Adriaen van Overbeke (Flemish, act.1508‑1529) Studio of
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
oil on panel
panel dimensions 26.77 x 19 inches (68 x 48.5 cm)
frame 31.10 x 24 inches (79 x 61 cm)
With De Jonckheere Gallery, Paris, no. 235;
Uppsala Auktionskammare, International sale, June 2011,
lot 1220, Final price 34.000€;
From an important private collection in Stockholm until December 2022
when we acquired it.
The attribution has been kindly suggested by Peter van den Brink on the basis of a photograph. (Former Director of the Aachen City Museums, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, Germany, Read more)
Peter van den Brink pointed out that the composition is based on an engraving by Durer. A similar use of Durer engravings in the work of Overbeke and his studio are the compositions in the two wings of a now dismantled altarpiece of Christ taken into prison and the preparation for the Crucifixion, in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, inv.no. Pe 154 and Pe 155 (see P. van den Brink, et.al., Extravagant!, exhibition catalogue, Antwerp, Maastricht, 2005/6, p. 180/1, cat.no. 75, with ill.), which otherwise show the same fancily dressed figure in striped pants as is the executioner in the present panel.
The Artist and his Studio
Adriaen van Overbeke (formerly known as the Master of the Antwerp Crucifixion) counts today as among the most successful artist and workshop of painters active in Antwerp in the early 16th century.
Van Overbeke is catalogued as a so-called Flemish Renaissance painter in the style of Antwerp Mannerism. Although his style is still typically Late Gothic, holding very few Renaissance elements.
Very little is known with certainty about Adriaen van Overbeke's origin; he was active around 1508-1529 and first mentioned In 1508 as a ‘vrijmeester’ in the records of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, in the same records, a few years earlier in 1495, the name Ariaen was mentioned as a pupil of Quentin Matsys what made some art historian believe to be Adriaen van Overbeke.
Van Overbeke was the head of a large workshop, which employed many assistants. He further developed collaborations with other Antwerp workshops, including painters and sculptors. Therefore, he appeared in contemporary contracts both as a principal and a subcontractor. With the increasing success of his business, he gradually participated less in the execution of works, and he became an entrepreneur who relied on workshop assistants and other workshops to create the artworks.
While his most prestigious commissions were those for the altar of Saint Anne for the Propsteikirche in Kempen in the Rhineland in 1513, and Between 1515 and 1520, van Overbeke and his workshop painted the six outer panels of the Retable of St Mary, which are today in Sweden, in the Cathedral of Västerås.