Jacobus Balthasar Peeters
c. 1650 Flanders - c. 1730
Two Interiors of the Jesuit Church in Antwerp
Oil on canvas (relined). Each 85 x 120 cm.
One signed lower right: CORPUS GEREALIS MAX. Iacob. Bal. Peeters. - The other signed lower left: DOMINUS VOBISCUM 1721..
Private collection, Spain.
For this artist cf.: B. G. Maillet: Intérieurs d´églises 1580-1720. La peinture architecturale des Écoles du Nord, 2012.
This exceptional pair of works by Jacobus Balthasar Peeters depict the interior of the Jesuit Church of Carl Borromeus in Antwerp in a state in which it no longer existed at the time the works were painted. The interior of the church, along with the ceiling murals by Peter Paul Rubens depicted in these paintings, was destroyed by fire on 18th July 1718. Peeters was able to refer to works which he painted before the fire for these images of the emblematic and then world-famous interior of the church. He painted a similar, slightly smaller pair of works, a dated view of the organ and a signed view of the main altar in 1714. These earlier works are currently housed in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and measure 72 x 91 cm.
Rubens painted two panels for the main altar of the Jesuit church, which were displayed alternately: The “Miracle of St. Francis Xavier” and the “Miracle of St. Ignatius“, which is shown in this work. Both altarpieces survived the fire and have been kept in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna since 1776. Church interiors were a popular motif in the Netherlands throughout the 17th century, and the subject probably had its origin in the wars of confession. Numerous painters specialised in the subject in both Catholic Flanders and Protestant Holland. In the former region, and especially in Antwerp, images of modern, post-tridentine and high baroque décor were common, whereas in Holland it was the “purification” of the ecclesiastical interiors which formed the central theme of the works.
In comparison to the earlier church interiors of Emmanuel de Witte, Hans Vredeman de Vries, Pieter Neefs, Hendrick van Steenwijck and Bartholomäus van Bassen, Peeters' works already evoke the spirit of the 18th century, not only through the addition of delicate figures but also in the attention to detail despite the monumentality of the scene. Both works bear an unidentified collection number to the right and are in very fine, but uncleaned, condition.