Flemish School 16th Century
A Belt Maker’s Workshop
This fascinating pair of panels were recorded as Annibale Carracci while in the collection of John Spencer at Althorp during the 18th century. By the 19th century ideas about their attribution had moved north to the Flemish artist Quentin Massys, and when they last came to the market in 1988, they were attributed to the Bolognese School. They display many characteristics of the work of Gillis Mostaert and in particular to a pair of panels formerly with Rafael Valls of Leather tanning which are now in the collection of the Leathersellers Livery company in London.
These particular panels offer rare glimpses inside 16th century leather workers’ shops. An important series of woodcuts made by the German artist Jost Amann for his Book of Trades (Panoplia omnium illiberalium mechanicarum). Published in 1568 it must have been a source of inspiration for the artist. The book was a compendium of 133 individual woodcuts, each one illustrating a single profession in an interior, from an illuminator to a scythe maker to a leather shearer and so on. Most often these scenes showed figures at work around tables with their work hanging on the walls behind them.
John, Spencer, Althorp, by 1746;
By descent to his son, John, 1st Earl Spencer;
By descent in the family;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 8 July 1988, lot 103 (as Bolognese School, 1579);
Acquired there by the previous owner
Knapton, 'Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp and Wimbledon belong to the late Honble. Mr. Spencer', 1746, nos. 350-351 (as Annibale Carracci "Taylors at work, the family of the Carracci, a Sketch by Annibal");
T.F. Didbin, 'Aedes Althorpianae, or, An account of the mansion, books, and pictures of Althorp: the residence of George John Earl Spencer...', London 1822, p. 275, (as by Quentin Massys);
'Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp House', 1851, cat. nos. 110, 112 (as by Quentin Massys);
K.J. Garlick, 'A Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp', The Walpole Society, vol. 45, 1976, p. 11, cat. nos. 79-80, (as attributed to Agostino Carracci, attribution from Malcolm Waddingham);
C. Robertson, 'Annibale Carracci and Invenzione: Medium and Function in the Early Drawings,' in Master Drawings, vol. 3, no. 1, 1997, p. 36, note 19 (as implausibly attributed to Annibale Carracci).