Abraham Govaerts and Sebastiaen Vrancx

An elegant couple strolling through the forest

Artist: Abraham Govaerts (Antwerp 1589 - 1626) and Sebastiaen Vrancx (Antwerp 1573 - 1647)
Medium: oil on panel
Dimensions: 45 x 64 cm
Marks: stamped with the panel maker's mark and the Antwerp 'hand'

Abraham Govaerts was born in Antwerp in 1589. His father was an art dealer. Little is known of his training, but it is evident when looking at his early oeuvre that he was a follower of Jan Brueghel the Elder. It has been suggested he might have studied in the latter’s workshop, yet this has not been proven. The style of Antwerp-born painter Gillis van Coninxloo, who later on worked mostly in Amsterdam, was another mayor influence for Govaerts, especially in his landscapes. In 1607 he became a member of the guild of St Luke; he became dean of the guild in 1623. His most important pupil was the landscape painter Alexander Keirincx. After Govaerts’ death, many of his compositions were finished by Keirincx and another contemporary, Jasper van der Laanen.

The present painting is a beautiful example of the artistic collaborations Govaerts frequently undertook with other painters. In these paintings, he would do the landscape, while a fellow painter painted the figures. That way, as each artist kept to his own specialization, this type of ‘horizontal collaboration’ (between two masters, as opposed to vertical collaboration between master and apprentice) allowed not only for a substantial increase in production, but also assured that all the elements in the painting were of the best quality possible. Govaerts’ frequent collaborators included Hans III Jordaens and Frans II Francken, yet in the present painting the elegant couple walking their dog in the woods is by Sebastiaen Vrancx, another well-known contemporary of Govaerts.