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27. Abraham WILLEMSEN
Antwerp circa 1610 - 1672 Antwerp


Oil on Canvas :
49,5 x 65,5 cm, signed indistinctively with a monogram AB. W., datable circa 1640/45
Provenance :
Coll. Comte de Laffont, Paris / Coll. Thomas Grange, London / Coll. Dr. Grünewald, Munchen
Bibliography :
M. ROETHLISBERGER, Le peintre A.W.,in Jb. Antwerpen, 1988 / G. MARTIN, The Maître aux Béguins. A proposed identification, in Apollo, CIII, 348, 02/1991
  In 1627/28, Abraham Willemsen became a pupil of Willem Antonissens in Antwerp. He married Maria de Lang. He was elected dean of the Antwerp guild of St. Luke and was recorded in Paris circa 1645. The identification of this Master was possible thanks to a painting signed in full by the artist which depicts Minerva and the Muses (formerly in a Belgian private collection), who is a copy after a painting by H. van Balen. A group of pictures inspired by the Le Nain brothers and previously assigned to the ‘Maître des Béguins’ is now attributed to Willemsen following the discovery of another fully signed painting recently auctioned by Christie’s (19 April 1991 n°90). His name was recorded in the archives of the Antwerp merchant W. Forchondt in 1669 and he worked also for the art dealer Musson. The Monogrammist A. W was wrongly identified as Abraham Wilemsen. He is in fact Adriaen Willemhoudt. Two fully signed paintings recently discovered on copper are of the same hand of the Prado paintings and establish the fact that the Monogrammist A. W. is an artist working in the style of Frans Francken II for the Forchondt firm and is named Adriaen Willemhoudt and is not Abraham Willemsen. The strong caravagesque influence visible in the chiaroscuro and the vivid colours are reminiscent of the Roman period of Simon Vouet and Sebastian Bourdon. Jacques Foucart observed first that the old attribution to Bourdon was incorrect and proposed Willem van Herp or Abraham Willemsen. The cleaning of the painting revealed a perfectly preserved canvas and a monogram although difficult to read Ab. W on the blue stone on the left. The treatment of the figures is more realistic and more Italianate than the works of the Le Nain brothers.  

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