10th Tiberius Auction
Netherlands 1625 – 1680 Amsterdam, attributed
Allegory of Love or Antony and Cleopatra
Oil on canvas, relined
33 x 21 cm, with frame 48.5 x 37 cm
Expert opinion by Dr. Walther Bernt, Munich 1977
As a painter and engraver of the Dutch Golden Age, Hendrick Danckerts was particularly known for his architecture in landscapes. His oeuvre is strongly influenced by his stay in Italy for several years, and this is reflected in the Italian landscapes and residences he depicted. He spent most of his career in London, England.
Particularly impressive are the tall buildings with sculptural decoration, such as here the tall porphyry columns of the entrance to an antique-style building on the left or the grey columns of the colonnades with a crowning balustrade in the background. The tall trees with dense canopies are also typical, with a slender young tree often framing the action and at the same time introducing the viewer to the composition. Their gaze is thus drawn to the small-format figure composition with robes in luminous colouring.
Depicted is a couple, a man in antique military dress and a woman in a loose long robe. Behind them, in the penumbra, a child or servant is shown. In the background, other female figures and warriors are depicted between the porphyry columns. This group of figures could be Mars and Venus; however, it is more likely that Venus, the goddess of love, is shown above the balcony on a cloud structure. Depicted as a nude, she is reclining on the clouds and looking down at Cupid, the winged putto, who is currently aiming a bow and arrow at the couple. Therefore, the two figures must be lovers. This is also emphasised by the dog running down the stairs in front of them, a typical symbol of fidelity. It could be the allegory of love; however, an identification with a pair of lovers with a tragic fate also seems conclusive, namely the depiction of the Roman general Marcus Antonius and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, particularly inspired by the Roman drama “Antonius and Cleopatra” completed by William Shakespeare around 1606/07. The romanticising landscape with the ominous cloud formations could indicate this as well.
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