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Title Interior of a Church, by Night
Alternative Title Interior of Churches with Figures; Interior of a Cathedral
Collection National Trust for Scotland (Brodick Castle)
Artist Attributed to Neeffs, Peeter, the younger (Flemish painter, 1620-1675) and studio
Previously attributed to Neeffs, Peeter, the elder (Flemish painter, born ca.1578, died 1656-1661)
Date Earliest possibly about 1637
Date Latest possibly about 1649
Description An interior of a Gothic church at night. A priest is holding a service in a chapel to the left of the aisle, at an altar which is set against the backdrop of a painting, possibly showing the Assumption of the Virgin, framed in black and red marble. The dramatic lighting is created by two candles on the altar, which illuminate the chapel's architecture, creating a pocket of light within the shadowy interior. The pair to this painting, also in the Brodick collection, appears to show the same church interior, seen from a slightly different angle, in daylight. The companion painting has, in the past, been described as showing the church of St Bavo in Haarlem; however, this identification has not been satisfactorily confirmed.
Current Accession Number Pending
Subject religion; interior; buildings and gardens
Measurements 9.8 x 14.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on metal (copper)
Acquisition Details Accepted by Her Majesty's Treasury on death of Mary Louise Hamilton, Duchess of Montrose, in 1957, in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated by her express wish to The National Trust for Scotland, as part of the Brodick Castle estate.
Provenance William Beckford (1760-1844); by descent to Susan Euphemia Beckford, Duchess of Hamilton; by descent to William, 12th Duke of Hamilton (d. 1895); passed under the terms of a Trust Disposition and Settlement of 1893 to only child Mary Louise Hamilton, later Duchess of Montrose.
Publications Martin, Gregory, National Gallery Catalogues: The Flemish School 1600-1900, London, 1970, pp. 98-103.
Notes

Inscriptions: 1) brush, back: 'No 135'; 2) pencil, back: '119'; 3) scratched, pencil, frame: '22' (encircled); 4) pencil, frame, a series of numbers, arranged in columns: '24'; '16 / 26'; '17'.

Labels: 1) paper, inscribed in brown ink, frame: 'Peter Neefs'; 2) paper, printed, frame: '49'.

Inventories:
Inventory and Valuation of Nos 10 and 20 Lansdown Cresecent Bath, The Tower, on Landsdown and Farm and Premises all adjoining the property of the late William Thomas Beckford Esqr., Sept 13th 1844, Edmund English & Sons, Bath, and Robert Hume, London, Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. Beckford c. 58, p. 16. One of the two paintings recorded in the 'Duchess's Drawing Room', Lansdown Crescent as 'A Pair - Interior of Churches with figures' by 'P. Neefs'.
List of Pictures, Furniture, Ornaments, China & c. sent from Bath to Easton Park, 1848-1849, NRAS 332/M/12/50, p. 1. Recorded as 'A Pair of Interiors / Peter Neefs.'
Easton Park, Suffolk. A True and Perfect Inventory and Appraisement of All and singular the Household Furniture, Plate, Linen, China, Books, Prints, Pictures, Jewels, Trinkets, Wine and other the Personal Effects of The Most Noble His Grace The Duke of Hamilton K.G. (at the Mansion at Easton Park in the County of Suffolk in the Diocese of Norwich) who died on the 18th day of August 1852. Taken and made on the 13th and following days of September then next ensuring By Robert Cana and William Cana, Appraisers, NRAS 332/M/12/52, vol. 2, p. 17. Recorded in the Drawing Room as 'Pair - Interior of a Cathedral / P Neefs.'
Valuation for Probate of the Contents of Brodick Castle [...] the property of the Arran and Easton Trustees (in the sense of the Hamilton Estates Act, 1918) and of her late Grace Mary Louise, Duchess of Montrose [...], 1957, Christie, Manson and Woods Ltd., Brodick Castle, p. 23. Recorded in the Drawing Room as 'Pieter Neeffs / Interiors of Churches with figures / on panel (two)'.
List of Pictures Photographed at Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran, Property of the late Duchess of Montrose, Private Collection Survey, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 1958. Ref. B/4995. Recorded as 'Pieter Neefs / Church Interior.'

