Adriaen van Stalbemt was an important and versatile Baroque painter from Antwerp. He did not often sign his works. The attribution of our painting has been confirmed by Klaus Ertz.
Antwerp thanked its prosperity to maritime trade, hence the popularity of such a mythological theme: the festive procession of the the Graeco-Roman Sea gods Poseidon (Neptune) and Amphitrite arriving at their wedding feast, where the other gods are wating for them.
About Adriaen van Stalbemt
Antwerp 1580 – 1662 Antwerp
Painter of landscapes, history subjects (biblical and mythological), genre and allegorical scenes and gallery pictures.
Van Stalbemts parents fled in 1585 from Antwerp, following its re-conquest under Alessandro Farnese, because of the persecution of Protestants by the Spanish Catholics. They settled in the nearby (Dutch) province of Zeeland, in Middelburg. Our painter returned in 1609 to Antwerp, where he became Master in the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke. In 1618 he was elected Dean. He was chiefly active in Antwerp. In 1633 he worked for seven months (some sources mention ten months) in London, at the request of King Charles I.
Van Stalbemt is known to have collaborated with several important painters, such as the brothers Jan I and Pieter II Brueghel, and with Frans Francken II.
His oeuvre shows great stylistic and thematic variety. He was open to the influence of very diverse painters, such as Jan Brueghel I, Gillis van Coninxloo II, Adam Elsheimer and Hendrick van Balen.
He was an excellent landscape painter, but also a good figure painter, known for his harmonious compositions filled with subtle details.
Usually van Stalbemt did not sign his works. There are only ten signed and dated paintings known between 1604 and 1629.
About our painting
The Greek god of the Sea Poseidon (his Roman name is Neptune) fell in love with the sea nymph Amphitrite when he saw her dancing on the shores of the Island of Naxos. She was the most beautiful of the Nereids, daughters of the minor sea god Nereus. Amphitrite was afraid of this mighty god’s proposal and fled to the most remote part of the Ocean, to Atlas. It was finally a dolphin who discovered and persuaded Amphitrite to return and marry Poseidon.
At left Stalbemt has painted the triumphal, processional ride of the newly wed couple in a magnificent chariot, surrounded by sea creatures, such as Nereids (sea nymphs),Tritons (half man - half fish) and Hippocamps (fish-tailed horses that are pulling their carriage).
At right an assembly of gods is waiting for the wedding feast to start. One recognizes Zeus (Jupiter) wearing a crown at right, to his right the goddess of the Hunt Artemis (Diana) with a moon crescent in her hair. Next to her sits Zeus’s wife Hera (Juno) and Dionysos (Bacchus), god of the Wine. In the back sits Athena (Minerva), still wearing her helmet at table.
In Flemish painting this highly original subject of the Triumph of Poseidon and Amphitrite was created by Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581 – 1642 Antwerp) at the beginning of his career, which started in 1605. Over the years Francken himself painted over twenty paintings representing this subject. He regularly repeated successful poses and parts of his early compositions. His workshop also produced several variations on this theme.
Any subject relating to the Sea god Poseidon (Neptune) was popular in Antwerp, a town that thanked its prosperity to overseas trade. This is emphasized by the marvellous collection of exotic shells in the centre and right foreground.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this Antwerp painting is an ode to Classical culture and to maritime trade.