Jan Mijtens - The Crowning of Mirtillo

Jan Mijtens - The Crowning of Mirtillo - image-1
Jan Mijtens - The Crowning of Mirtillo - image-1

Jan Mijtens

The Crowning of Mirtillo

Oil on canvas (relined). 155 x 170 cm.

This piece by Jan Mijtens is one of his largest known works, and one of the rarest motifs by this artist. It reflects the spirit of a movement which began in Italy in the late 16th century but had its roots in the poetry of antiquity. Authors such as Horace and Vergil were the first to introduce bucolic motifs into literature. The pastoral genre is an idealisation of nature and life in the countryside as a source of happiness, peace, and harmony in the mythical Arcadia. The most important expression of this genre in the 16th century was the villa architecture of the Veneto and its decorative fresco cycles, but there were also numerous other works of literature and the pictorial arts.
Giovanni Battista Guarini's play “Il Pastor Fido” was first performed in Venice in 1590 but it was subsequently published in numerous later editions and even translated into Dutch. Before Mijten's version, the story of Amarillys and Mirtillo had already been depicted in large format compositions by artists such as Anthony van Dyck, Abraham Bloemaert and Ferdinand Bol. They usually chose the scene of the crowning of Mirtillo dressed as a woman. He was the winner of a kissing game which began the love story between Amaryllis and Mirtillo which the work describes.

A. N. Bauer (op. cit) dates the present work to the 1660s. It was created at the zenith of Mijtens' artistic career at a time when he was one of the most sought-after and productive artists in The Hague. Mijtens only painted three pastorals. In terms of composition, they are all closely related to his family portraits, in which - like the present work - he also places his groups of figures on either side of a central pathway through the landscape that leads the viewer's gaze into the distance.


The Dingley collection (?). - Goldschmidt gallery. - Dr. Wallenstein, Berlin (1931). - Collection of H. Behner, Berlin 1943. - Sotheby's London, 04.04.1984, lot 176. - Belgian private collection.


McNeill Kettering, The Dutch Arcadia: Pastoral Art and its Audience in the Golden Age, 1983, p. 116, 165, note 34 and 194, illus. 176. - A. Peter, Überlegungen zur holländischen Bildnis- und Genremalerei am Ende ihres Goldenen Zeitalters, Dissertation Justus-Liebig Universität, Gießen. - A. N. Bauer, Jan Mijtens (1613/14 . 1670. Leben und Werk, 2006. p. 81/82, 279/280 and 430, no. A156, illus. 156, pl. XXXV.


Utrecht 1993, p. 233/234, p. 310, illus. 44.2.

Lot 2074 Dα

80.000 € - 90.000 €

87.500 €