This painting and its pair was acquired by The National Trust for Scotland with an attribution simply to 'Pieter Neeffs', without distinction between father and son. An attribution to Peeter Neeffs the younger has been applied in more recent times by Christie's, London. Peeter Neeffs the younger was collaborating with his father by 1640 and was still active in 1675. Martin (1970), writes, 'various attempts have been made to distinguish the son's paintings from the father's [...] none is wholly satisfactory.' In the absence of an authenticated signature, and in view of the difficulties of differentiating between the hands of the elder Neeffs and his sons, it is reasonable to assume that these works are products of the studio of Peeter Neeffs the elder (c.1578 - 1656-61). The figures are probably by a different hand from the architecture. It is possible that the enigmatic remnants of an inscription on the verso of the copper plate [see Inscription 1, above] refer in some way to Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger (c.1580-1649), whose work was closely connected with that of Peeter Neeffs the elder, leading to occasional confusion between the two artists.

The painting belongs to a series of church interiors by Peeter Neeffs the elder and his studio, of which there are numerous variants, many in public collections on the continent. This type of composition was first developed by Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger (c.1580-1649), whose father probably taught Peeter Neeffs the elder. Known variants are listed by Martin (1970, pp. 101-102), among which the following are close in conception to the Brodick painting:
Peeter Neeffs the elder and Bonaventura Peeters the elder, An Evening Service in a Church, 1649, oil on oak, 26.8 x 38.2cm, National Gallery, London (NG 2206).
Two versions in the Staatliche Gemäldegalerie, Cassel, on copper, measuring 27.4 x 39.2 cm and 9.7 x 14.5cm.
A painting, sold through Christie's, London, 29 January 1971, lot 86, the property of the Rt. Honourable the Earl Beatty D.S.O., described as 'Hendrick van Steenwyck, The Interior of a Church, with a priest celebrating mass at a side altar and people kneeling nearby, on panel, 24.1 x 33cm'.
This painting and its companion, both in the Brodick collection, should not be confused with another pair of church interiors by Neeffs, which are also recorded in the Beckford inventory of 1844 (p. 22), in Lansdown Tower, as 'A Pair of Ovals - Interiors of Cathedrals with figures' by 'P. Neefs'. Like the pair now at Brodick, the oval versions also showed variations on the same church interior by day and night. A pencil annotation indicates that the oval versions were transferred initially to the Duke of Hamilton's London town house in Portman Square. The works were subsequently sent north to Hamilton Palace, where they are recorded in 1876 in the Princess's Boudoir as Interior of a Church by 'Peter Neefs' and 'Its Companion'. They appear again in the Hamilton Palace Inventory of 1890, where they are recorded in the Princess's Suite - Boudoir, as 'Pair - Cathedral Interiors (oval) by P. Neefs 6 1/2 x 5' . All of the pictures in Princess Marie of Baden's private suites were spared from the 1882 Hamilton Palace sale. The pictures survived the final sale of the contents of Hamilton Palace in 1919, being among the few works selected by the Duchess of Hamilton to be transferred to their property of Lynstead Lodge. The pictures are now in a private collection.

William Beckford was greatly attracted to paintings of architectural, particularly Gothic, interiors. Two paintings in the National Gallery, London, by Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger and an Imitator of van Steenwijck, depicting respectively A Man kneeling before a Woman in the Courtyard of a Renaissance Palace (NG141) and an Interior of a Church at Night (NG 2205) were in Beckford's collection at Fonthill Abbey in the 1820s (NG 141, more tentatively identified as ex-Fonthill).

Rights Owner The National Trust for Scotland
Author Katrina Thomson
 

 

 

 

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