That Guy Stole My Look!
History has a funny way of repeating. On a sunny afternoon Mathew walked into the studio after lunch and exclaimed with much excitement: “This guy stole my look!”
I was very confused at the lack of context to his statement. He pulled up an image he found while looking at images online. It was a painting attributed to Sebastian Vrancx, a Flemish painter that is well known for his landscape and cavalry paintings. Of course after we saw the painting we had to do a side by side comparison.
Mathew had a lot of feelings about the comparison.
“I was so excited when I saw the image because, while I make every effort to use authentic proportions, fabrics and colors, I often worry that I’ve gotten it wrong. I worry a LOT about that actually, because I believe in creativity and prefer to make my own choices about fabrics and combinations.
Particularly, I find it unpleasant to slavishly follow examples in museums or directly copy from paintings. I follow my own beat, but always within the bounds what I understand to be true of the era. So, when something like this happens, where the cut, style, and color that I’ve chosen independently are echoed in a painting that I’ve never seen before, I feel like I’m thinking ‘correctly’ about the era. As though I’m “tuned in” to the mind of a person of the past. After studying their words, clothes, foods, and cultures for so long, its nice to have a little bit of validation I’ve assimilated enough to make the same choices without outside influence.”
However, things got a little complicated while we were researching Vrancx and the source of this image; or rather, images.
There are three versions of this painting found in the Fine Art World, and all of them are attributed to Sebastian Vrancx. It’s a hotly debated topic regarding the history of these paintings, since Vrancx did have two recorded pupils during his lifetime (Peter Snayers and Balthasar Courtois) and he also had a painting studio in Antwerp.
While we weren’t able to find a lot regarding Vranx’s work habits, we were able to track down the auction history on these paintings.
This version is titled “The Month of November” and was sold through Dorotheum in 2017 to a private collector.
This version is titled “The Cattle Market” and was sold in an auction in 2017 at Galerie Lowet de Wotrenge. It now belongs to the The Phoebus Foundation.
This version is titled "A Townscape with Figures on the Market Square” and was sold into a private collection in 2014 through Christies.
At the end of the day, while all three paintings are attributed to Sebastian Vrancx and have elements of his styles, we may never know the true history of these paintings, and that is something to consider when you are researching paintings online or in person. In the meantime, we’ll keep on making and keep on stitching.
Have you found yourself “twinning” by accident with someone in a painting? Tell us about it in the comments!