Dulwich Picture Gallery II


Flemish School DPG14

DPG14 – A Village on Fire with People fleeing

17th century; oak panel, 23.4 x 34.9 cm

?Desenfans sale, Skinner and Dyke, 26 Feb. 1795 (Lugt 5281), lot 68b (Caree – ‘Village on Fire’); Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 15, no. 131 (‘Middle Room 2nd Floor / no. 9, Church & town on Fire – P[anel] Teniers’; 1'4" x 1'9").

Cat. 1817, p. 4, no. 36 (‘FIRST ROOM – West Side; A Village on Fire; D. Teniers’); Haydon 1817, p. 373, no. 36 (David Teniers); Cat. 1820, p. 4, no. 36; Cat. 1830, p. 5, no. 56 (Teniers); Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 56 (Unknown);1 Sparkes 1876, p. 170, no. 56 (ascribed to D. Teniers II); Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 159, no. 56 (‘D. Teniers I; Formerly ascribed to Teniers the Younger, but showing an earlier style’); Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 4, no. 14; Cook 1914, pp. 10–11, no. 14;2 Cook 1926, p. 10; Cat. 1953, p. 38; Murray 1980a, p. 57 (‘Flemish School (?)’);3 Murray 1980b, p. 13; Beresford 1998, p. 297 (Flemish School); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 322 (Flemish School); RKD, no. 282859: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/282859 (Dec. 3, 2019).

Hatchlands 1994, no. 14 (A. Sumner; ‘Painted in the manner of Teniers (cf. no. 341), to whom this was originally ascribed’).

1) Daniël van Heil, Burning of the Brussels Walls, with monogram D.V.H., canvas, 59 x 78 cm. Private collection [1].4
2) Frans de Momper, River Landscape with a Fire at Night, panel, 41.3 x 63.8 cm. National Museum, Stockholm, NM 6802 [2].5
3) Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Een Cleyn Brandeken (A Little Fire), panel, 16.5 cm (tondo). Private collection, Flanders [3].6

Marijke de Kinkelder (RKD) suggested to Richard Beresford that DPG14 was Dutch rather than Flemish,7 but in his 1998 catalogue he retained the attribution to the Flemish School made by all previous Dulwich authors. In the early days of the Dulwich Gallery the name of Teniers was mentioned, both David Teniers the Elder (1582–1649) and David Teniers the Younger (1610–90). Other possibilities are the Antwerp painters Daniël van Heil (1604–64/84?) and Frans de Momper (1603–60/61), both of whom depicted burning cities or villages, which are stylistically related to DPG14 (Related works, nos. 1 and 2) [1-2].

Many painters exploited the theme of a city on fire; it was a special genre in the Netherlands, often called Een Cleyn Brandeken (‘A Little Fire’),8 such as the one by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1638; Related works, no. 3) [3]. Both real and imaginary cities were depicted, including the burning of Rome by Nero and the burning of Troy (see under DPG513, British or Flemish School (Tobias Verhaecht (1561–1631)?), Related works, nos. 6 and 7). Burning cities in Antiquity were also painted by Antwerp artists including Engelbert Ergo (c. 1615–52/72) and Kerstiaen de Keuninck I (c. 1561–c. 1635); those artists also depicted recent burnings of cities during the Dutch Revolt.9

A ‘Village on Fire’ by the Dutch painter Michiel Carrée (1657–1727) was included in Desenfans’ 1795 sale, and it is not inconceivable that this may have been DPG14, though that does not bear the slightest resemblance to Carrée’s work. Intriguingly, in 1873 Desenfans’ nephew Colonel Morris sold a scene of a fire by Aert van der Neer (1603–77) which was said to have come from his uncle’s collection.10 Could DPG14 be a copy of that, perhaps even by Bourgeois?

Village on fire with people fleeing
panel (oak), oil paint 23,4 x 34,9 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG14

Daniël van Heil
Burning of the Brussels Walls
canvas, oil paint 59 x 79 cm
Private collection

Frans de Momper
River landscape with a fire at night
panel (oak), oil paint 41,3 x 63,8 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, inv./cat.nr. NM 6802

Pieter Brueghel (II)
Little Fire
panel, oil paint 16,5 x 16,5 cm
Private collection


1 1858: ‘A Village on Fire Unknown. […] It is perhaps better that the name of the painter of such a picture should remain unknown. And yet after all, it might have been painted as a rough sketch by David Teniers. S.P.D.’

2 ‘Formerly ascribed to Teniers the younger, but in 1880, as showing an earlier style, to the father.’

3 Murray refers to Whitley 1928b, pp. 277–8, for a story about Julius Caesar Ibbetson (1759–1817), who is known to have made forgeries after Teniers that fooled Desenfans.

4 RKD, no. 296259: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/296259 (Dec. 14, 2019); De Maere & Wabbes 1994, text vol., pp. 204–5, i, p. 602 (fig.).

5 RKD, no. 253069: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/253069 (Dec. 9, 2019); Cavalli-Björkman, ii, 2005, pp. 334–5 (C. Fryklund).

6 RKD, no. 296261: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/296261 (Dec. 14, 2019); De Bruyn & Op de Beeck 2003, pp. 162–7, no. 20.

7 Letter from Marijke de Kinkelder to Richard Beresford, 17 Nov. 1997 (DPG14 file). She suggested an anonymous follower of Aert van der Neer, since it could not be by any of his known followers (his son Jan, Anthonie van Borssom, Jan Meerhout and Gillis van Schyndel).

8 About the genre especially in Rotterdam see Verhoef 1994.

9 Eekhout 2014; Devisscher 1985.

10 Christie’s, 1 March 1873, lot 29: ‘A. van der Neer – A Conflagration: moonlight’. Bt Wigram, £25 4s.

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