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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

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"Resting on the Bluff", a pair of paintings | Pieter van Bloemen (attr.)

Bloemen, Pieter van

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Unsigned, later engraved attribution plaque on each frame, executed in oil on canvas
Item # 911TRM16W 

A vibrant and complex pair of Italianate landscape scenes of travelers resting on a bluff overlooking the valley and cities beyond, they are a powerful presentation with exquisitely painted animals. Notable influences of anthropomorphic Romanticism in the features of the horses lend a certain humor and lightheartedness to the scenes; in one a cheery rider arrives on a donkey and engages a resting woman and her child, presumably while her husband reattaches the cart to the resting horses. In the other a rider chats with a man and his wife while they rest their horses.

The works are unsigned and are attributed to Pieter Van Bloemen by engraved plaques on the frames. Like his brother Jan Frans, much of Pieter Van Bloemen's work is unsigned, but many are initialed with variants of PVB, PB, or VB. The present example has no initials or signatures. We are not authorities on Van Bloemen's work. We do find the attribution reasonable after a review of Van Bloemen's work, but have the pair priced as if they were unattributed.

Pieter van Bloemen was born in Antwerp on Jan 17 of 1657. He was also known also known as Standaart and his first name is sometimes spelled Peeter or Peter. Beginning around the age of 10, Pieter studied under Simon Johannes van Douw, a well-known painter of battle scenes. Some references also note him as being a pupil of landscape painter Willem Romeijn (Haarlem, 1624-94). By the age of 17 he was the Master of the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp.

His work always centered around dramatic landscapes, often incorporating large collections of animals in scenes of war, robbery, market life and genre depictions of villagers. These often have an Italianate influence and much of his work included a white horse in the composition.

He traveled extensively, including spending time in Lyon in 1684 with Dutch artists Gillis Weenix and Adriaen van Der Cabel. In 1688 Pieter traveled to Rome with his brother Jan Frans and returned in 1690 with their younger brother Norbert. Both of his brothers were accomplished painters. The brothers made trips to Naples, Malta and Sicily and some works are a collaboration between Pieter and Jan Frans. Because of Pieter's skill in painting animals, horses in particular, he was often invited to collaborate on works with local artists. One notable example is the battle scene he painted for the Duke of Marlborough during his visit of Antwerp, a portrait depiction of the Battle of Ramillies of 1706 that he completed in collaboration with Balthasar van den Bossche.

The nickname "Standaart" comes from Pieter's association with a group of Dutch and Flemish artists in Rome called Schildersbent. It was practice of the association to give one another a "bent name" and this almost undoubtedly refers to the banners and standards so often depicted in his scenes of military conflict.

Eventually the brothers separated with Norbert leaving for Amsterdam in the 1720s, Jan Frans living the rest of his life in Rome and Pieter returning to Antwerp in 1694. He became the dean of the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp in 1699 and lived out the rest of his life there until his death March 6th of 1720. 

Artist Listings & Further Reading:

  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. II, Gründ, 2006, p. 634-35

Measurements: 15 1/4" H x 20 1/2" W [canvas]; 21 1/4" H x 26 3/4" W x 2 1/4" D [frame]

Condition Report:
Both paintings fully conserved and cleaned, fresh varnish. Old mold spores deactivated in the canvas; specks of discoloration remain in crevices of craquelure. Areas of loss from deactivation inpainted - see images under UV for flares from touch-ups. Old relining. Light craquelure throughout. Old frames in overall fair-to-good condition with chips, wear, cracks etc.