict the moment before Psyche is awoken by Cupid.

Abraham Bloemaert is viewed as the founder of the Utrecht School of painting (fig. 1). He visited Paris in the 1580s, training with Hieronymous Francken the Elder, but would have also been exposed to the Mannerist, Italianate work of the School of Fontainebleau. This was followed by a sojourn in Amsterdam between 1591–93. On the vibrant art market there he would have seen the oeuvre of the Prague School’s great practitioner Bartholomeus Spranger. Nearby in Haarlem resided the renowned translator of Spranger’s style into print, the engraver and painter Hendrick Goltzius. Goltzius and Bloemaert may have known each other through their mutual friend Aernout van Buchell.

The subject of the Sleeping Venus had previously been painted by Titian, along with the Venetian master’s many versions of the related composition of Danae, and indeed the Venus and Cupid by Titian’s Amsterdam-born pupil Lambert Sustris, now in the Louvre (inv. no. 1978). While Bloemaert may have seen a workshop copy of Titian’s Danae, Goltzius’s monumental 1603 treatment of the same subject (Los Angeles County Art Museum, inv. no. M84 191) is perhaps more pertinent to the present canvas. Karel van Mander also writes of a now lost life-size painting of Venus Spied Upon by Satyrs by Bloemaert’s collaborator, Jacques de Gheyn II.

Bloemaert, like Goltzius, understands the power of the painted nude to arouse. Bloemaert, however, in the present lot, teases the viewer by stripping the figures of the traditional attributes that would allow an erudite beholder to identify them. Jasper Hilligers suggests that rather than depict the virile Cupid himself pulling back the curtain to uncover Psyche – as can be seen in the prints after Spranger – the winged putto in the picture (bereft of the quiver or bow that accompany Cupid) is simply that: a chubby child. As was fashionable in Dutch painting of the time, the knowledgeable spectator is thus invited to become a participant in the drama unfolding. With the notion of omitting Cupid, Bloemaert has the viewer assume the role of the absent hero, imagining himself pulling back the curtain in the top left of the picture to uncover a sleeping beauty. The tasseled pillows and shimmering textures of the silk-like sheets add to the air of divine decadence.

Bloemaert was a prolific draughtsman, with around 1,000 of his drawings surviving, providing a unique font of knowledge. A drawing (fig. 2) of Danae Receiving Jupiter’s Golden Rain (Göttingen, Kunstsammlungen der Universität, inv. no. H260), given by J. Bolten to the artist in his 2007 catalogue of Bloemaert’s works on paper, bears similarities to the present picture. M. Röthlisberger, author of the 1993 monograph on Bloemaert, has only seen a weak copy on canvas of the present lot in a Swiss private collection and in print via an engraving of 1610 by Jacob Matham. Jasper Hillegers points out the further analogy between Bloemaert’s composition of Danae, preserved in Matham’s print, and the present lot, each with their closely corresponding reclining nudes.

Bloemaert’s interest in an erotic engagement by the spectator with the figures in a painting was further developed by the most talented of his many pupils, Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrick Ter Brugghen. The pair returned from Rome in the period preceding the end of the Twelve Years’ Truce with Spain in 1620, having absorbed and refined the realism of Caravaggio. While they had an influence on their master, whose style became more attuned to the Roman Baroque, it is important to ponder what effect compositions like the present picture may have had on the formation of these two painters.

Specialist: Damian Brenninkmeyer Damian Brenninkmeyer
+43 1 515 60 403

damian.brenninkmeyer@dorotheum.at

22.10.2019 - 17:00

Estimate:
EUR 200,000.- to EUR 300,000.-

Abraham Bloemaert

[Saleroom Notice]

(Goerinchem 1564–1651 Utrecht)
Sleeping Psyche with Cupid,
The painting is indistinctly signed centre right. A date is not legible.
oil on canvas, 78.7 x 110.2 cm, framed

Saleroom Notice:

indistinctly signed centre right,

Provenance:
Private collection, America;
sale, Christie’s, New York, 30 January 2013, lot 16;
where acquired by the present owner

The present canvas depicts the sleeping Psyche, painted by Abraham Bloemaert in smooth sfumato which emphasises the softness of the reclining nude’s skin. Beside her is a chubby putto, assumed to be Cupid, who conceals himself with the brocade curtain, while on the left the drapery is pulled away, possibly by an unseen hand. As told by Apuleius in his Golden Ass, Psyche was so beautiful that she provoked the jealousy of Venus. Sent to punish Psyche, Cupid instead fell in love with her. Enraged, Venus sent Psyche into a deep sleep. The present lot is intended to depict the moment before Psyche is awoken by Cupid.

