Jan Brueghel the Elder
THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST
Oil on copper. 32,8 x 48 cm.
This painting is one of the most significant in the cooperation between Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hans Rottenhammer. The artists became acquainted in Rome in 1594/1595, already creating works together at this early stage, among others for Cardinal Francesco Borromeo. Their cooperation continued beyond no longer living in the same town. Jan Brueghel sent his landscapes to Rottenhammer in Venice and later to Augsburg so that he would paint the figural staffage. Our painting is one of three versions of the "Baptism of Christ" recognised by Klaus Ertz as by his own hand and dated around 1608 (Klaus Ertz, op.cit.). The authors of the exhibition catalogue in the Weserrenaissance Museum, Lemgo, and Prague, not knowing our painting in original, were more reserved with their attribution. Neither did they know of a third version painted on wood (Klaus Ertz: Jan Brueghel the Elder, Lingen 2008-2010, vol. IV, p. 1670, cat. add. 30). The third version belongs to the Bavarian State Painting Collections and is today in the Staatsgalerie Augsburg.
Rottenhammer's central baptism scene is surrounded by figures that have settled on the banks of the Jordan river. In the sky appears a vision of paradise as a glaring aureole with God the Father surrounded by putti. Here, Rottenhammer used compositions by Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto that he had seen during his stay in Venice. The background is the sylvan landscape created by Jan Brueghel the Elder with precise brushstrokes.
Private collection, Belgium.
Exhibition catalogue: "Hans Rottenhammer. Begehrt - vergessen - neu entdeckt." Weserrenaissance-Museum Schloss Brake - Prague Nationalgalerie, 2008/2009, p. 125. - Klaus Ertz und Christa Nitze-Ertz: Jan Brueghel d. Ä. Kritischer Katalog der Gemälde, vol. II, Lingen 2008/2010, p. 561, cat. no. 260A.