A Last Judgement by Nicolas Pickenoy acquired by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Pau

15/10/08 — Acquisition — Pau, Musée des Beaux-Arts — The Museum in Pau has just acquired a painting by Nicolas Eliasz, called Pickenoy, representing The Last Judgement (ill. 1) from the Jacques Leegenhoek Gallery in Paris.
The son of a painter originally from Antwerp but who settled in Amsterdam, Nicolas Pickenoy was no doubt a student of Cornelis van der Voort. He produced a considerable number of portraits (the Rijksmuseum particularly holds about ten). The exhibition Dutch portraits. The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals recently displayed the beautiful Dr. Sebastiaen Egbertsz’ Osteology Lesson which held its own next to Rembrandt’s imposing Dr. Tulp’s Anatomy Lesson (see article in French).

1. Nicolas Eliasz, called Pickenoy (1588-1654/1656)
The Last Judgement (before restoration)
Oil on panel - 103 x 106 cm
Pau, Musée des Beaux-Arts

2. Nicolas Eliasz, called Pickenoy (1588-1654/1656)
The Last Judgement
Oil on panel - 158 x 254 cm
Cádiz, Museo de Bellas Artes

The only other historical paintings known by him are Paris and Oenone, monogrammed, which appeared on the art market (Colnaghi) in 1991 [1] and a Christ and the Adulterous Woman at the Archiepiscopal Museum in Utrecht [2]. Besides the panel acquired by Pau, Pickenoy treated the subject of the Last Judgement several times : a large format hangs in the Museum de Cadiz (ill. 2) and a reduced version of it, monogrammed, resurfaced on the art market in Germany in 1990 (ill. 3).

3. Nicolas Eliasz, called Pickenoy (1588-1654/1656)
The Last Judgement
Oil on panel - 90 x 90 cm
Present whereabouts unknown

3. Nicolas Eliasz, called Pickenoy (1588-1654/1656)
The Last Judgement
Oil on canvas - 103 x 102,5 cm
New York, Jack Kilgore & Co
Photo : Jack Kilgore & Co

The Pau painting is close in spirit to the other composition, but the figures are less Michelangelesque and arranged in a different manner.
The painting is interesting not just for its plastic qualities but also because of the different influences it reveals. Done in Amsterdam, which was Protestant, it clearly draws its inspiration from the Utrecht school in its Caravaggesque composition as illustrated by Honthorst (realism of the figures [3] and the play on light of the clair obscure) as well as by its Mannerist aspects as in Wtewael (crowding of all available space and the type of certain characters).

The work had appeared at the Hôtel Drouot auction house with no attribution in a sale, without catalogue, where it had provoked very active bidding. Once again, the Musée de Pau shows that medium-sized cities can implement smart acquisition policies in accordance with the needs for their particular collections despite the steady rise of prices on the art market and reduced budgets. Another version of this painting (a fourth Last Judgement then), on canvas, was sold as being by Circle of Louis Finson at Sotheby’s London on 26 April 2007 and was displayed at the Jack Kilgore stand at the last Maastricht Fair (ill. 4).

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 15 octobre 2008


[1] Oil on canvas ; 150 x 110 cm.

[2] Oil on panel ; 70 x 53 cm., a photo can be found in the Nicolas Eliasz Pickenoy box of the Service d’Etude et de Documentation of the Département des peintures at the Musée du Louvre.

[3] Guillaume Ambroise, the museum’s curator, points out “the stupefying foreshortening, at the same time incongruous, of the two dirty feet jutting out of the shadows on the bottom right, a veritable reference which Caravaggio himself would have acknowledged.”

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