Jacob Savery the Elder - Orpheus Charming the Animals and Trees with his Song
Jacob Savery the Elder
Orpheus Charming the Animals and Trees with his Song
Oil on panel. 45 x 74 cm.
Jacob I. Savery was born in Kortrijk in 1566 as the second son of Maarten Savery. He trained as a painter in the studio of Hans Bol in Antwerp from 1580 to 1584 and later settled in Haarlem, where he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1587. He is also recorded in Amsterdam as of 1589, where he died of plaque in 1603. His younger brother Roelant later also went to Amsterdam to train under Jacob the Elder. The works of his older brother appear to have influenced Roelant Savery throughout his career, and we find many animal motifs developed by Jacob reiterated unchanged in his brother's œuvre (for this phenomenon, see Olga Kotková's publication: Roelandt Savery aan het keizerlijke hof in Prag. In: Exhib. Cat.: “Roelandt Savery 1576-1639“, Prague and Kortrijk 2010/2011, p. 39-50, here p. 46).
The present work is an impressive example of Jacob Savery the Elder's fanciful depictions of animals in landscapes. The piece is comparable to another work by this artist depicting the same theme kept in a private collection in Kortrijk (illus. in exhib. cat.: “Roelandt Savery 1576-1639”, op. cit., p. 47). Orpheus making music amid trees and animals was already a popular motif in Classical Antiquity (cf. Ovid, Met. X, 86-105; XI,1-2), and it experienced a revival in Flemish painting during the late 16th and 17th centuries. It provided artists with a welcome opportunity to exhibit their skill in depicting exotic animals.
Continental private collection. - Lempertz auction 987, Cologne, 19.11.2011, lot 1222. - Purchased in this sale by the present owner.