Oil on canvas.
Our composition depicts a battle made infamous by its atrocious outcome: two conceited officers choose to fight over a dispute and lead their troops to a massacre. Sébastiaen Vrancx and his studio have taken up this subject many times (Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Christie’s sale in 1999, etc.).
In the foreground, at the heart of the battle, riders in armour lie on the ground, lost and bloody weapons are scattered, and wounded horses collapse under the blows. The violence of the confrontation is so great that it is almost perceptible. The precision in the treatment of details adds to the harshness of the scene. And the use of fine glazes creates real sfumato that wonderfully reproduces the mists of the Northern States. In the background, the outskirts of the town of Vught can be seen.
Our painting is elegantly highlighted by a Louis XIV period Bérain frame in carved and gilded oak.
Sold with invoice and certificate
Dimensions: 56 x 71 cm unframed – 83 x 96 cm with frame
The battle of Lekkerbeetje pits the Marquis de Bréauté (a cavalry captain in the service of the States) against lieutenant Lekerbitkem (nicknamed Lekkerbeetje) serving a company from Grobbendonck. To settle their dispute, the two men chose to fight a duel of twenty against twenty. The confrontation took place on 5 February 1600 on a plain in front of the town of Vught (near Bois-le-Duc). The chaos that ensued after the battle between the two conceited officers is reminiscent of the legend of the Horatii and Curiatii. A few decades later, following this episode, a placard declared the duellists guilty of divine and human lèse-majesté.
Sebastian Vrancx (Antwerp 1573 - Id. 1647) was a true pioneer: he was certainly the first painter in the Southern Netherlands to distinguish himself in depictions of battle scenes, looting and brawls. But he also painted a wide range of subjects, such as scenes from society, biblical and historical episodes and depictions of the seasons. In 1612, he was elected dean of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke, succeeding Joos de Momper.
His use of colour was restrained, and his compositions were dominated by red and dark brown (our painting is a perfect example of this). He taught painting to Pieter Snayers, and strongly influenced the work of Pieter Meulener and Adam Frans Van der Meulen.