Attributed to Pieter Brueghel II, 'Portrait of a woman'

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Oil on panel
15.5 cm

For the discussion on caricatural studies, refer to:

Klaus Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere (1564-1637/38): die Gemälde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog, Lingen 2000, pp. 953-960.
Klaus Ertz e.a., Pieter Breughel de Jonge ( 1564 - 1637/8) - Jan Brueghel de Oude (1568 - 1625). Een Vlaamse schildersfamilie rond 1600, Antwerp 1998.


Christie London, 15 December 1989, lot 178

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Attributed to Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels c. 1564-1637/8)

These two portraits of a man and a woman in an oval are attributed to Pieter Brueghel II.

The label on the reverse has previously lead to the thought that those portrayed were Maerten Luther and his wife. However, this can be considered to be a mistake. Instead, they are caricatural studies of farmers. Pieter Breughel the Elder started this genre, considering the fact that there are prints that are published around 1568.

These portraits are signed with the monogram ‘pb’ and for this reason they are attributed to Pieter Brueghel II. As mentioned by Ertz in his monography about Pieter Brueghel II, much remains unclear about the portraits or caricatural studies by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Although it is known that Pieter Brueghel the Elder composed such studies, none of those can be attributed to him with certainty. Due to the signature, the current studies are attributed to Pieter Brueghel II, yet they may be drafted after a design by his father. The print of Straight Lammert, wearing a similar hat and with a similar stubble, supports this theory.   

Remarkable are the two much larger studies in an Art cabinet by Cornelis de Baellieur in the Louvre. In the background on the right a farmer and his wife are depicted. De Baellieur inflated these paintings in order to give them a prominent place on the wall. On the right side of the fireplace is a tondo by Adriaen Brouwer that is much larger than it must have been in reality. 



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