One is an Old Master painting recently unveiled at the Mauritshuis in The Hague.
The 9 x 6in (23 x 16cm) oil on panel is by Adriaen Brouwer (c.1605-38), a Flemish artist. It depicts a man gazing into a mirror as he carefully trims his moustache and is thought to exemplify pride.
Brouwer’s series of deadly sins pictures, produced near the end of his life, has long been dispersed. For years the only known original was ‘Fat Man’ (probably representing lust) which is part of the collection of the Mauritshuis. When ‘Pride’ appeared as only the second original picture in the series, the museum jumped at the chance to add it to the collection.
The rest of the series is known through later copies, particularly a complete series by Joos van Craesbeeck, Brouwer’s student and collaborator, which went under the hammer in Paris in 1902. The example in question was, until recently, believed to have also been a reproduction. In a 2018 exhibition at the Museum of Oudenaarde it was catalogued as the work of van Craesbeeck.
Brouwer did not make it easy for future art historians. He signed only around a quarter of his portraits and dated none of them. In the early years after his death his reputation suffered in part from the disastrous state of his finances in later life – he died destitute – as well as his love of drinking, smoking, fighting and frequenting the dingiest possible taverns.
On the other hand, he was beloved by artists. Seventeen of Brouwer’s works appear in Rubens’ estate inventory and Rembrandt owned six of his pictures and one of his sketchbooks. He was friendly with Frans Hals and Jan Lievens, with inspiration probably flowing between them.
By the time ‘Pride’ went under the hammer at Sotheby’s New York last January it was attributed to Brouwer. According to the auction catalogue, the dimensions of the picture – which correspond with that of ‘Lust’ – and the pentimenti both suggest that this is an original work, not a later copy. At Sotheby’s ‘Pride’ soared past its $20,000 high estimate, selling for $81,900 including fees (£66,340).
When it entered the collection of Galerie Lowet de Wotrenge, dealer Tyr Baudouin discovered that both ‘Pride’ and ‘Lust’ had belonged to Don Juan José de Austria, governor of the Southern Netherlands in the late 1650s, establishing that both works were from the same series and solidifying the Brouwer attribution.
It was acquired by the Mauritshuis for an undisclosed six-figure sum.
The gallery has also sold a terracotta by French sculptor Jean-Joseph Vinache (1696-1754) to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The figure of Apollo was bought by a private collector for a high five-figure sum and gifted.
Separately, Italian gallery Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art has concluded negotiations begun at TEFAF this year over a portrait of the painter Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808-80) by RJB. Hübner. It has gone to the Cincinnati Art Museum which holds more than 800 drawings by the artist, a collection that was one of the founding gifts to the institution in 1882.