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Joos van Cleve, ca. 1485 Kleve - 1541 Antwerpen - Workshop. Christ and baby John, embracing.

Oil on Oak. 25,4 x 25,1cm. Framed. Verso: Old handwritten gummed label. Estimation : 100 000 €

Provenance:
- Collection Ferdinand von Hompesch, the last great master of the Maltese order of knighthood.;
- Gift to Duke Raczinsky, Russia, presumably ca. 1797-98;
- Collection François de Labensky, Director of the Imperial Hermitage, St. Petersburg (up to 1843);
- Inherited by his nephew, Camille de Labensky (up to 1871);
- Inherited by his daughter, Louise de Koudriaffsky, born De Labensky (up to 1916);
- Inherited by his son, Alexandre de Koudriaffsky, Minister in Brussels (up to 1931);
- Inherited by his nephew, Baron Axel Klinkowström, Stafsund, Ekerö (up to 1936);
- Inherited by his son, Baron Harald Klinckowström, Stafsund, Ekerö (up to 1973);
- Inherited by his wife Mrs. Blanka Klinckowström;
- Bought during the 1970s by the current owner from the collection of Mrs. Blanka Klinckowström;
- Since 1993 as permanent loan in the Städelschen Art Institue in Frankfurt.

Exhibitions:
Städel-Museum Frankfurt, 1995-96.

Literature:
- C.P.: «Leonardo in Sweden», Accademia Leonardo Vinci. In: Journal of Leonardo Studies &
Bibliography of Vinciana VI (1993), p. 205, Fig. 19;
- Sander,J.: «Leonardo in Antwerpen. Joos van Cleves 'Christus- und Johannesknabe, einander umarmend», Städel Jahrbuch NF 15 (1995), pass. (als Joos van Cleve);
- Sander, J.: 'Die Entdeckung der Kunst'. Niederländische Kunst des 15. und
16.Jahrhunderts in Frankfurt. Städelsches Kunstinstitut und städtische Galerie Frankfurt
am Main 1995, p. 188-191, 205, No. 67, Fig. 181 (full-colour figure);
- Hand, J.O.: Joos van Cleve. The complete paintings. New Haven & London 2004, p. 96-99, 164, nr. 81.2 (Werkstatt Joos van Cleve);
- Leeflang, M.: 'Uytnemende Schilder van Antwerpen'. Joos van Cleve: atelier, productie en
werkmethoden. Dissertation Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 2006, p. 138-139, 259, No. 88;
- Wolff, M.: Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of
Chicago. A Catalogue of the Collection. New Haven & London 2008, 159-167.

Notes: This motif was extremely popular, in the Lombardy as well as amongst the Antwerp painters of the early 16th C. Most examples we know today originated in the workshop of Joos van der Beke, also known as Van Cleve, born in the Lower Rhine ca. 1485. He became renowned, however in Antwerp, the largest art metropolitan of Europe between 1510 and 1540. Here Joos van Cleve died ca. 1540-41. The composition of the two children refers to a model of Leonardo da Vinci, today only known through a drawing, currently in Windsor Casle, in the collection of the english Queen. Joos van Cleve undoubtedly came in contact with da Vinci's work in Paris, where he, according to Guicciardini, was invited to paint portraits of King Francis I of France and his wife Eleonora of Austria/Castille. (L. Guicciardini, Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi, altrimenti detti Germania inferiore. Antwerp 1567).
Joos van Cleve is said to have paid this visit only after 1530, for this was the year of marriage between Francis and Eleonore. Indeed, Joos was not mentioned in Antwerp between 1529 and 1534. These portraits still exists, in Philadelphia (Francis), Vienna and Hampton Court (Eleonora). In the workshop of Van Cleve many copies of the two portraits originated afterwards. In the royal collection Van Cleve was definately confronted with the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci - who spent his last years in the palace of Francis I - and his followers. The theme of the kissing children as well as the so-called Madonna with cherries were copied by van Cleve from works in the royal collection and reproduced in his Antwerp workshop.

The provenance of this small picture is especially impressive. Count Raczinsky, special envoy of emporer Paul I visited the last great master of the Maltese order of knighthood, Ferdinand von Hompesch, in Malta between 1797-98 and recieved this painting as a gift. Raczinsky sold the painting in St. Petersburg to François de Labensky, director of the emperial hermitage. From his last will it becomes clear that he found the painting to be one of his most important possessions. It is listed as a work of Leonardo da Vinci with the price of 15 000 platinum rouble - an exceptionally high price. On the verso of the board a handwritten text can be found in which Leonardo da Vinci is mentioned as painter.
After Labensky's death the painting remained in family possession up to the late 1970s. During this time it was bought from the property of Blanka Klinckowström for the collection of the current owner. The attribution to Leonardo da Vinci is long since out of date, does, however, show the relation with the author of the composition. In 1995 Jochen Sander attributed the work to Joos van Cleve himself and took it for the long lost first edition created by the painter during his stay in Paris. His main argument is, that the composition was created on a re-used piece of oak from a cabinet. According to Jochen Sander, the use of such material would not be accepted by the guild in Antwerp. This, however would only be the case should the work be on offer for sale, and, as Sander might have correctly mentioned in his conclusion, the artist intended this work
«allein für einen späteren internen Werkstattgebrauch vorgesehen, nicht aber für einen Verkauf auf dem Antwerpener Kunstmarkt». [solely for the later use in his internal workshop, not however for selling to the Antwerp Artsmarket]. In truth one may presume that the work at hand was one of the first editions of the theme in Joos van Cleve's workhop. It is however unlikely that he painted the work in Paris. The time it would take for the many layers of paint to dry does not concur with the time he spent in Paris. Joos van Cleve definately made detailled drawings in Paris, not just of Eleonora and Francis I., but also of the works in the royal collection he found interest in (especially the two already mentioned motifs with the kissing children and the madonna with cherries). The model for the kissing children were definately the painting my Marco d'Oggionos, currently in Hampton Court. Martha Wolff proved that Joos van Cleve did not just study the painting by Marco d'Oggione in detail, but created a mechanical copy of it, meaning he copied the outlines with a transparent cardboard and used this drawing ever again in different editions in his workshop. The landscape, on the other hand, is a creation of Joos van Cleve himself. Our painting can be compared in this context very well with the version in Brussels and especially that which is in Chicago and was painted as commission by the Amsterdam banker Pompejus Occo. Presumably our painting was used as studio model and was the prototype for the Brussels painting as well as many other paintings with this theme. Peter van den Brink

Vente du Vendredi 21 novembre 2008. Peintures et Sculptures Anciennes et du XIXe Siècle. Van Ham - Cologne - Allemagne