One of the highlights of the works being exhibited by Bernheimer-Colnaghi
on their Stand No. 306 at TEFAF, 12 to 21 March 2010, will be the collaborative painting by Joos de Momper the Younger (1564-1635) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625), entitled Spring: a landscape with elegant company on a tree-lined road, with an asking price of around 3 million.
These two major artists worked together on more than eighty paintings over a period of almost thirty years, a collaboration unique to 17th century Flemish art which continues to fascinate both collectors and art historians. This work, dated to 1618-19, displays the skilful integration of the figures and the landscape typical of Brueghels and de Mompers partnership. The fineness and specificity of Brueghels technique focuses the eye while de Mompers broad painting style, with sweeping bands of blues and greens and unblended touches of the end of the brush, lends itself to panoramic views. Unlike Brueghel, who also produced history and flower paintings, de Momper specialised exclusively in decorative landscape views.
With two artists working on the same canvas, it is intriguing to speculate as to who was in charge of the collaboration. Did de Momper employ Brueghel to paint figures into his landscapes or did Brueghel commission landscape scenes from de Momper to provide settings for his figure groups? De Momper collaborated with up to fourteen different artists during his career, including Hendrick van Balen, Tobias Verhaecht, Ambrosius Francken, Sebastiaen Vrancx, and Jacob Jordaens. In addition to de Momper, Brueghel also collaborated with Hendrick van Balen and Rubens.
Although nothing is known about the paintings early provenance, it is possible that it was originally one of a series of scenes, perhaps a cycle of the seasons. Its size suggests a commission and a patron with a space large enough to accommodate it. If it were part of a series, it would have been the central scene, as the image revolves around strong verticals in the centre of the composition, in marked contrast to comparable landscapes by de Momper.