Moses van Uyttenbroeck
The Hague circa 1590/1600 – in or before 1647 The Hague
Bucolic landscape with the Messapian shepherds mocking a group of nymphs
(after Antoninus Liberalis’ Metamorphoses)
Oil on panel : 46 X 75 cm
Frame : 70 X 99 cm
Provenance : Unsold at Sotheby’s London, 14/12/00
as Moyses van Uyttenbroeck, Pastoral landscape with herders and other figures dancing
Estimate : 15. – 20.000 £ (+ buyer’s premium) = 24. – 33.000 € (+ BP)
Moses van Uyttenbroeck was a very successful and very expensive painter active in The Hague in the second quarter of the 17th century. Just as Vermeer in Delft he did not paint a lot: a mere 60 paintings are known by him.
He loved teasing his public, amongst whom the Stadtholder Frederick Henry, with his cryptic mythological paintings: rare subjects, extremely difficult to identify.
I have discovered that van Uyttenbroeck has taken for our painting a subject of a very rare Roman author from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, Antonius Liberalis. Only one of his books, written in Greek, has survived through a 9th century Byzantine version. And that unique copy was printed in 1568 in Heidelberg. In his Metamorphoses Liberalis tells 41 mythological stories, comparable to Ovid. His 31st myth tells of young Messapian shepherds, from the heel of the Italian boot, who boorishly challenged local nymphs to a dancing contest. Once defeated, the youth are changed into trees, standing next to the Temple of the Nymphs.
Another version of our painting is part of the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague; it is monogrammed and dated 1626. Our painting surfaced for the first time in the year 2000 at a Sotheby’s sale. Nor the Museum, nor Sotheby’s have identified its subject.
Price : on request