The Adoration of the Magi panel

A triptych oil on oak panel of The Adoration of the Magi attributed to ‘circle or workshop’ of Pieter Coecke van Aelst the Elder, estimated at £150,000-£200,000 at Martel Maides on March 7.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The auction house has attributed the triptych depicting the Adoration of the Magi to ‘circle or workshop’ of Flemish artist Pieter Coecke van Aelst the Elder (1502-50). It has an estimate of £150,000-£200,000 at the March 7 auction.

Martel Maides’ painting specialist Jonathan Voak said: “No signed and very few documented paintings by Pieter Coecke van Aelst have survived. He is known to have operated a large workshop where numerous assistants followed his original designs and produced works under his supervision.

“This triptych bears a close resemblance to others ascribed to him but this example is unique with its own peculiarities, not a copy or replica. It’s distinguished by an intriguing inscription, ‘NAC’, on the column fragment and a Latin inscription on the seal of Balthazar’s hat – features which do not appear in other versions. The Latin inscription SAPI V. Dioc. Nictu (I will give you my wisdom) is a biblical reference taken from Luke 21:15.

“Interestingly the artist has diverged from traditional practice by incorporating the figures in the wings into the central composition (Saint Joseph on the right and Balthazar on the left). Normally at that time, the two wings were not integrated into the main subject in the centre. This new approach was adopted by artists of the next generation.”

Head study

One of four head studies of bearded men, sanguine and black chalk on laid paper, attributed to circle of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, estimated at £30,000-40,000 at Martel Maides on March 7.

Martel Maides will also offer four early 17th century Old Master drawings as a single lot estimated at £30,000-40,000 in the same sale. Attributed to the circle of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), the drawings in sanguine and black chalk, relate to an album of 94 drawings that French painter, collector, art critic and diplomat Roger de Piles (1635-1709) purchased from Rubens’ nephew, Philip. Copies of these drawings were made by a number of French artists in the 18th century.

Voak said these recent consignments followed the auction house’s sale of a lost Constable that took £200,000 in September 2023 (a reported in ATG No 2612). Voak added: “Since then we are attracting significant works of art from private collections on the island.”