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Painting Title Jael and Sisera
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Bray, Jan de (Dutch painter, ca. 1627-1697)
Date 1659 (dated)
Signed yes
Description

Jael kneels with hammer upraised, holding the nail against Sisera's head. The subject is taken from Judges 4.21: Sisera was commander of the Canaanite army of King Jabin of Hazor, and oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. After losing one battle, Sisera fled to the settlement of Heber the Kenite in the plain of Zaanaim, where he was received by Jael, Heber's wife. Jael brought him into her tent with apparent hospitality and promised to hide Sisera, but after he fell asleep, she drove a tent peg through his temple with a mallet, which pinned his head to the ground.

Jan de Bray was born in Haarlem. According to Houbraken he was the most famous pupil of his father, the architect and poet Salomon de Bray. De Bray's works are mainly portraits, often of groups. He specialised in historical allegories. YORAG : 789 is one of several Old Testament genre scenes by Jan de Bray in which the principal figures are invariably those of himself and his wife, as in the similar Judith and Holofernes also dated 1659 in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 789
Inscription front c (on the hammer) 'J.Bray 1659'
Subject religion (Old Testament); figure; interior
Measurements 40 x 33 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (oak)
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance Sir Francis George Manningham Boileau (1830-1900), Ketteringham Hall, Norwich, Norfolk(;); Matthiesen Gallery, London, from whom purchased by F.D. Lycett Green 1944.
Principal Exhibitions F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 69; Images of a Golden Age, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1989-90, no. 60; The Cabinet Picture. Dutch and Flemish Masters of the Seventeenth Century, Richard Green Gallery, London, 1999.
Publications ‘A Scriptural Essay by Jan de Bray', The Burlington Magazine, LXXXV, July 1944, p. 181; PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 35, July 1956, vol. IX, p. 354; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, pp. 49-50, pl. 44; Wright, C. (ed.), Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in British Collections, Birmingham, 1989, cat. 60, p. 87; The Cabinet Picture. Dutch and Flemish Masters of the Seventeenth Century, Richard Green Galleries, London, 1999, pp. 126, 127, 188; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 244.
Notes

A drawing dated 1660, by Salomon de Bray, shows the same design as 759 in reverse (J.W. von Moltke, 'Salomon de Brey' in: Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft Vol. 11/12, 1938/39, p. 396, Abb. 78).

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka
 

 

 

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