Lot n° 9
600000 - 800000
Result with fees
: 780 000EUR
Pieters II BRUEGHEL (c.1564-1637/38).
Pierre BRUEGHEL II (Brussels, 1564 - Antwerp, 1636)
The payment of the tithe
112 x 184 cm
Provenance: kept in the same family since the 1900s.
Peter Brueghel II was the eldest son of Peter Brueghel the Elder and the brother of Jan Brueghel, known as de Velours. Orphaned at a young age, the children were taken in by their grandmother Mayken Verhulst, herself a painter of miniatures and widow of Pieter Coecke van Aelst. Later, the artist completed his training with the landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo. He was admitted to the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp and is mentioned as an independent master in the register for the years 1584-1585.
There are about thirty autograph versions, signed or not, of this famous composition by Peter
Brueghel II. The version we are presenting is unpublished. It is distinguished by its exceptional dimensions, the usual size of the subject
The usual size of the subject varies between 55 and 75 cm in height for a width of 100 to 120 cm. Only one other version
of similar dimensions, it is reported by Georges Marlier in the Surati collection in Milan before
1937, then in a Belgian private collection in 1984 (115 x 187 cm, p. 439, n°29).
Entitled The Payment of the Tithe, or sometimes The Peasants' Advocate, the subject of the painting is the subject of much
debates. Yet the main character, behind the desk, always represented with a prominent chin
wears an ecclesiastical cap which denounces him as a man of the Church. He certainly comes to collect the tithe, a tax that is used to build churches, to publish "the Scriptures and in a more general way to do
missionary work. This tax, instituted by the Carolingians, was paid by all the people but the poorest populations had difficulty paying it.
The poorest populations had difficulty in paying a tax that was considered too heavy and unfair.
The collector is assisted in his task by a man standing on his left and a clerk busy scribbling
behind a counter, on the other side of the room, is participating in the scene. To his right, another is consulting the calendar posted on the wall. We notice that the almanac is inscribed in French, which is logical since this language was
officially used in the legal profession and by the Spanish administration in Flanders at that time.
The other protagonists are peasants: there are four of them in the foreground, one of whom is waiting for the basket of eggs and presents that his wife is pulling from a
and presents that his wife is pulling from a sack. On the left, a man slips hesitantly through the half-open door that hides a shy man in terror. The disorder reigns in the room.
It is probably a criticism of the Spanish occupation that Brueghel is making; the tax collector,
with his prominent forehead and receding chin bears a clear resemblance to the Habsburgs (Philip II
in particular, who died in 1598) whose rule over Flanders extended from 1556 to 1713. The peasants, timid and
timid, undergo the dictate of the occupant and come, sheepishly, to pay the tax with their only wealth,
chickens, eggs, grapes.
Peter Brueghel II does not take over a composition of his father as he does most of the time; he represents
He represents a theme popular in his time and treated by other of his contemporaries. Some historians suggest that the painter was inspired by a prototype of the Parisian painter Nicolas Baullery, although no original
original of this type has so far supported this hypothesis.
The treatment of the subject underwent a slight evolution from 1618 onwards. The first versions, between 1615 and 1617,
are characterized by the braided ropes on the back wall and by the grey or light-sleeved figure
on the left. After this date, a dark cloth covers the back wall and the left-hand character's sleeves turn red.
Our painting therefore belongs to the first category, which allows us to place it before 1617.
A certificate from Dr. Klaus Ertz dated December 4, 2022 will be given to the buyer.
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