35. [Flemish school]
Circle of BRIL, Paul
Drawing, pen and brown ink, 62,2 x 43,5 cm, thick laid paper, no watermark, illegible signature (?) at lower right (rectangular section of 13,5 x 16,2 cm at upper right missing and restored with laid paper, sm. repaired tear at lower central edge, sm. piece cut off at right edge).
Fascinating woodscape with winding river and antique ruins in the background. The composition with the strongly pronounced tree on the foreground in combination with a meandering river landscape in the back is typical for the "Lugt-group" which found its origin in the Roman workshop environment of Paul Bril (1554-1626) around the 1590s. The drawings associated with this group all show wooded scenes, often with animals at the foot of trees and executed in a style reminiscent of Titian (1488-1576). Although these vertical sheets differ among themselves, they often are variations of the same composition. The genesis of these drawings has been analysed by Wood Ruby and can be seen as a result from a collaboration between Jan Breughel the Elder (1568-1625) and Paul Bril. The relationship between these two painters in Rome was very close. "When Jan arrived in the Eternal City around 1592, Bril had already received papal commissions. [...] Many Netherlandish artists found their way to Bril's studio in the 1580s and 1590s. Jan Breughel not only copied drawings of both Paul and Mathijs Bril during this period, he also copied drawings by his father that he had apparently brought to Rome with him. From their collaboration and their joint exposure to Pieter Bruegel the Elder's drawings, its is generally been accepted that Jan Breughel the Elder and Paul Bril developed the genre of woodscape landscape." (Wood Ruby 2012). The present sheet shows some striking similarities to other drawings which have been associated with this group. The overall composition seems to be a variation on "Wooded Ravine with Distant Harbor View" in the Pierpont Morgan collection, attributed to Paul Bril ( inv. III,144). Within the same compositional group also a drawing recently attributed to Paul Bril (previously attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder), in the Harvard Art Museum, Fogg collection (inv. 1977.4) follows the same structuring of the landscape. In addition, the technical execution of the Fogg drawing with a strongly pronounced tree with massive trunks and roots in the left foreground is handled in a similar way in this drawing. The small boat on the river in the right foreground is a mirror version of a fishing boat that can be spotted in the "Pond in a Wood", a drawing by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, now in the collection of the KBR (inv. SII 113 145). Although no vertical landscape drawings can be found within the oeuvre of Bril or Jan Breughel, the horizontal landscapes by Pieter Breugel the Elder have been drafted on similar-sized sheets.
Ref. L. Wood Ruby, The drawings of Paul Bril, Turnhout 1999. - H. Mielke, "Pieter Brueghel: Die Zeichnungen", 1996, no. 1. - L. Wood Ruby, Bruegel/Breughel/Bril: The Lugt Group revisited, in: Master Drawings 50 (2012), pp. 357-64.
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