Oil on oak panel (2 plates enclosed)
Superb carved wooden frame with original gilding (17th century)
Dimensions with frame: 71 x 90 cm. Panel alone: 50 x 67 cm
Here, the painter shows us a wooded landscape on several levels; near a clearing, hunters on horseback and pickers are pursuing a deer.
But here, it's nature, abundant and profuse, with tall trees and foliage ranging from soft green to golden brown, that gives this superb landscape its full importance, with its abundant birds crossing a beautiful sky. All the meticulousness dear to the Flemish masters is present in this composition, which reproduces a great classic that was very popular with collectors at the time.
Paul Bril and his workshop produced this type of subject on several occasions, and we can compare our painting with the one in the Louvre, where the artist uses the figures of the horseman and the pickerel on the left (see attached photo).
Paul Bril was born in Antwerp around 1553 and died in Rome in 1626.
An important figure in early 17th-century landscape painting, Paul Bril was one of the initiators of the composed "vedute".
This Nordic painter, born in the Spanish Netherlands, was transplanted to Italy, where he exerted an immense influence through his key role as a transitional artist between the Mannerist fantasy landscape and the classicizing composed landscape.
After training in Antwerp, Bril moved to France in 1574, via Lyon, to join many others in Rome, where his brother Matthys was based.
Bril's presence in Rome is attested as early as 1582, and continued uninterrupted from 1593 until his death.
In 1606, he witnessed the marriage of the painter Elsheimer, confirming the importance of his position in the deeply internationalized Roman art world. Under the influence of his brother, Bril turned to fresco painting in Rome, working extensively as a landscape decorator in papal and cardinal churches and palaces. His style then evolved from a complicated, agitated mannerism, close to the style of Girolama Muziano, to a kind of strongly constructed classicism, with simplified elements, reflecting the influence of Annibal Carracci.
It was not until quite late in the 16th century that Bril began to paint on easels, with a slightly different inspiration: landscapes often embellished with mythological scenes and marked by high-quality effects of sunlight and light.
Thus, before the arrival of Elsheimer, he prefigures a fundamental evolution in Italian landscape painting, from Swanewelt and Claude to Bamboccianti, from Poelenburgh and Both to Vanvitelli. After 1600, as in the fresco, Mannerist virtuosity, piquant, contrasting effects and unrealistic, decorative arrangements were simplified in a broader, more solidly constructed style. Alternating light and dark zones, and the successive interplay of blues, greens and yellows became the usual pattern in these pleasantly arranged, deep perspective views, shot through with a powerful, muted lyricism of vegetation and light. Bril's reputation was immense and, as early as 1620, a Roman amateur like Mancini ranked him first among landscape painters, after Carracci.
Jacques Foucart (excerpt)
In addition to the Louvre, many other museums have works by Paul Bril in their collections.