17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings

Alsloot and Hendrick de Clerck, Denis van
38.000 €

Venus discovering Adonis in a mountainous forest landscape
Oil on canvas : 57,5 X 84,5 cm
Frame : 77,6 X 105,5 cm
I would like to thank Dr. Luuk Pijl who has confirmed the attribution to both painters January 2022

In short
Our mythological landscape was painted by two important court painters of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella: Denis van Alsloot II painted the landscape, Hendrick de Clerck the figures at right.
The scene represents Venus discovering her dying lover, Adonis, who was wounded by a boar. The Roman author Ovid wrote down 250 Greek myths in his “Metamorphoses” during the first century AD. That Latin book was translated in Dutch and published by Karel van Mander, a Dutch painter of Flemish origin, in 1604.
About Denis van Alsloot II
Flemish painter
Mechelen (Malines) circa 1570 – circa 1627, probably in Brussels
Landscape painter of both summer and winter views.
Presumably the son of a tapestry weaver, who carried the same name.
Teacher unknown, strongly influenced by Gillis III van Coninxloo (circa 1581 – 1619/20) and the School of Frankenthal.
Van Alsoot spent his complete career in Brussels. In 1599 he joined the local Painter’s Guild. He was probably that same year appointed court painter to the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. Van Alsloot recorded their estates, their festivities and processions.
About Hendrick de Clerck
Flemish painter
Brussels circa 1560 – 1630 Brussels
History (religious, mythological and allegorical subjects) and genre scene painter.
Staffage painter for Denis van Alsloot II, Jan Brueghel I, Jacques d’Arthois and Joos de Momper.
According to Arnold Houbraken (1718) pupil of Maerten de Vos.
De Clerck travelled between 1586 and 1590 to Rome; he also visited Naples. At his return he settled in his birthplace Brussels, remaining here until his death in 1630.
In 1606 he was appointed court painter to the Archdukes Albert and Isabella.
About the subject of our painting
This Greek myth was also told in the “Metamorphoses” of the famous Roman poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC – 18 AD), a compilation of 250 myths written in Latin verses. These were translated in Dutch and published in 1604 by Karel van Mander (1548 – 1606), a Flemish-born Dutch painter, writer and art theoretician. This translation was part of van Mander’s famous “Book of Painting” (“Schilder-Boeck”). That book was a compilation of three books: a translation of the “Lives” of Vasari, a similar collection of lives of Dutch, Flemish and German painters, and finally a translation of The Metamorphoses, that was followed by a guide explaining the figures. Van Mander died already two years after the publication of his “Schilder-Boeck”, which became very influential. In 1618 a second edition was published. His version of the Metamorphoses became so popular that it was sold as a separate book.
The goddess of Love, Venus, had warned her lover Adonis, a mortal man, of the dangers of savage beasts. But he ignored her warning and as soon as she left he took his hounds out to hunt wild boars. Adonis soon found a boar and wounded the animal with his spear. But the boar shook loose the weapon and killed Adonis.
Venus found Adonis almost dead. She transformed his blood into the blood-red anemone flower.
About our painting
Van Alsloot regularly worked for compositions holding figures with so-called staffage painters: Sebastiaen Vrancx, our Hendrick de Clerck, Jan Brueghel I and Anthonis Sallaert.
Of these painters he used Hendrick de Clerck most often, either for paintings signed by both artists, but also regularly in paintings that were signed by van Alsloot only or that remained unsigned.
De Clerck executed his mythological figures in a late Mannerist style, reminding of Hans Rottenhammer and of Hendrick van Balen I.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is an important discovery: a beautiful early 17th century, late Mannerist landscape holding one of Ovid’s most famous stories, painted by two famous Habsburg court painters from Brussels.