Pieter Neeffs the Elder (Flemish, active 1605–1656/61)
and Frans Francken III (Flemish, 1607–1667)
probably ca. 1635–40
Oil on copper
5 1/8 x 6 1/2 in. (13 x 16.5 cm)
Bequest of Edward C. Post, 1915
Not on view
Pieter Neeffs the Elder was the most prolific Flemish specialist in architectural views during the first half of the seventeenth century. Minute detail, artful illumination, and above all perspective effects— enhanced in these small works on copper by simulated marble frames—were designed to entrance private collectors. Neeffs’s usual subject is an imaginary Gothic church interior similar to that of Antwerp Cathedral, which bears some resemblance to the daylight view exhibited here.
Inscription: Signed: (right, under window) P.N.; (bottom center, on tomb) ffranck[en]
?Jean de Jullienne, Paris (by 1753–d. 1766; his estate sale, Remy & Julliot, Paris, March 30–May 22, 1767, no. 92 [with MMA 30.58.20], for Fr 800); Claude Tolozan, Paris (until 1801; his estate sale, Paillet, Paris, February 23–26, 1801, no. 76, for Fr 180 to Denon); baron Dominique-Vivant Denon, Paris (until d. 1825; his estate sale, Pérignon, Paris, May 1–19, 1826, no. 97 [with MMA 30.58.20], for Fr 620 to Billaudel); Wright E. Post, New York; Edward C. Post, New York (until d. 1915; life interest to his widow, Emilie Thorn Post, Newport, R.I., 1915–30)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Painter's Light," October 5–November 10, 1971, no. 8 (as "Procession in a Gothic Church at Night").
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Dominique-Vivant Denon: L'oeil de Napoléon," October 20, 1999–January 17, 2000, no. 530.
Musée départemental de Flandre. "Marguerite Yourcenar et la peinture flamande," October 13, 2012–January 27, 2013, not in catalogue.
J. B. Descamps. La Vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandois. Vol. 1, Paris, 1753, p. 271, mentions two small, oval church interiors in the Julienne collection, possibly this one and MMA 30.58.20.
Pierre Rémy and C. F. Julliot. Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, desseins & estampes . . . après le décès de M. de Jullienne . . . Paris, 1767, pp. 39–40, no. 92 [with MMA 30.58.20], Rémy mentions figures as by Van Thulden.
A[lexis]. N[icolas]. Pérignon. Description des objets d'arts [sic] qui composent le cabinet de feu M. le baron V. Denon. Vol. 1, Tableaux, dessins et miniatures. Paris, 1826, p. 45, no. 97 [with MMA 30.58.20].
"The Bequest of Edward C. Post." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 25 (July 1930), pp. 162–63.
Ursula Härting. Letter to Walter Liedtke. September 22, 1980, attributes the figures to Frans Francken III.
Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 134–35; vol. 2, pl. 56.
This painting and its pendant (MMA 30.58.20) depict two different churches, but both are variations of the Antwerp Cathedral type, within which Neeffs freely added and subtracted specific details. Frans Francken II (1581–1642) very frequently painted the staffage in the works of Pieter Neeffs I. Ursula Härting [see Ref. 1980], however, convincingly identifies the hand of his son, Frans Francken III, in these pendants and in other works by Neeffs in which the figures were formerly thought to be by Frans II.