Angellis had a successful international career thanks to his sensitivity to melt his own personal Flemish style with the local pictorial traditions, be it in London, Rome or Rennes. He was talented in combining the narrative qualities of David Teniers II with the refinement of Antoine Watteau when painting elegant figures in very diverse, lively, colourful, often small-scale compositions.
Our painting is recorded at the RKD, The Hague since it was sold at Sotheby’s London in 2005. It must have been a preliminary study for a similar composition, actually one of a pair, purchased in 2014 by the Portland Art Museum. Its counterpart is dated 1727. Angellis left London, where he had been very successful, in 1728 for Rome.
About Pieter Angellis
Dunkirk 1685 – 1734 Rennes
His last name is sometimes spelt Angillis or Angelis.
The North Sea harbour town of Dunkirk was traditionally part of the Burgundian Netherlands, which later became the Spanish Netherlands. But the Dutch, French and English regularly tried to conquer it. In 1662 it finally became part of the Kingdom of France.
Angellis was a versatile painter of landscapes, joyful genre scenes, picturesque market scenes, conversation pieces (informal, but elegant group portraits in sophisticated colours of families or friends set in a domestic interior or more often in a garden setting) and still lifes.
Master in the Painter’s Guild of Antwerp in the year 1715/1716. A few years later, in 1719, he settled in London, where he was very successful in English aristocratic circles, he remained here until 1728. His studio was in Covent Garden. Many Flemish artists moved in those days to London, where a thriving art market developed: the landscape painter Peter Tillemans in 1708, his brother-in-law the still-life painter Peter Casteels III around 1717, our painter and the genre scene and portrait painter Joseph van Aken circa 1719, the conversation piece specialist Joseph Francis Nollekens in 1733.
In 1728 Angellis went to Rome with the sculptors Peter Scheemakers II and Laurent Delvaux; they stayed there for three years. According to Horace Walpole (1798) he was actually too shy and reserved to make it in Italy. Angellis (and his two friends?) travelled in 1730 to Düsseldorf, a town that he had already visited in his youth, studying the paintings in the Electoral Gallery. Our painter intended to return to England, but when he reached Rennes, the capital of Brittany, he found good business here and decided to stay. He died in Rennes a few years later, in 1734.