1534 Leuwen - 1612 Frankfurt
Gouache, 17,5 x 26 cm
We are grateful to Dr. Alexander Wied to confirm this attribution
Karl van Mander, biographer of Dutch artists states that Lucas van Valckenborch was tutored in Mechelen, a center for oil and water colours as well as landscape painting. The apprenticeship Valckenborch received in Mechelen in the terms of opaque paint on paper as well as colour application remain significant for his work. In comparison of Valckenborchs oil paintings to smaller paintings executed in gouache or tempera, it is clearly see that he masters the different techniques without compromise.
In 1579 Valckenborch received the convocation of Archduke Matthias of Austria who was governor of the Netherlands at that time, and followed him as court painter to Linz, where he stayed for about eleven years. Valckenborch was a diligent landscape painter. In his paintings one can see that the composition is withdrawn for the benefit of a more natural and more probable aperture of landscape. The composed landscape painting in the manner of Hans Bol and Jakob Grimmer is rejected by Valckenborch. His views are depending on the real, marked by a clean execution and bright colours.
The given painting "Maximilian, archduke of Austria visiting a vineyard", Gouache, 17,5 x 26 cm, Monogrammed is the only larger preserved painting on parchment by Valckenborch that is yet known.1 It is very close to a painting by Valckenborch named "Archduke Matthias at the grape harvest",Panel, 41 x 63,5 cm, Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Swedish Private Collection. At first sight our gouache and the Swedish painting seem to show the same scene. The differences between them can only be revealed at a closer view.
Valckenborch chose the same display of the landscape for both paintings. Even the staffage figures are very likely to be the same apart from some variation in details. Bearing in mind that the Archdukes Matthias and Maximilian were brothers, it is very likely that the Gouache painting was meant as a present for Maximilian. As earlier mentioned, Valckenborchs quality as a painter was not dependent on oil colour or on scale. Therefore one can see that our painting shows the same details and meticulous execution as the Swedish painting.
In the foreground either Archduke Matthias, or Maximilian both dressed in blue with a red waistcoat are seen, but their features are different. Right behind the Archduke there is a self portrait of Lucas van Valckenborch dressed in black. The town could not be identified so far, it could easily be the case that it is a combination of town sketches from his travels.
Lucas van Valckenborchs' landscapes are certainly the most distinguished achievements in northern 16th century painting. Alexander Wied suggests that the Stockholm picture is part of a seasons cycle and has to be put in relation to: „Town view of Antwerp in Winter", Panel, 42,5 x 63,5 cm, Monogrammed and dated, Städelsches Kunstinstitut. "Landscape in Springtime with elegant People", Panel, 41x 64 cm, Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Art Trade. "The Mower's Rest",Panel, 40 x 64 cm,Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Privat Collection, USA.2
Alexander Wieds' suggestion of a seasons cycle is very probable and therefore it seems to be also possible that our picture might be the only conserved painting of a seasons cycle, painted in a smaller scale and in gouache.
1 cf: Alexander Wied, In: "Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museum Wien", Bd. 6/7, Mainz 2004/2005, p. 105
2 cf: Alexander Wied, "Lucas und Marten van Valckenborch; Das Gesamtwerk mit kritischem Œvrekatalog", Luca Verlag, Freren, 1990, p.184 no 92
Alexander Wied, In: "Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museum Wien", Bd. 6/7, Mainz 2004/2005, ill.no 15, p. 105.
Archduke Matthias at the grape harvest, Panel, 41 x 63,5 cm, Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Swedish Private Collection
The Mower's Rest, Panel, 40 x 64 cm, Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Private Collection, USA
Landscape in Springtime with elegant People, Panel, 41 x 64 cm, Monogrammed and dated, 1597, Art Trade
Townview of Antwerp in Winter, Panel, 42,5 x 63,5 cm, Monogrammed and dated, Städelsches Kunstinstitut