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Dirck van Baburen

Democritus, The laughing philosopher

Oil on canvas
72 x 58.5 cm

Laughing Democritus surfaced on the Swiss art market in the spring of 2020 after having not been seen in public in decades. Wayne Franits, Ph.D (Distinguished Professor of Art History, Syracuse University) had only been familiar with it from old black-and-white photographs that he had studied . Both Laughing Democritus and its pendant Weeping Heraclitus were attributed to the supposed joint studio of Terbruggen and Baburen. Presently, he no longer believes that the two masters shared a studio. Particularly helpful for my reevaluation of this tenuous hypothesis was Julia van den Burg’s Bachelor of Art History thesis completed in 2009 at the University of Amsterdam under the auspices of Marten Jan Bok. Van der Burg challenged the very existence of a joint workshop between Terbrugghen and Baburen. Her probing analyses of, among other things, the physiognomic features of figures in select paintings by these two artists led her to conclude that the potential number of common models between them was nominal and, surprisingly, if anything, Ter Brugghen and Honthorst seemed to have shared more motifs and hence enjoyed a closer working relationshipvan den Burg, “Atelier Practices in the Seventeenth Century: The Question of a Common Workshop by Ter Brugghen and Van Baburen”, Bachelor of art history thesis, University of Amsterdam 2009.

Artist Dirck van Baburen
Title Democritus, The laughing philosopher
Date 1622
Technique Oil
Materials Canvas
Dimensions 72 x 58.5
Signed & dated T.B. fecit Ano 1622

Image - Dirck van Baburen - Laughing Democritus

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Minister Fredrik Due Collection, Stockholm. Axel Wenner-Gren Collection, Stockholm. With Schaffer Galleries, New York, 1961. Sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 March 1965, lot 31, as by Terbrugghen. With Arcade Gallery, London. Private Collection, Switzerland. Sale, Koller, Zürich, 19 June 2020 (auction postponed from 27 March 2020), lot 3057, as by the workshop of Baburen.

Benedict Nicolson, ‘A Postscript to Baburen,’ The Burlington Magazine 104 (1962), pp. 540, 543, 543 n.14, as not by Baburen’s hand; as unlikely to be the pendant of Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay). Leonard J. Slatkes, Dirck van Baburen (c. 1595-1624); A Dutch Painter in Utrecht and Rome. Proefschrift , University of Utrecht, 1962, pp. 89 note 132, 103 handlist no. D3 Leonard J. Slatkes, Dirck van Baburen (c. 1595 - 1624); A Dutch Painter in Utrecht and Rome, Utrecht 1965, pp. 89 note 132, 147 cat. no. D3, 148, fig. 45, as by the workshop of Baburen. Albert Blankert, ‘Heraclitus en Democritus; in het bijzonder in de Nederlands kunst van de zeventiende eeuw,’ Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 18 (1967), pp. 46, 52, 95 cat. no. 25, fig. 14, as by the workshop of Baburen. Benedict Nicolson, The International Caravagg¬esque Movement: Lists of Pictures by Caravaggio and His Followers throughout Europe from 1590 to 1650, Oxford 1979, p. 19, as by an assistant of Baburen; as a pendant to Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay). Cornelia Moiso-Diekamp, Das Pendant in der holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt a. M., New York, etc., 1987, p. 296 cat. no. C1, as a pendant to Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay); as measuring 72 x 59 cm. Benedict Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, revised ed., 3 vols., ed. by Luisa Vertova, Turin 1989, vol. 1, p. 56; vol. 3, fig. 1085, as by an assistant of Baburen; maybe a pendant to Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay). Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée, "Le caravagisme en Europe: À propos de la réédition du Nicolson," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 122 (1993), p. 210. Elizabeth McGrath, Rubens Subjects from History (Corpus Rubenianum pt. 13), 2 vols., London 1997, vol. 2, p. 58. San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco- Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery - London, The National Gallery, Masters of Light: Dutch Painters in Utrecht during the Golden Age (cat. by Joneath Spicer et al.), 1997-1998, p. 203. Leonard J. Slatkes and Wayne Franits, The Paintings of Hendrick ter Brugghen 1588-1629, Amsterdam - Philadelphia 2007, pp. 21-22, 45 note 67, 67, 83, 138, 229 cat. no. WTBVB7, plate 104, as by the joint workshop of Terbrugghen and Baburen; as a pendant to Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay). Wayne Franits, The Paintings of Dirck van Baburen ca. 1592/93-1624: Catalogue Raisonné, Amsterdam- Philadelphia 2013, pp. 187, 188, 189 cat. no. WBTB3, plate 48, as by the joint workshop of Baburen and Terbrugghen; as a pendant to Heraclitus (fig. 2 in this essay).

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