Follower of Sir Anthony Van Dyke (1599-1641): European School Oval Oil on Panel of Christ on the Cross

Origin: European School
Period: Late Eighteenth / Early Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Ex Christies London, 21st December 1928
Date: c.1770-1810
Height: 12 inches
Width: 10 inches

The dramatically depicted oil on an oval oak panel showing the crucifixion of Christ, the figure rendered realistically swaddled in cloth, his muscles straining, with the acronym INRI above, the whole on an ebony ground and of Spanish or Italian origin surviving from the late eighteenth to early period of the nineteenth century and last sold at Christies Auction House in London in 1928.

The condition of the painting is unrestored, uncleaned and unframed and is in as found order. There small areas of loss with flaking to the top surface. The painting is decorative as is but could be extensively cleaned, restored and framed is so desired.

The picture is stencilled verso ‘338 EV’. This is a Christie’s Auction House stencil. Spotting a Christie’s stencil is a good indication of a work’s potential importance, and the alphanumeric cipher of the type shown here has been in use almost since Christie’s founding in 1766, originally applied to the backs of pictures with a brush, before stencilled stock numbers were introduced. Every Christie’s stock number matches a unique record in the Christie’s Archive, a legendary repository of detailed information on provenance and prices for every picture sold in the company’s almost two-and-a-half centuries.

In this case, the stencil shows us that the piece was sold on the 21st December 1928:

Lot: 10 VANDYCK CHRIST ON THE CROSS, on panel - oval - unframed, THE INFANT SAINT JOHN ; and A SEAPORT, with boats & numerous figures - on panel (three)3
Sold for: £54.12.0 [52gns]
Buyer: Hasson
Vendor: E. D. James  

This amount is approximately £2,900.00 in todays currency. Christies, at the time, cataloged items differently to what they do today:  "When only the surname of the artist is found this usually means that in our opinion at the time of cataloguing that it is a work of the school or by one of the followers of the artist or in his style, for instance 'Gainsborough'."  Therefore in 1928, Christies believed this picture was the school of or by a follower of Van Dyke.   

Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. After Rubens,  hethe most prominent Flemish painter of the 17th century. Van Dyck was a prolific painter of portraits of European aristocracy, he also executed many works on religious and mythological subjects and was a fine draftsman and etcher. Appointed court painter by Charles I of England in 1632, he was knighted the same year.The image of the crucifixion represents the death and resurrection of Jesus and serves as a reminder of our own sins and our need for redemption. The acronym INRI (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum) that we see above the figure represents the Latin inscription which in English reads as "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews".

Attractive for its simplicity and bold in its depiction, this is an interior enhancing religious piece of work of good provenance and its shape only heightens its decorative qualities.