Completed Continental European before 1800 39 Is the subject of this panel painting Christ in Majesty? Could anyone suggest an artist or school?

The Ascension
Topic: Subject or sitter

It seems unlikely the subject here is the Ascension as Christ would not be seated and it would normally include astonished apostles at the base of the mound. The fact that he is being adored by saints and biblical precursors, such as King David with his lyre bottom right, would suggest this is a representation of Christ in Majesty, as in the linked print after Raphael. The work looks late 16th-century Flemish.,0915.113&page=1

Completed, Outcome

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Robert Schillemans,

The subject is 'Christ with the repentant sinners' (Mary Magdalene, kind David, the Prodigal son etc.)

Al Brown,

That does seem to be the subject and there are other works showing the same subject - including a Gerard Seghers in the Rijksmuseum. Are all the participants identifiable then?

Jochen Suy,

Excellent reading of the subject. The figure with the cross to the left would be Dismas, the 'good thief', the upper right one could be Saint Peter.

Christopher Foley,

The pose of Christ is reminiscent of the engraving by Hieronymous Wierix (1553-1619) of Christ as the Fons Vitae

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Jacinto Regalado,

I don't think this picture is Mannerist enough to be late 16th century; it is a little too robust for that.

Jacinto Regalado,

The king at left could be Solomon, and the man with a turban behind him could be Zacchaeus the tax collector, who is typically depicted with such headdress. I agree the man at upper right is most likely St Peter, and the man between him and King David may well be St Paul.

Jacinto Regalado,

The man to the right of Dismas, who is carrying what may be some sort of bedding on his back, could be the man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda, and who was later told by Jesus to stop sinning.

Jochen Suy,

The man below Saint Peter appears to be holding a sword, so it might very well be Saint Paul. This isn't much clearer in the 'circle of Cornelis de Vos' painting. What is clear though, is that this work is somewhat broader to the left, so was the work we are discussing here cropped?

It also shows a bit more of the figure to the left between (quite possibly) Solomon and Zaccheus which might help identify him, but I can't make it out. Can anyone else?

Behind him, there appears to be another person carrying a mat or bed, am I reading this right? In the painting above, we can just see a hand. The two of them could be the sinner Christ healed at the pool of Bethesda and the other the paralytic healed at Capernaum, both of whom were instructed to 'take up their bed and walk'.

Jacinto Regalado,

I think this work has been cropped, and it may also be unfinished, based on the very sketchy nature of the cherubs. The man to the right of Dismas could be the paralytic healed at Capernaum, since the one healed at Bethesda was probably an older man based on the Biblical account.

Jacinto Regalado,

The man in the white turban could be Zacchaeus or the unnamed tax collector in Luke 18: 9-14. I suppose the man with the black beard at mid left might be St Matthew, who had also been a tax collector.

Al Brown,

The subject of this work seems to have been identified fairly conclusively.

Is it possible to identify any further suggestions as to an artist? Given its Rubensian elements, I think Jacinto is correct in her view this is a 17thc rather than late 16thc work.

Jacinto Regalado,

Al, no offense taken, but Jacinto, like other Spanish names ending in "o" as opposed to "a," is a male name (though sufficiently uncommon, not to say hopelessly old-fashioned, to be confusing).

Al Brown,

Apologies, I should have realised.

Jacinto has remarked on the cropping of the image in our painting from the version attributed to circle of Cornelis de Vos. Even more significant to me is that the groups of figures to left and right are broadly similar and so probably both based on some other prime version, but the central figure of Christ, his crucifix and the cherubs are quite different.

Am I imagining a vertical line through Christ's head and passing down just to the right of the knee of the kneeling man in left foreground? This may suggest ours was a larger painting, closer to the 'de Vos' and one that has been cut down or damaged in the middle and repainted with a different central composition.

Jacinto Regalado,

There is more than one "line" running through the torso of the Christ figure, but I think they are stains or discoloration, not tears. The picture clearly needs cleaning, and I would say deserves it, being considerably finer than the great majority of the Flemish pictures in the same collection.

Martin Hopkinson,

Possibly marks of old splits in the wooden panel on which it is painted? Has the type of wood been identified?

Martin Hopkinson,

A scour through F W H Hollstein's , Dutch and Flemish etchings engravings and woodcuts ... should uncover an engraving of this composition and the author of the first version of it and as to how much if any of it is not recorded in this painting

It is agreed that the subject is 'Christ with the Repentant Sinners'. There is clearly a connection with the depiction of the subject attributed to Cornelis de Vos, although the central portion of ghe composition, dividing vertically, has been redesigned for whatever reason. I think the best we can say is 'style or manner of Flemish School of first half of 17th century'.

