Cercle of Ambrosius Francken, Adoration of the shepherds, 17th century Antwerp school

24000 €
Period : 17th century
Origin : oil on oak panel
Materials : Antwerp, Flanders
Signature : Cercle of Ambrosius Francken
Dimensions : H. 39.37 inch, w. 32.68 inch
Read more

Adoration des Bergers,
Cercle of Ambrosius Francken (1544/1545-Anvers, 1618)
17th c. Antwerp school

Oil on oak panel: h. 55 cm, w. 43 cm
17th c. ebonized and moulded frame
Framed : h. 100 cm, w. 83 cm

Provenance: collection of Barons of Schrenck-Notzing, Munich, Bavaria, then by descent

Relating an episode in the life of Christ, our painting superimposes the Adoration of the Shepherds with the Announcement to the Shepherds in the background and illustrates a group of characters gathered in the stable around the child Jesus.
The vertical format compresses the composition by bringing the characters together and pushing them partially out of the frame. Some whose faces or even parts of faces are barely visible accentuate the density of the group. The painter places in the center the improvised cradle of the child Jesus whose white fabrics are transformed into a large point of light and draws the eye towards the center. The figures are placed on several registers: in the foreground more monumental figures with muscular and powerful bodies then smaller characters in the second and third planes. Joseph makes a separate figure with the movement of his body obliquely, he spreads himself on the donkey, pushed and embarrassed by the crowd, almost a stranger to the scene. The strongly accentuated gesture creates movement and dynamism: between the outstretched arms with open hands, the hands joined in prayer, the hands pointing the index finger towards the sky. The tumult of the scene is thus transmitted through this body language.
The palette of bright and tangy colors enchants with its pink and purplish shades, bottle greens, powerful reds, yellow ochres, oranges with golden reflections. The painter sculpts draperies of his overdressed figures with glistening crests and vibrant material from the fabrics. The sunburned male faces are executed in brown-toned ochres and appear backlit with very little lighting and in the shadows of hats. They contrast with the whiteness of Marie's skin tones.
Her illuminated face with half-closed eyes is dominated by her straight nose with a prominent tip. This feature of physiognomy appears frequently in the female faces of Ambrosius Francken (the Virgin in "The Three Marys",
Bar-sur-Seine, Saint-Etienne church; a woman in “Let the little children come to me”, private collection; a woman in “The Lamentation of Christ” at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp)
We find her characteristic hairline is also identical to that found in the works of Ambrosius Francken.

We frequently observe in Ambrosius Francken paintings robust and muscular male and female figures in the foreground seen from behind. This inclination for antique and Italian Renaissance models was certainly transmitted by Frans Floris. These spinal twists visible or suggested by tight-fitting fabrics are naturally associated with ancient heroes.
It is thus appropriate to compare the woman seen from the back of our painting with the figures in the works of Ambrosius Francken (a woman in The Judgment of Zaleucus at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the executioner in Decapitation of Saint George, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp).

If the composition and stylistic points of convergence point strongly to the works of Ambrosius Francken ("Let the little children come to me"
Private collection, "Les Trois Maries" in Bar-sur-Seine, Saint-Etienne church), our artist's brush seems more vibrant and nervous. Instead of smoothing the material, the painter superimposes very light and rapid brushstrokes without repentance to create texture and depth in the composition. His quick, but delicate and graceful strokes testify to great skill and perfect mastery of drawing, but also of light effects, virtuosity in the rendering of reflections.
Considering the number of painters in the Francken family, it seems judicious to attribute our painting to the direct entourage of Ambrosius Francken and probably to an artist from his family workshop or even a member of his family.


If you would like to receive our newsletter, please enter your email address below

The field is empty Please enter a valid address

By completing this form, you agree to receive personalized communications from Galerie Nicolas Lenté.
If you wish to unsubscribe or know the treatment of your data, please consult our privacy policy

Galerie Nicolas Lenté
2, rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 PARIS
Tel: +33 (0)6 64 42 84 66