Acquisition of a Jan Lievens Painting by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm

Jan Lievens (1607-1674)
Saint Paul, 1627-1629
Oil on Canvas - 118.8 x 108 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Stockholm Nationalmuseum

6/9/12 - Acquisition - Stockholm, Nationalmuseum - The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm recently acquired a painting by Jan Lievens, Saint Paul (ill.), dating from 1627-1629, the period when the artist worked in Leiden alongside Rembrandt. The painting in fact reveals a strong influence by the master as the Lievens presents the bust of the apostle in profile, sitting before an open book, absorbed in his thoughts, with the writing hand apparently suspended in a moment of reflexion. A chiaroscuro effect adds life to the ensemble : a light from the right illuminates one side of the apostle’s wrinkled face while in the dark background we glimpse Saint Paul’s attribute, a sword. This work can be associated with the series of four Evangelists which Lievens painted at the same time, notably Saint Luke (Bamberg, Historisches Museum). There is also another known version of the apostle painted by the artist around 1624-1625 (Kingston, Agnes Etherington Art Center), in which he devotes a part of the composition to books, a veritable still life in the foreground, and presents the saint full face, with his head down. The National Gallery in Washington holds a composition by Rembrandt similar to this one although later in date, and also more detailed.

The work was part of the collection belonging to Gustaf Adolf Sparre (1746-1794) ; this wealthy Swedish art lover went on the Grand Tour in the late 1760’s during which he assembled a great number of paintings, notably a beautiful group of 17th century Flemish and Dutch works. First held in the Sahlgren-Sparre Palace in Gothenburg, the collection was moved to the Wanas Castle in southern Sweden in the 19th century. About forty of the works from this collection were auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2007.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, vendredi 14 septembre 2012

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