Huybrecht Beuckelaer (Flemish, c. 1535/40-1605/1624) A fruit and vegetable, poultry and game seller with the Old Church of Delft beyond signed and dated lower left 'Huberius Beuckelaer 15(?8)5' oil on canvas 135 x 101cm (53 x 39in)
Provenance: According to the present vendor, acquired by a member of their family, circa 1960, at a local auction, probably Pascal and Cann of Colchester Born in Antwerp and trained alongside his brother Joachim in the workshop of their uncle, Pieter Aertsen, Huybrecht Beuckelaer drew upon Aertsen's style and subject matter. He went on to join the successful workshop of his brother, Joachim, who established his reputation as a painter of kitchen and genre scenes. Due to the scarce documentation of Huybrecht's career, his works were previously attributed to his brother Joachim or Aertsen. Previously known as the anonymous "Monogrammist HB", it was not until 1997 that Huybrecht was definitively established as the author of a small number of works signed "HB". His identity and work was discussed by Dr Margreet Wolters in 'De Monogrammist HB geïdentificeerd: Huybrecht Beuckeleer', in: P. van den Brink, L.M. Helmus (red.), Album Discipulorum J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer, Zwolle 1997, 231-238. His earliest known work, The First Passover Feast, dated 1563, was only identified and sold as recently as 26th of May 2005 (lot 61) at Sotheby's in New York. Huybrecht is believed to have trained in Bronzino's workshop in Florence and worked as an assistant in the studio of Antonis de Mor. For a full discussion of his life and his coming to live in London, see both Josua Bruyn, "Hubert (Huybrecht) Beuckelaer, an Antwerp portrait painter, and his English patron, the Earl of Leicester", Juliette Roding and Eric Jan Sluijter, Dutch and Flemish artists in Britain 1550-1750, Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 13, 2003, pp. 85-112; and Elizabeth Goldring, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and the World of Elizabethan Art: Painting and Patronage at the Court of Elizabeth I, Yale University Press, 2014, pp. 129-132, 163-164, 292. Unlike his better known brother, Huybrecht Beuckelaer is known to have travelled widely in France and probably was in Florence (see above). The last reference to him in Antwerp is in 1584 - an outstanding debt from his time in Bordeaux. It is likely that he had already left for England - though he may have come back briefly before he is definitely recorded in London in 1586 (see Bruyn, 2003, p. 92), where he probably (as a Protestant) went due to the political and religious turmoil in Antwerp at this precise time. He may well have been encouraged to go to London by the promise of - or hoped for - commissions from the Earl of Leicester (1532-1588). Leicester, who had been in the Spanish Netherlands accompanying Elizabeth I's failed suitor the Duke of Anjou when the latter was appointed Regent by Philip II, is known not only to have been painted along with his wife by Huybrecht Beuckelaer (see Bruyn, p. 91) but by 1583 market scenes with figures are recorded in the Inventory of Leicester House (see Goldring, p. 292). That the present painting is dated '15(?8)5' at the very moment that Huybrecht is probably already in London, means it has almost certainly remained ever since in this country, or, if it was painted in Antwerp on his brief return to that city, then he could well have brought it back with him to England. Huybrecht Beuckelaer is presumed to have remained and died in England, as the 'Daniell Buckler' recorded in the Parish of St Giles in the Fields, London, in 1625, is almost certainly his son by his first wife, born in Antwerp in the 1560s (see Goldring, p. 129). We are grateful to Dr Elizabeth Goldring for her assistance with this catalogue entry and to Dr Margreet Wolters for her thoughts on the form of the signature and the attribution to Huybrecht.
Oil on canvas which has an early lining but the original tacking edges appear to have been retained. The tacking margins are very slight and have come detached from the stretcher in some areas. This has contributed to the poor tension of the canvas which in turn is causing undulations to the painting, notably at the bottom edge where the painting sags and at the top left corner. At the lower left corner is a tear with associated paint loss. There is an old tear in the canvas and lining to the left of the man's head which has been repaired from the reverse and crudely retouched. The paint layer is raised along the lines of the age cracks in many areas and there are scattered areas of loss across the painting, notably in the lower left corner. In thinner paint passages there is wear and abrasion. There are areas of retouching on the painting which have darkened over time, for example on the lady's right arm and the gourd at the lower left. The varnish is old and no longer adequately saturating the varnish, combined with the uneven surface texture some areas of the composition are difficult to read. There are scuffs and scratches to the surface of the varnish and a layer of dust. The black painted finish to the frame has numerous small losses and scratches.