Lot 15
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15 000 - 20 000 EUR
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Result : 19 500 EUR


Simeon, holding the infant Jesus, sings the "Nunc Dimittis" in the temple
Around 1651
Oil on canvas
113 x 101.2 cm

We thank Dr. Constanze Köster for confirming the attribution to Jürgen Ovens after photographic examination of the work.

Ovens was a pupil of Rembrandt in Amsterdam, at the same time as Govaert Flinck, before leaving for Antwerp, where he worked under Jan Lievens, and returning to Holland in 1657.
He worked in collaboration with his former studio mate, and in 1661 Ovens was commissioned to complete a work begun by Flinck before his death. The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis, commissioned to take the throne in the new Amsterdam town hall, replaced the painting of the same subject painted by Rembrandt, which was removed from the walls of the town hall to make way for it, thus consecrating the pupil in the place of the master.
Celebrated for his historical and religious paintings, Ovens was also a talented portraitist, as shown by the face so personified of Simeon, appearing in full mystical light. Ovens completed numerous paintings commissioned for private chapels (Schlosskapelle Eutin) or for Schleswig Cathedral in the duchy ruled by the Holstein-Gottorp family, his main patrons.
This painting was probably created for private use, following a commission, or for the art market. The latter hypothesis would explain why there are three versions in total, listed by Harry Schmidt in 1922 (1). One is kept at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel, and the other two
, noted under numbers 23 and 24, were sold in Hamburg in 1809 and 1810.
A drawing showing the composition of this painting, with Mary and Joseph in the background, is kept in the Hamburg Museum. While our painting is
imbued in the manner of Rembrandt, this drawing, under the influence of van Dyck, was probably made during Ovens' second stay in the Netherlands in 1657-1663. The artist's retrospective return to one of his works suggests that he himself considered it an important image in his prolific career. This is confirmed by the existence of period copies, including one on sale at Christie's, signed by Jan van Neck.

(1): Schmidt, Harry, Jürgen Ovens, sein Leben und seine Werke. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei im XVII. Jahrhundert, 1922, p.143.
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