Allegory of spring and summer, personified by Venus and Ceres
Circle of Hendrick Van Balen and Jan Brueghel the Younger
Antwerp School, early 17th century.
Our delicately painted work is part of both allegorical and mythological pictorial tradition in vogue in Antwerp, whose leaders are Jan Brueghel the Younger and Hendrick Van Balen. Many works coming out of their workshops illustrate the seasons, the elements, the senses or any creation of nature intertwining lush landscapes, exotic animals and the gods of Olympus.
Sitting in the heart of a green landscape, the beautiful Venus, dressed in a yellow tunic and a white blouse that reveals her chest, bracelets on her arms and a necklace around her neck, wearing a crown of flowers and a a tiara of precious stones. She holds a bouquet of flowers in her right hand, while she places her left hand on the shoulder of her child Cupid. The young god, standing, completely naked, also brings a few flowery sprigs with his left hand, while he holds his bow in his right hand. He carries his quiver full of arrows slung over his shoulder. At his feet a couple of young doves, a symbol of love.
Ceres on the right is dressed more modestly. She carries a cornucopia filled with fruit and wheat plants while she holds the sickle in her right hand.
She is wearing a crown of ears of wheat, her symbol of the goddess of the earth and harvests and therefore of "cereals".
At the feet of the young women, a monkey seated on the ground and holding a fruit.
In the foreground, a wicker basket filled with white and pink roses and a terracotta pot with a rosebush on an espalier. A few rosebuds are also scattered on the floor.
The background is made up of vegetation, on the right a wild rose bush with its branches erected against a tree trunk, in the center some trees with silvery green foliage, and on the right a luminous opening to the horizon.
The positions of these three mythological figures inclined towards each other, arms outstretched, evoke a symbolic exchange of offerings, Venus and Cupid offering the spring flowers to Ceres, and Ceres in return offering the sickle to mow the wheat.
The freshness of the colors and the finesse of the drawing thanks to the support (panel) allow a particularly detailed and realistic rendering.
The author of our painting, pupil or artist of the entourage of Van Balen and Brueghel, strives to multiply the many details, whether it be figures, costumes, flowers or vegetation, in order to demonstrate his knowledge. -do and the perfection of its execution.
Oil on oak panel,
Dimensions: h. 37 cm, w. 21cm
A 17th century carved giltwood frame
Framed dimensions: h. 50 cm, w. 33cm