The painting we're offering through the mythological figures of Venus, Apollo and Cupid, deals with the theme of the evanescence of love and its relationship with time.
Oil on copper, 17th century Flemish school
Attributed to Hendrick de Clerck (Brussels, 1570-1630)
Dimensions: copper: h. 33 cm, l. 26 cm,
Elegant Flemish-style frame in ebonized wood and tortoiseshell.
Dimensions framed: h. 46 cm, l. 38 cm
In the heart of a wooded landscape, Apollo standing, draped in a red cloth, plays the violin, while the beautiful naked Venus listens to him, seated on a rock to the left, draped in a blue cloth.
In the center of the composition a round of putti is frolicking and dancing to the sound of the violin, led by the cupid. The four putti symbolize the seasons, each holding a corresponding attribute, bunches of grapes for fall, a wreath of wheat for summer, a wreath of flowers for spring, and a wreath of mistletoe for winter.
In the heavens, appearing in a luminous breakthrough, cherubs spread flowers on the characters. They hold respectively an hourglass and a sickle, attributes of time (hourglass which indicates the time and false which shows that time can make everything disappear).
A pair of white doves (symbolizing love and loyalty) nestle in a tree whose trunk is covered with climbing roses
The plant frame on either side of the painting leaves an opening to the distant horizon in its center, dominated by turquoise green tones.
Beautiful and rich palette associated with the great finesse of execution help to make our painting both precious and harmonious.
The different symbols present are not sufficient to decipher the painter's message: should we hurry to love each other or is the running of time is the enemy of love ...
Allegorical subjects are one of the favorite themes of Flemish painters from early 17th century. Painters beyond their status as artists, are frequently philosophers, collectors and humanists open to the world. Often they are the few lucky ones who are able to travel as part of their profession, this discovery of the world sharpens the mind and there are many who, through their works, seek to represent their way of seeing the world.
Hendrik de Clerck was probably the pupil of Martin de Vos (1532-1593) in Antwerp before traveling to Italy. On his return to Brussels in 1594, he was appointed court painter to Archduke Ernest and later to Archdukes Albert and Isabelle, governors of the Netherlands. Besides large religious compositions, he painted numerous mythological and allegorical scenes of small dimensions in which he demonstrates a very personal way of representing bodies. The graceful and languid poses, the pronounced musculature and translucent skin tones of his figures as well as his rich palette of colors are characteristic of his works. His easily recognizable style is linked to late mannerism and is reminiscent of the work of Hans Rottenhammer and Hendrik van Balen.