Ascension Day in Venice
17th century Antwerp School
Attributed to Louis de Caullery (1582-1621)
Oil on oak panel
Dimensions: h. 19.68 in, w. 34.25 in
Flemish style frame in ebonized wood with golden edging
Framed: h. 25.59 in, w. 40.55 in
Our work illustrates the view of the basin of San Marco with the departure of the "Bucentaure" towards the Lido of Venice on the feast of the Ascension Day.
In the foreground, elegant figures have gathered to watch the celebrations dedicated to the Feast of the Ascension. The richly dressed women are protected from the sun by young pages holding parasols. Figures of exquisite refinement attending an outdoor performance is a characteristic subject of Louis de Caullery's work. These characters occupy the entire foreground of the painting, their proximity allows the viewer to better appreciate their outfits enhanced with a multitude of details by the painter's skilful brush.
The magnificent Bucentaure, the parade galley, makes its way across the bay accompanied by a flotilla of gondolas and various other craft. During the ceremony, the Doge (ruler of the Republic of Venice) and his retinue sail to the Lido, where the lagoon gives way to the sea. There a ritual ceremony was performed during which a ring was thrown at the sea, symbolizing the marriage of Venice with the sea. Then the Doge attended Mass at S.Nicolò on the Lido, before returning to Venice. Visitors from all over Europe and the Middle East flocked to Venice every year to watch the show.
Since de Caullery probably never visited Venice himself, he must have surrounded himself with etchings and prints for his depictions of the city. Buildings across the bay are easily recognizable as Piazza San Marco, framed by the Library, Campanile, Basilica and most prominently the Doge's Palace, but the buildings to the far right and left of the composition are largely the product of the artist's imagination. Nevertheless, de Caullery managed to capture the festive atmosphere of the big event and the exotic flavor of the city.
Relates works :
1. Attributed to Louis de CAULLERY (1580-1621),Panel 33 x 59 cm, Sotheby’s New-York, 30 January 2014, lot n 202 (sold 87500 $)
2. Workshop of Louis de Caullery, Sotheby’s New-York, panel : 51,4 cm x 66,7 cm 14 october 1998, lot n 183, (sold 37375 $)
3. Louis de Caullery, panel :49 x 67 cm, Sotheby’s London, 14 december 2000, lot n 5, (sold 67332 $)
4. Attributed to de Louis de Caullery, panel : 50 cm x 70 cm, Sotheby’s London, 26 october 1994, lot n 10, (sold 15015 $)
Louis de Caullery
Probably Caulery around 1582 – Antwerp, around 1621
We have little information on the origins of the artist. He was probably born in Cauery, the town whose name he ended up taking and which is located 18 km from Cambrai.
He probably maintained ties with this region. In 1594 he was recruited under the name of "Loys Solleri" as an apprentice of the landscape gardener Joos de Momper. When he became master of the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in the list of 1602-1603, he registered under the name of "Lowis Callori."
Caullery was a prolific painter of genre scenes and mythological paintings. His elegant style is oriented towards late mannerism. His multi-figure compositions have aptly been compared to the work of Frans Francken and other mannerist masters. Small-scale figures are depicted in huge squares, interior scenes or in a landscape with a very large depth of field.
His mixture of genre scenes and landscape painting is thoroughly Nordic and even when he introduced mythological and religious themes it was in the manner of a non-heroic genre painter.
There are no signs of stylistic evolution in his work. Some paintings are dated but they mainly belong to the end of his career, such as the Allegory of the senses of 1618, at the castle of Nelahozeves in Poland, or another version of the same subject, dated 1620 and on deposit at the Museum of Fine Arts de Cambrai, as well as the Crucifixion of 1619 at the Brussels Museum. Given the large number of works that have come down to us and the repetition of certain compositions, it seems that Caullery directed a large and very active workshop.