Adam-Franz van der Meulen


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Author: Adam-Franz van der Meulen
Battle Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 121x171.5 cm
Origin: France, 1657

The canvas The Battle and the companion painting Cavalry Engagement were previously listed in the Hermitage inventories as "An Episode from the Scottish War of 1650-1651" and "An Episode from Louis XIV's Wars in Flanders". However, when Diderot wrote to Catherine the Great, he quite correctly called them "batailles ideales" - imaginary battles. These are the earliest of 10 paintings by van der Meulen in the Hermitage collection.The works are signed and dated 1657, that is, prior to the artist's arrival in France. They belong to the typical Flemish battle genre. They are splendidly composed and produce an effect on the viewer. The paintings represent abstract scenes which do not correspond to any concrete historical event.

Diderot noticed these two paintings as early as 1769, when they were in the collection of Louis-Michel Van Loo, and he commented on them to Falconet, who was buying paintings in Paris for the new collection of the Empress: "I have found for Her Imperial Majesty two van der Meulens, perhaps the most splendid of all the ones in Europe. These are large, matched paintings. They are as fresh as if they were just completed?" However, the price asked was exorbitantly high and therefore Catherine II only bought them three years later, when Van Loo's collection was sold off following his death and the price was significantly lower - 10,000 francs. It should be mentioned that even at such a price van der Meulen's paintings were the most expensive at this auction. The amount paid was greater than for canvases by Rubens or Rembrandt.

Album: Pair to the painting "Cavalery in the Battle"
Source of entry: Collection of L.M. Vanloo, Paris, 1772
Theme: History

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