Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983–94), 4:2406, 2418, no. 1605. While in the collection of Lord Forbes, the painting was attributed to Salomon de Koninck (1609–56). De Koninck painted several similar, small history scenes, but with a more subdued palette and a looser handling of the paint. As Sumowski notes, the attribution to Willem de Poorter originally came from Albert Blankert, who was working at the RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie/Netherlands Institute for Art History) at the time.
Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983–94), 4:2406, no. 1604, for Tarquinius Finding Lucretia at Work, and 2407, no. 1606, for Sacrifice of Jephta’s Daughter, at the time in the Marquis of Bristol collection as Sacrifice of Iphegenia, oil on canvas, 46.9 x 57.1 cm, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, inv. no. 94/01.
Compare, for instance, an earlier Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which De Poorter executed in the early 1640s and in which the figures are smaller and further away from the picture plane. See Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983–94), 4:2409, no. 1615.
See Werner Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, 10 vols. (New York, 1979–92), 9:4796–97, no. 2136x. This unsigned drawing, which is the mirror image of Rembrandt’s painting, was formerly attributed to Ferdinand Bol (1616–80), but Sumowski attributed it to De Poorter on the basis of stylistic similarities with De Poorter’s signed and dated 1636 drawing after Rembrandt’s Susanna at Her Bath at the Mauritshuis.
For a discussion of De Poorter’s Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra, 1636, oil on panel, 55 x 82 cm, with a strong use of chiaroscuro inspired by Rembrandt, see Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Willem de Poorter: Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas at Lystra,” in Albert Blankert et al., Gods, Saints and Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt (Exh. cat. Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art; Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) (Washington, D.C., 1980), 158–59, no. 33. It remains unclear whether De Poorter ever studied with Rembrandt, and if so, when. See Adriaan Waiboer, “Willem de Poorter: Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt Pupil,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 5, no. 2 (2013): DOI:10.5092/jhna.2013.5.2.12
Although it is traditionally assumed that he studied in Rembrandt’s Leiden workshop around 1628–31, Waiboer suggests that he might have briefly worked in the master’s Amsterdam atelier around 1636 instead.
This dating is also supported by dendrochronological analysis performed by Ian Tyers in November 2012 on the lower of the two horizontal boards that make up the panel (the upper board cannot be examined, report on file at the Leiden Collection, New York). According to Tyers, the youngest heartwood ring was formed in 1616 and the panel could have been ready for use from 1624 onwards.
Dirck Volkertsz Coornhert after Maarten van Heemskerck, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, 1549, engraving, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 49.95.112.
See Rachel Pollock’s entry on PL-100 in this catalogue.
This was first noticed by Werner Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, 6 vols. (Landau, 1983–94), 4:2406, 2418, no. 1605. Indeed, the characteristically high throne appears throughout Bramer’s oeuvre, from his earliest dated painting, The Fall of Simon Magus, ca. 1623, oil on copper, 29 x 39 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, to The Judgment of Solomon, 1640s, oil on panel, St. Annen-Museum, Lubeck.
In the Biblia Pauperum, one of the most common medieval typological sources, the Adoration of the Magi is juxtaposed with two Old Testament scenes, Abner Visiting King David and the Queen of Sheba Visiting King Solomon. See Biblia Pauperum: Faksimileausgabe der Vierzigblättrigen Armenbibel-Blockbuches in der Bibliothek der Erzdiözese Esztergom, with an introduction and commentary by Elisabeth Soltész (Hanau, 1967), xxix, no. 3.
See Jane ten Brink Goldsmith et al., “Leonaert Bramer’s The Queen of Sheba Before Solomon,” in Leonaert Bramer 1596–1674: Ingenious Painter and Draughtsman in Rome and Delft (Exh. cat. Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof) (Zwolle, 1994), 164–65, no. 44; see also the appendix, 279, nos. 24–S27.2: Bramer appears to have executed six depictions of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, one of which had a pendant depicting the Adoration of the Magi. Two of them were possibly paired with other scenes from the life of Solomon.
Although no paintings of the Adoration of the Magi by De Poorter survive, a copy after his composition of this subject was auctioned at Butterfields, 31 May 1990, no. 5151 (oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76 cm).
The characterization of the wood is based on Ian Tyers’s dendrochronology report.
According to Ian Tyers’s dendrochronology report. Unfortunately, the two original planks and four triangular additions are too short and provide too few rings along the end-grain to date.