Archive for the ‘Brueghel, Pieter the Younger’ Category

Two views of a massacre

April 3, 2014
Probably Pieter Breughel the Younger, The Massacre of the Innocents, at Upton House. ©National Trust/Angelo Hornak, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

Probably Pieter Breughel the Younger, The Massacre of the Innocents, at Upton House. ©National Trust/Angelo Hornak, image supplied by the Public Catalogue Foundation

The team at Upton House are raising funds to conserve the painting Massacre of the Innocents, possibly painted by Pieter Breughel the Younger (1564-1638).

The Upton Breughel awaiting conservation. ©National Trust

The Upton Breughel awaiting conservation. ©National Trust

It has been in need of attention for a while, and is now looking a bit sorry for itself, covered in stabilising tissue ‘plasters’. A JustGiving page has been opened to help raise the £15,000 required for the extensive investigation and treatment.

The picture shows the massacre of children ordered by Herod following the birth of Christ. But there is also a political undertone to the imagery: it is set in a Flemish village, with the figures clad as in Breughel’s own time. It is thought to be a semi-veiled reference to the atrocities committed by the troops of the Spanish Habsburgs who then ruled the Netherlands.

Pieter Breughel the Elder (c.1525-69), Massacre of the Innocents, in the Royal Collection. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Pieter Breughel the Elder (c.1525-69), Massacre of the Innocents, in the Royal Collection. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

There is a version of this painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder in the Royal Collection, in which the image of massacre has been partially repainted to make it look less gruesome. Interestingly, this was done when that picture was owned by the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, also a Habsburg – an example of sixteenth-century ‘image management’.


Brueghel to stay at Nostell

January 6, 2011

Image Robert Thrift

I have just heard the wonderful news that sufficient funds have been raised  for the National Trust to acquire the Nostell Brueghel. The National Heritage Memorial Fund provided the final £1,034,000 towards the £2.7m purchase price. 

Image Robert Thrift

Members of the public donated £680,000 to the campaign and £510,000 was contributed by trusts and foundations. Special plaudits should go to the Art Fund, which not only gave a grant of £500,000, but also contributed its fundraising expertise. This has been an excellent example of charities working together to achieve a common goal.

The National Gallery and York Art Gallery have been showing the painting for the last few months, but it will shortly return to Nostell Priory, where it will be on display from the end of February. See here for previous posts about the Brueghel.

Almost there

December 8, 2010

The procession to Calvary, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/5-1637/8)

The campaign launched jointly by the National Trust and the Art Fund to purchase the Nostell Brueghel is now in its final stages.

The Persian Sibyl, by the studio of Guercino (1591-1666), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/John Hammond

So far the fundraising has gone well, with generous support from both private donors and institutions.

Sir Thomas More and his family, by Rowland Lockey (c 1565-1616) after Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8-1543), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/John Hammond

But it is still not certain whether we will be able to get all the necessary funds together by the Christmas deadline. The Art Fund website is still open for donations.

Still life by Pieter Claesz. (1597/8-1660), at Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/Matthew Hollow

Keeping the Brueghel at Nostell Priory, where it can be seen together with all the other great paintings from the Winn collection still in the house, would be a marvelous Christmas present for us all. So here’s hoping the final push will succeed.

A Yorkshire treasure house

October 6, 2010

The east front of Nostell Priory. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

In my previous post I featured a major painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger which we are trying to purchase for Nostell Priory. One of the reasons we want to keep the painting at Nostell is that it has a long connection to the house, which gives it added meaning and value.

The library at Nostell, remodelled by Adam and with furniture by Chippendale - the desk is one of his masterpieces. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Nostell is one of the treasure houses of Yorkshire. It was decorated by Robert Adam, and Thomas Chippendale supplied much of the furniture.

A scene from The Tempest (Act I, Scene II) by William Hogarth, acquired from the Winn family in 2002 with the help of the Art Fund. ©NTPL/John Hammond

But there is also an extraordinary collection of paintings at Nostell, evidence of the collecting of several generations of the Winn family.

Sir Rowland and Lady Winn in the library at Nostell (see the photograph of the same room above), attributed to Hugh Douglas Hamilton, 1770. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Sir Rowland Winn, 5th Baronet, not only commissioned Adam and Chippendale, but was also an avid collector of paintings.

All the building and collecting rather overstretched Sir Rowland’s finances, but by the time his grandson Charles Winn inherited Nostell in 1805 the family fortune had been sufficiently restored to allow for further acquisitions.

Adoration of the Magi by the Master of St Severin, photographed following conservation. ©National Trust

Charles Winn was a scholar with an interest in antiquities and old master paintings. The National Trust recently purchased an Adoration of the Magi by the early sixteenth century German painter known as the Master of St Severin, which was originally brought to Nostell by Charles Winn.

The artist hesitating between the arts of Music and Painting, by Angelica Kauffman, 1791 or 1794. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Even in the twentieth century the Winn family was still collecting. Angelica Kauffman’s wonderful self-portrait hesitating between Music and Painging was bought for Nostell by the 2nd Lord St Oswald in 1908.

The ceiling in the Tapestry Room, designed by Adam and with paintings by Zucchi. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

There is a connection between Kauffman and Nostell through her husband Antonio Zucchi, who was commissioned by Adam to produce decorative paintings for various rooms in the house.

The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Image Robert Thrift

The Brueghel we are trying to acquire is an important part of this extraordinarily rich mixture of architecture, art and design. Please support the campaign to keep it at Nostell.

Let’s save the Nostell Brueghel

October 4, 2010

Image Robert Thrift

An amazing painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger with a provenance from Nostell Priory is up for sale. The National Trust and the Art Fund have just started a joint campaign to purchase this picture, so that it can remain on public view at Nostell.

Image Robert Thrift

The painting, dated 1602, shows Christ being taken to Calvary to be crucified. But Christ himself is almost lost in the milling crowd. Some of the people are dressed in pseudo-Biblical costume, and others are wearing seventeenth-century Flemish dress.

Image Robert Thrift

On the left we can see Jerusalem bathed in sunshine. It looks rather like a Netherlandish town, complete with church spires and a windmill. 

Image Robert Thrift

On the right the procession winds its way towards Calvary, with the sky darkening ominously above. Mary Magdalene and other women can be seen grieving at the foot of a tree that has lost its leaves.

Image Robert Thrift

Close by, two little children sit cosily together by the side of the road watching the procession go past. These little everyday details make it seem as if the passion of Christ is taking place right here, right now.

Image Robert Thrift

The Art Fund have already contributed £500,000 to the campaign, and we hope to raise the remaining £2.2 million by Christmas. Click here to discover more about the picture and to make a donation.
To enable as many people as possible to see the Nostell Brueghel during the fundraising campaign, the painting will be on view at the National Gallery in London from 5 October to 9 November 2010, and then at the York Art Gallery from 18 November until Christmas.