6 11/16”x 8 15/16”(17 x 22.7 cm ) – Framed : 11 1/8”x 13 9/16” (28.3 x 34.4 cm)
Dukes of Marlborough Collection, Blenheim Palace until its sale at Christie's London on 26 July 1886 (lot 172)
English private collection until its sale at Christie's London on 11 December 1992 (lot 363)
Erna Weidinger Collection (1923 - 2021) - Austria
Georg Scharf - A list of the pictures in Blenheim Palace - Catalogue raisonné Part 2 - London 1862 (page 166 - number 199 "after Palma Giovane")
Charles Davies - A collection of one Hundred and Twenty Paintings by David Teniers (from Blenheim Palace) - The property of His grace the Duke of Malborough. On exhibition at Mr. Davis' Galleries - London 1884 (page 30 - number 199; "after Palma Giovane")
This painting is presented in the "Blenheim" type frame. Such frames were used to uniformly frame the 120 pasticci by Teniers at Blenheim Palace.
This 'pasticcio' by Teniers, a preparation for the engraving by Jan Popels depecting the Virgin and Child after Palma Vecchio, is moving in many ways. It is the last remaining evidence of the existence of this painting, which has now disappeared. It is one of 246 copies of old master paintings from the collection of Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg, painted by David Teniers to illustrate the Theatrum Pictorium, the first illustrated catalogue of European art history published in 1660. Like half of them, it then became part of the collections of the Dukes of Malborough at Blenheim until the sale of this ensemble in 1886. It is still displayed in its Blenheim-style frame, a model that was created in the 18th century to present these paintings in a homogeneous way.
1. David Teniers II, painter to Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg
Son of David Teniers the Elder and Dymphna de Wilde, David Teniers II probably received his first painting lessons from his father, before continuing his training in the studio of Adriaen Brouwer.
In 1632 he became a member of the Antwerp Guild, specialising in small religious formats and genre paintings. He became friends with Jan Brueghel the Elder, known as de Velours, and in 1637 he married hisdaughter Anne. In 1647 he worked for Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg, who governed the Spanish Netherlands, and in 1651 he followed him to Brussels as a court painter.
His responsabilities included the management of the Archduke's art collection and the production of an illustrated catalogue: The Theatrum Pictorium which was published in 1660. For this catalogue he painted small copies of Italian, mainly Venetian, paintings from the Archduke's collection. These paintings served as models for engravers and were called "pasticci". This collection of paintings was bequeathed by Leopold William to his nephew, Emperor Leopold 1st , and today it forms the core of the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
2. The last testimony of a Palma Vecchio painting now lost
The engraving by Jan Popels allows us to identify this painting as a work by Palma Vecchio, although it had long been attributed to his grand-nephew Palma il Giovane. This painting is known from the successive inventories made by the Habsburgs: it was numbered 230 in the collection of Archduke Leopold-Guillaume and measured 60 x 100 cm. Donated in 1662 to Emperor Leopold 1er, it appears in the inventory of the Stallburg Palace in Vienna in 1735 and in a final inventory in 1772, before being lost.
This painting was probably bought, like many other Venetian paintings (including, for example, Giovanni Bellini's Bathing Woman painted around 1515), from the heirs of the Duke of Hamilton, who had himself bought it from Bartolomeo della Nove or Nicolo Renier.
Painted around 1510-1512, this painting is the only known example in which Palma Vecchio depicts a theme that was very common in the 15th century, that of the Virgin breastfeeding the Child Jesus. She is accompanied on her right by St. John the Baptist (recognisable by his animal skin and the phylactery "ecce agnus dei", i.e. "here is the Lamb of God", hanging from his cross-shaped staff) and on her left by St. Catherine of Alexandria, with the palm of martyrdom in her left hand, resting on the wheel miraculously broken during her martyrdom.
3. Jan Popel's engraving and the 'Blenheim' frame
In the absence of Palma Vecchio’s painting, it is difficult to compare Teniers' execution of this pasticcio with the original. We can however highlight the subtle way in which he was able to render the Venetian atmosphere of the painting and the delicacy of the child suckling at his mother's breast under the tender eyes of the two saints.
Jan Popel's engraving (last photo in the gallery – not for sale), which is very close in size to our pasticcio, faithfully reproduces the composition, obviously on an inverted basis. The message on the phylactery that appeared on the Palma Vecchio painting was erased during the engraving, as it could not be read in reverse.
What is very interesting about this pasticcio, apart from the testimony of a lost work, is that it retains its 'Blenheim' frame in which the entire collection purchased by John Churchill (1650 - 1722), the first Duke of Marlborough, was framed in the 18th century. These paintings were displayed in the early nineteenth century in Blenheim’s billiard room, where they remained until their sale in 1886.
4. The Theatrum Pictorium and the pasticci
Leopold William of Habsburg (1614 - 1662) was the last son of Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg and Maria Anna of Bavaria and the brother of Emperor Ferdinand III. Governor General of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647 to 1656, he built up one of the most splendid collections of paintings of his time, in which Venetian masterpieces predominated.
David Téniers II, who entered his service in 1647, supervised the publishing venture of the Theatrum Pictorium by painting small replicas of paintings from the collection to serve as "modello" (preparatory sketches) for the engravings in this book, which was published after the Archduke's return to Vienna in 1660. Most of the pasticci were made in a format relatively close to the one we are presenting (around 17 x 23 cm), but some are smaller (usually portraits measuring around 17 x 12 cm) and a few are larger, up to 22.9 x 31.3 cm (Adam and Eve after the Expulsion from the Earthly Paradise from the Courtauld Institute in London).
Pasticci have always been a subject of collecting and today the largest group of pasticci is held at the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London (fourteen) while the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which holds the majority of the Archduke's paintings, holds seven of them. Other sets of several pasticci are also held at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, the Wallace Collection in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Princetown University Art Museum, the Glasgow Museum, the Stedelijk Museum in Lakenhal, Leiden, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, while a number of other institutions hold a single pasticcio.
Based upon the Blenheim inventories, the marks No. 18 and No. 192 visible on the verso of our panel were used to designate first the pictorial genre to which the painting belongs, and second its inventory number.
Main bibliographical references :
David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting (collective work) - Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery - 2006
Philip Rylands - Palma Vecchio - Cambridge University Press 1972
Delevery information :
The prices indicated are the prices for purchases at the gallery.
Depending on the price of the object, its size and the location of the buyer we are able to offer the best transport solution which will be invoiced separately and carried out under the buyer's responsibility.