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4 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OLD MASTER & 19 TH CENTURY PAINTINGS Karoline Weser weser@kollerauctions.com ONLINE CATALOGUES www.kollerauctions.com The literary work of the ancient epic poet Ovid, par- ticularly his “Metamorphoses” can scarcely be overes- timated as a source of inspiration for the arts of the Middle Ages and Baroque periods. The fifteen books of this epochal work of world literature, probably written circa 8 CE, contain hundreds of tales in verse about metamorphoses from ancient, mainly Greek mythology. The great Flemish master Jacob Jordaens employed this famous literary model to create his very secular, lifelike painting “Venus and Adonis” (ill. on cover). The large-format depiction shows Ve- nus holding Adonis, who was wounded during a hunt. He failed to heed Venus's warnings and confronted the wild animals: “Be bold when they run, but bravery is unsafe when faced with the brave. Do not be foolish, beware of endangering me, and do not provoke the creatures nature has armed, lest your glory is to my great cost. Neither youth nor beauty, nor the charms that affect Venus, affect lions or bristling boars or the eyes and minds of other wild creatures”. Adonis's impending death and his fateful transforma- tion are subtly conveyed to the viewer by the plant de- picted in the picture’s lower left, which at first glance appears inconspicuous: legend has it that Venus, in love with the beautiful young man, transformed the blood of the dying Adonis into an anemone, or “wind flower”. Unlike other depictions of the same scene, the present composition does not focus on dynam- ics, drama and tension by portraying the struggle be- tween Venus and Adonis. Rather, the artist seems to have been concerned with softening the unstoppable tragic events, depicting the two nearly naked bodies in a conciliatory manner. Jacob Jordaens, who was born in Antwerp in 1593 and died there in 1678, is considered one of the most important representatives of the “Antwerp School”, alongside Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. From 1615 he was master of the renowned St Luke's Guild. The mythically and erotically charged relation- ship of Venus and Adonis had already attracted oth- er masters before him, such as Titian – whose most famous depiction of this couple hangs in the Prado – and Titian’s contemporary, Paolo Veronese. Jordaens must have been familiar with works by the latter artist through his close relationship with Queen Christina of Sweden. Her art collection, including a “Venus and Adonis” by Veronese, was in Antwerp for a time after Christina's flight from Sweden, and while in Antwerp she commissioned Jordaens to execute some ceiling paintings. The Veronese painting of 1570 is consid- ered lost from the royal collection, but a drawing of it executed by Jordaens is conserved in the Louvre. Gerard van Honthorst, the brilliant head of the 17th-century Utrecht school of painting, invokes his great Italianmodel Caravaggio in this dramatically light- ed depiction of Mary Magdalene. Virtuosically painted candlelight motifs such as this one attracted the inter- est of established collectors such as the Medici early on. The Italians saw a kindred spirit in "Gherardo della notte" (Gerard of the Night), who lived and worked in Rome for a decade. He introduced influential Medi­ terranean artistic trends and subjects to Northern Europe and, thanks to his distinctive italianità , became a leading figure for the following generation. 1 2 Preview of the Old Master Paintings auction on 25 September 2020 The art of transformation 1 Pieter Claesz (1597–circa 1660) and Roelof Koets (1592–1655). Banquet Still Life. Oil on panel. 88 × 122 cm. Estimate: CHF 80 000/120 000 2 Cornelis (1631–1695) and David Cornelisz. de Heem (1663–1701). Flower still life. Oil on canvas. 50 × 40 cm. Estimate: CHF 120 000/150 000 3 Gerard van Honthorst (1592–1656). Mary Magdalene. Circa 1625. Oil on panel. 73.5 × 58 cm. Estimate: CHF 150 000/250 000