Jacinto Regalado,

I tend to agree, Andrew, though I would simply attribute it to Flemish School (first half of 17th century). I suppose one could add that a similar but not identical picture has been attributed to C. de Vos.

Jacinto Regalado,

I meant attributed to circle of Cornelis de Vos.

Martin Hopkinson,

Coberger is better known as an architect and an engineer, but a 2012 article by Stefano De Mieri in Prospettiva, 146, April 2012 , pp, 68=87 should be consulted for his painting in Rome and Naples

Ulrich Heinen,

For the tradition of the theme (Risen Christ with repentant sinners) in the Habsburg Netherlands: Frans Floris (a little earlier and with less persons):
Michele Danili's idea (an early Cobergher) is not bad. See for example the paintings from his Italian time:
Stefano De Mieri: Wenzel Cobergher tra Napoli e Roma, in: Prospettiva 146, 2012, S. 68-87, for example fig. 1: Wenzel Cobergher (?): St. Gregory, 1580-82 circa, Naples, San Gregorio Armeno.
Or his work for Nancy about 1600 etc.

Andrew, thank you for recommending the update to the title and attribution. I have written to Stefano De Mieri, following the suggestion of Wenzel Cobergher.

I would like to thank Stefano De Mieri for his comments:

'I'm sure, the painting can certainly be attributed to Wenzel Cobergher. It is possible that it was painted in the early Neapolitan period (1580-90). In this painting I identify many similarities with Cobergher's works in the church of San Gregorio Armeno (ceiling: San Gregorio vescovo d'Armenia benedice Tiridate, la moglie di lui e la corte reale) and Santa Maria di Piedigrotta (from the chapel of the biscop of Ariano: especially the Crucifixion). Thanks for asking my opinion.'

Jacinto Regalado,

Cobergher trained under Maerten de Vos, but Cornelis de Vos was a much younger painter (b. 1584). It is, of course, possible that the attribution of the related picture to circle of Cornelis de Vos was simply inaccurate.

I would like to thank Catherine Maxwell Stuart for responding with further information and a photograph of an inscription (attached):

'Many thanks for your email and alerting me to the very interesting discussion about our painting.

Although I have been unable to find any provenance for the painting it does have a clear inscription at the bottom – JUAN SNELLINCK F51

I enclose a pic showing bottom left corner where it is inscribed. If this is correct it is a much earlier painting than I had thought. (Snellinck 1548–1638)

It hangs in the family Chapel at Traquair which was created in 1829 following the Catholic Emancipation Act. The family were recusant Catholics and collected books and works of art in Europe in the early 18th century so it may have come from this time but unless we find something in our archives I could not verify this.

I would agree it looks like Christ and penitent sinners though.

Interestingly, it was not identified within our Sotheby’s inventory so it has not been viewed by an expert or valued in recent years.

I hope this information may provoke more discussion!'

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According to the RKD,a reliable source, there are three Jan Snellincks, ralatively little known artists. This looks most likely to refer to Jan Snellinck I (1544 or c.1547-8 - 1638) of Jan II (1579, d. between 1629 and '38).

Jan II seems to have often signed 'J Van Snellinck', so presumably this is the correct reading of this inscription. The 'F' may be a 'P' for 'pinxit', and the following two digits may be a date, presumably not '51' however, as this fits none of their dates. If it could be '31' then 1631 is plausible. Perhaps it could be photographed again in better light and focus.

Stylistically it does not seem to me obviously similar to other religious subjects by Jan Snellinck I or II, but there are very few comparable examples. Compare however the kneeling figures with those in the 'Crucifixion' in Christies old master day sale 5 Dec 2012 lot 111

Jacinto Regalado,

If the date is 1631, that fits stylistically with an early Baroque as opposed to Mannerist work, which is how this picture strikes me.

Marcie Doran,

Similar ‘unfinished’ cherubs to the ones in this work by Juan Snellinck are in ‘Christ Triumphant’, 1590, by Maerten de Vos (1502-1603) at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. I have attached a composite that shows two of the most similar cherubs.

There is a passage about “Jan Snellinck (c. 1549-1638)” deriving figures from De Vos’s ‘Christ Triumphant’ in the book “Flemish Art and Architecture, 1585-1700” by Hans Vlieghe, here:

A comparable signature of Jan Snellinck II can be found at on a 'Christ on the Mount of Olives'. There seems little doubt that the Traquair painting was made by Snellinck II, but there may remain a doubt as to whether the composition is his - was it based on one by Cornelis de Vos or another contemporary of his?