Abraham Bloemaert is viewed as the founder of the Utrecht School of painting (fig. 1). He visited Paris in the 1580s, training with Hieronymous Francken the Elder, but would have also been exposed to the Mannerist, Italianate work of the School of Fontainebleau. This was followed by a sojourn in Amsterdam between 1591–93. On the vibrant art market there he would have seen the oeuvre of the Prague School’s great practitioner Bartholomeus Spranger. Nearby in Haarlem resided the renowned translator of Spranger’s style into print, the engraver and painter Hendrick Goltzius. Goltzius and Bloemaert may have known each other through their mutual friend Aernout van Buchell.

The subject of the Sleeping Venus had previously been painted by Titian, along with the Venetian master’s many versions of the related composition of Danae, and indeed the Venus and Cupid by Titian’s Amsterdam-born pupil Lambert Sustris, now in the Louvre (inv. no. 1978). While Bloemaert may have seen a workshop copy of Titian’s Danae, Goltzius’s monumental 1603 treatment of the same subject (Los Angeles County Art Museum, inv. no. M84 191) is perhaps more pertinent to the present canvas. Karel van Mander also writes of a now lost life-size painting of Venus Spied Upon by Satyrs by Bloemaert’s collaborator, Jacques de Gheyn II.

Bloemaert, like Goltzius, understands the power of the painted nude to arouse. Bloemaert, however, in the present lot, teases the viewer by stripping the figures of the traditional attributes that would allow an erudite beholder to identify them. Jasper Hilligers suggests that rather than depict the virile Cupid himself pulling back the curtain to uncover Psyche – as can be seen in the prints after Spranger – the winged putto in the picture (bereft of the quiver or bow that accompany Cupid) is simply that: a chubby child. As was fashionable in Dutch painting of the time, the knowledgeable spectator is thus invited to become a participant in the drama unfolding. With the notion of omitting Cupid, Bloemaert has the viewer assume the role of the absent hero, imagining himself pulling back the curtain in the top left of the picture to uncover a sleeping beauty. The tasseled pillows and shimmering textures of the silk-like sheets add to the air of divine decadence.

Bloemaert was a prolific draughtsman, with around 1,000 of his drawings surviving, providing a unique font of knowledge. A drawing (fig. 2) of Danae Receiving Jupiter’s Golden Rain (Göttingen, Kunstsammlungen der Universität, inv. no. H260), given by J. Bolten to the artist in his 2007 catalogue of Bloemaert’s works on paper, bears similarities to the present picture. M. Röthlisberger, author of the 1993 monograph on Bloemaert, has only seen a weak copy on canvas of the present lot in a Swiss private collection and in print via an engraving of 1610 by Jacob Matham. Jasper Hillegers points out the further analogy between Bloemaert’s composition of Danae, preserved in Matham’s print, and the present lot, each with their closely corresponding reclining nudes.

Bloemaert’s interest in an erotic engagement by the spectator with the figures in a painting was further developed by the most talented of his many pupils, Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrick Ter Brugghen. The pair returned from Rome in the period preceding the end of the Twelve Years’ Truce with Spain in 1620, having absorbed and refined the realism of Caravaggio. While they had an influence on their master, whose style became more attuned to the Roman Baroque, it is important to ponder what effect compositions like the present picture may have had on the formation of these two painters.

Specialist: Damian Brenninkmeyer Damian Brenninkmeyer
+43 1 515 60 403

damian.brenninkmeyer@dorotheum.at


Buyers hotline Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Auction: Old Master Paintings I
Date: 22.10.2019 - 17:00
Location: Vienna | Palais Dorotheum
Exhibition: 12.10. - 22.10.2019