Offered by Galerie Nicolas Lenté
Workshop of Pieter Coecke Van Aelst,
Oil on curved oak panel,
Dimensions : panel: h. 87 cm, l. 56 cm
Original molded oak frame
Dimensions: h. 100 cm, l. 69 cm
Luminous and rich in fresh, tangy colors, our work depicts the Holy Family resting against the backdrop of a verdant landscape.
The Virgin, richly dressed in multiple fabrics, is seated in the foreground, holding the infant Jesus in her lap. Joseph, standing slightly back, his hand on Mary's shoulder, looks attentively at the child.
Mary, her head covered by a draped turban, her eyes modestly lowered, holds the apple in her right hand, symbolizing the fall of man. Jesus, partially reclining, embraces his mother's arm, but seems intent on evading her embrace. His evasive, pensive gaze indicates that he is undoubtedly pondering his fate.
The tight framing of the foreground invites us into the intimacy of the holy family. While the second shot opens onto the rolling panorama of the Flemish countryside, with its fortified villages, transporting us into the distance.
The trees, with their twisted trunks and exposed roots, enliven the space and help to create this flight towards the horizon.
The work we are offering is a central panel of a triptych originally accompanied by shutters (now missing or detached) that probably represented the work's donors or commissioners, like the triptych in the Catharijneconvent museum in Utrecht. Another very similar variant can be found in the church of Saint-Sulpice-et-Saint-Dionysius in Diest (Belgium). Finally, a third version in a private collection is published on p. 234 in Georges Marlier's monograph on Pieter Coeck Van Aelst (G. Marlier, La Renaissance Flamande. Pierre Coeck d'Alost, Brussels 1966)
Pieter Coecke van Aelst or Pieter Coecke van Aelst the Elder (Aalst, 14 August 1502 – Brussels, 6 December 1550) was a Flemish painter, sculptor, architect, author and designer of woodcuts, goldsmith's work, stained glass and tapestries. His principal subjects were Christian religious themes. He worked in Antwerp and Brussels and was appointed court painter to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Pieter Coecke van Aelst later studied in Italy where in Rome he made drawings after Classical sculpture and architecture.
Pieter Coecke van Aelst was a versatile artist and a master designer who devised projects across a wide range of different media, including panel paintings, sculptures, prints, tapestries, stained glass and goldsmith's work
In his art Coecke showed his ambition to emulate contemporary Italian artists. From the later 1520s his works start to reveal the Italian influence, as is noticeable in his figures, which gain in monumentality, and the greater movement and drama in his compositions. His main model was Raphael and his circle. Coecke was likely already familiar with their compositions in Antwerp. However, when he traveled to Constantinople around 1533, he likely visited Mantua, where Raphael's leading pupil Giulio Romano was active at the time. Romano possessed a large collection of Raphael's drawings and Coecke must have availed himself of the opportunity to study these in detail during his visit. After his return to Flanders Coecke's style changed dramatically and approached the Italian models he had studied.
Coecke operated a large workshop, which was organized in an efficient manner. He acted as an entrepreneur who provided his assistants with his original inventions, which were then turned into final works under his supervision. The style that he created was widely imitated.