Flemish painting and De Jonckheere Gallery's old master paintings
Provenance: private collection.
It was considered good form for Northern painters at the end of the 16th century to depict Italian festivities and celebrations. At the time, Europe was...read more
Provenance: private collection.
It was considered good form for Northern painters at the end of the 16th century to depict Italian festivities and celebrations. At the time, Europe was completely focused on the peninsula. Fascinated by the splendour of these rejoicings, the nobility and bourgeoisie of Flanders fell in love with Comedia dell’Arte, masked balls and fêtes galantes (celebrations of love).
A creation of Louis de Caulery’s fantastic imagination, this painting is intended as an invitation to relax in the heart of an idyllic framework. Illuminated by late-afternoon sunshine, the gardens house a crowd of figures: some share a frugal meal on a tablecloth, while others dance and parade in full masquerade. The celebration to which the painter invites us is taking place in an idealised place, which is very similar to the gardens of the Villa Medici. Considering the artist’s iconography, there is no doubt that the sumptuous building overlooking the terraces is certainly the Villa Medici. In fact, our painting is very similar to the Vue de fantaisie des jardins de la Villa Médicis currently kept at the Louvre. This painting presents an idealistic view of the sumptuous Villa’s gardens, comparable in every way with our painting.
The Villa’s gardens, designed by Ferdinand de Medici, extended over nearly seven hectares. Dazzled by these immense grounds extending to the gates of the eternal city, Louis de Caulery drew inspiration for the decors of his scenes of love. Floral parterres, clumps of trees, arbours, fountains and statues are arranged to his fancy, in the image of a fantasy veduta. Just like in the view at the Louvre, Caulery offers his own interpretation of the Medici gardens and creates a new coherent and harmonious space, just like an architect.
In our panel, the artist has taken care to situate the villa above the terraces, thus allowing him to paint a perspective of the building and to reinvent the details and proportions. The terraces are subdivided into several gardens, dotted with small statues. To better illustrate his mastery of Italian-style perspective (a geometric perspective), the artist places his vanishing point at the end of the long covered garden, the viale lungo, that allowed Roman strollers to reach the Parnassus and shelter from the heat. Originally arranged as a frieze, the small figures painted in lively colours, form a cheerful subset in the foreground. Viewers can thus admire the details and beauty of the costumes worn by the participants in the parade.
With fantasy a dominant aspect in this painting, the Roman villa is transported to the banks of Venice’s lagoon. The Serenissima is outlined in the distance while gondolas sail by. And why not? Combining reality and fantasy, this painting alone symbolises all de Caulery’s passion for Italy. Proof of a high level of originality, the artist decides to distance himself from an Italian-style landscape made up of ruins, to convey the true wealth of Italy with just a few touches of paint: its gentle way of life.
Ca. 1575 – Antwerp – 1621
Probably originally from the village of Caulery near Cambrai, Louis de Caulery came to Antwerp in 1594 and trained with Joos de Momper. He was admitted as a master in this town in 1602.
It is still impossible to determine the exact date on which he went to Rome. His works bear witness to his stay in Venice, Florence and Rome.
Clearly associated with genre painting, this artist depicted a great variety of scenes, such as carnivals on ice, firework displays, bull fights, great collections, allegories of the five senses, and gatherings painted in the spirit of the Fontainebleau School.
The tall stature of the figures, their studied attitudes, their smooth faces, and their bare foreheads characterise his style. His colours are particularly refined. His palette, influenced by the Italian masters, was an innovation in Flanders, using halftones, yellow ochre, Veronese green and wine-coloured tints. His architectural representations show his attention to precision and his great skill in the Italian-style rendering of perspective.