CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The exhibition of one painting. The “Interior with figures in a picture gallery”, Gonzales Coques

Exhibition: 1 July - 30 November 2016

The famous Flemish painting, An Interior with Figures in a Picture Gallery, is displayed by the Royal Łazienki in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague. It is the second edition of works of art from the Mauritshuis; before, the painting “Flowers in a Glass Vase” by Abraham Mignon, a Baroque Dutch painter, was shown in the Palace on the Isle.

Now the time has come for Flemish painters, who represent a specific genre of the 17th century – gallery paintings, which depicted collections of works of art (views of private collections or artistic workshops).

The “Interior with figures in a picture gallery” is one of the most interesting examples of this theme in painting art of the second half of the 17th century. It was painted by several artists, who worked under the direction of Gonzales Coques (1614/1618-1684) – the lead artist of the painting.

Unknown painters

The painting depicts walls of a stately interior of a palace divided with monumental columns made of red marble and filled with pictures. Gildings, balusters, sculpted festoons and cartouches are combined to create baroque splendour. On the table standing in the middle, there are plaster sculptures, bronze items as well as prints, and behind the table sits a young woman. The man standing next to her rests his hand on a sculpted bust making a gesture which we know from 16th century Venetian images of collectors. Two children stand behi- are pointed towards the viewer.

The execution of the architectural part of the painting (wall, columns, sculpted decorations, etc.) is attributed to an Antwerp creator of imaginative, architectural views – Wilhelm van Ehrenberg (1630-1687/1707), or the Dutch painter of palaces and churches based in Middelburg – Dirck van Delen (1604/1605-1671).

It has not been settled which artist created this part of the painting, but researchers agree that it was not Coques, but a specialist in architecture. Technical research conducted in 2001 proved that the “paintings within the painting” hanging on the walls of the gallery were painted by other painters – even up to five artists. Their names remain unidentified.

The Judgement of Paris, the Triumph of Bachus

The “paintings within the painting” are copies of paintings by primarily Antwerp painters working in the second half of the 17th century. In order to help the viewer enjoy the intellectual pastime of solving the puzzle of “paintings within the painting”, their painters’ initials, and in some cases, full signatures are left on the paintings (which is rare in gallery paintings).

The paintings include, among others, “the Judgement of Paris” by Theodor Boeijermans, “the Triumph of Bachus” by Jan Cossiers, “Jesus Healing the Centurion’s Servant” by Jan Ykens, a painter permanently employed by van Leyen, “Proserpina Turning Ascalaphus into an Owl”, by Charles Emmanuel Biset, “Italianized View With Travelling Musicians” by Anton Goubau, “Allegory of Antwerp” by Erasmus Quellinus II, “Still Life with Animals” by Peeter Gijsels, “Still Life With Fruit” by Pieter Boel, “Still Life With Butterflies” by Jan van Kessel, “Marine Scenery” by Jan Peeters, “Cymon and Iphigenia” by Jan de Duyts, “Venus and Adonis” by Jaspar Jacob van Opstal, and in the background, copies of various portraits by famous masters – van Dyck, Rubens and Velasquez, suspended around the fire place.