Offered by Galerie FC Paris
Flanders early 17th century
Oil on oak panel with parquet
Beautiful old frame, black molded and gilded foliage decoration (small lacks) original condition not resized.
Total dimensions : 65 x 82 cm. The panel alone : 47 x 64 cm.
Mythical subject, the construction of Babel inspired a great number of painters from the 16th century and among the best known: Pieter Breughel the elder, Hendrick III Van Cleef, Lucas van Valckenborch, Joos de Momper, Tobias Verhaecht etc.
The layout is almost the same for all the painters, the tower is in the center of the composition, to the right and left the landscape stretches into the distance and in the foreground the figures are always painted at the lower limit of the picture.
The myth of the Tower of Babel, a biblical reflection on human vanity, is based on historical facts. This story from the Genesis of the Old Testament testifies to the pride of the Babylonians who, in wanting to reach the heavens, sowed chaos on the earth. To punish them, God created tongues that prevented people from communicating with each other and scattered Noah's descendants across the globe.
There is no longer any doubt that the Tower of Babel really existed in the ancient city of Babylon in Mesopotamia. Numerous excavations in the region have revealed evidence of its existence and slow destruction.
Guilliam van Nieuwelandt was born in Antwerp in 1584 and died in Amsterdam in 1635. He was a painter, engraver, poet and dramatist of biblical and historical plays, and lived and worked in the southern and northern Netherlands.
He was a member of a family of artists, the first known representative of which was a certain Jacob van Nijeulandt, registered as a bourgeois in Antwerp in 1561. One of his four children, Willem van Nieulandt (1533-1596), married Adriana Nouts (died 1608), with whom he had three sons: Willem the Elder (1560-1626), Joris (1561-1626) and Adriaen (died 1603). Willem the Elder was the first painter of the family. He lived and worked as a painter and draughtsman in Rome, where he was known by the Italian name Guglielmo Terranova. He became a member of the Accademia di San Luca in that city in 1604. His brother Adriaen was an itinerant feather merchant who settled with his family in Amsterdam in 1589, probably because of his Calvinist convictions. Adriaen's sons - Guilliam the Younger (or II), Adriaen the Younger and Jacob - all became painters.
After the capture of Antwerp by Alexander Farnese, his family moved to Amsterdam around 1589
According to Houbraken (Dutch biographer), Guilliam the Younger learned the craft of painting in the studio of Jacob Savery and later with Roeland Savery.
He later left for Rome to perfect his knowledge.