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Hecuba' s Grief
Bramer, Leonaert
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Bramer, Leonaert

Delft, 1596 - Delft, 1674

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Hecuba' s Grief

Ca. 1630. Oil on copperplate

Both the royal inventories and Stchavinsky (1912) identify this scene as the story of Hecuba, wife of Priam of Troy. Wichmann (1923) disagrees, believing it to be the Finding of the bodies of Hero and Leander, an interpretation supported by Valdivieso (1973), Pigler (1974), Salerno (1977-80) and Sluijter (1986). Luna (1984), however, has called attention to the inscription HECVBA / OVIDIVS./ LIB. 13 on the stele of the tunnel arch on the right, thereby confirming the initial identification of the canvas as an illustration of Hecuba`s discovery of the bodies of her children, Polydorus and Polyxena.

The scene, which is taken from Ovid`s Metamorphoses (book XIII, verses 399–575), depicts the moment when Hecuba goes to collect water to bathe the body of her daughter Polyxena, sacrificed on the tomb of Achilles. On so doing, she discovers the corpse of her son Polydorus on the shore, murdered and thrown into the sea by Polymestor, King of Thrace, in whose care he had been placed as a child by Priam, his father.

More specifically, Hecuba`s unrelenting gaze and motionless attitude, coupled with her crown and sumptuous apparel -which, as Goldsmith (1994) is right to observe, does not match her situation at the time, as the captive and slave of Ulysses- suggest that the painting depicts verses 545 and 546: Then [her rage] blazed out, and she, even as she were still a queen / determined on vengeance, her mind filled with nothing but the thought of punishment. This subject was seldom portrayed in earlier or even contemporary painting. Indeed, it would appear only to have been treated previously by Antonio Tempesta in one of his prints for the series of Ovid`s Metamorphoses (1606).

The representation is set in daylight and the background features classical architecture, recreating the tomb of Cecilia Metela on Rome`s Via Appia and the Temple of the Sybil in Tivoli. The bell tower and the castle in the background cannot be identified. The compositional structure, pictorial refinement and renunciation of detail in favour of greater expressiveness suggest other works painted by Bramer around 1630.

Until 1985, this picture appears in the Prado`s catalogues as companion piece to Abraham and the Three Angels. However, despite their stylistic proximity, the support and measurements do not coincide and, above all, there appears to be no connection between this scene from the Metamorphoses and the story from the Bible, the only common denominator being the destruction of the two cities, Sodom and Troy.

On the other hand, Hecuba`s Grief has the same support and measurements as two other Bramer scenes, Hecuba`s Finding of the Bodies of Pyramus and Thisbe and Niobe’s Discovery of the Bodies of her Children, which also illustrate verses by Ovid. It is therefore possible that all three were part of a series devoted to dramatic episodes from the Metamorphoses (Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, p. 298).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P002069
Author
Bramer, Leonaert
Title
Hecuba' s Grief
Date
Ca. 1630
Technique
Oil
Support
Copperplate
Dimension
Height: 46.2 cm.; Width: 59.6 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1779, nº 31; Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, h, 1787, nº 31; Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1801, nº 31).

Bibliography +

Stchavinsky, W., Leonaert Bramer en: Starye Gody, 1912, pp. 23.

Wichmann, Heinrich, Leonaert Bramer, sein Leben und seine Kunst, Leipzig, 1923, pp. 27 y 141.

Zarco Cuevas, Julián, Cuadros reunidos por Carlos IV, siendo Principe, en su Casa de Campo en El Escorial, Madrid, 1934, pp. 14.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973, pp. 229-230.

Pigler, A., Barockthemen: eine Auswahl von Verzeichnisse zur Ikonographie de 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, II, Budapest, 1974, pp. 323.

Salerno, Luigi, Pittori di paesaggio del Seicento a Roma = Landscape painter, I, Ugo Bozzi, Roma, 1977, pp. 274-275.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 86, nº15.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 84.

Sluijter, Eric Jan, De ''Heydeschen Fabulen'' in de Nordnederlandse Schilderkunst circa 1590-1670, een proeve van beschrijving en interpretatie van schilderijen met verhalende onderwerpen uit de klassieke mythologie, La Haya, 1986, pp. 88.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, I, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº1459.

Brink Goldsmith, Jane ten, Leonaert Bramer 1596-1674. Ingenious Painter and Draugthman in Rome and Delft, Delft, 1994, pp. nº31.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 34-36.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 246.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 30 n.117.

Cenalmor Bruquetas, Elena, Nuevas obras de Leonaert Bramer en el Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXI, 2013, pp. 6-17 [6,12].

Other inventories +

Inv. Casita del Príncipe (Escorial), 1779. Núm. 31.
Otro, en lámina, que contiene la Fabula de Ecuba, de tres cuartas de largo, y media vara de caída, original de Rembran [esta última palabra tachada en el original y añadido:]. Leonardo Bramier. 31

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. f.414v.
Sesenta y nueve. Hecuba: abalanzase hacia su hijo Polidoro, muerto y recien arrojado a la playa por las olas, mientras por otra parte una doncella de su sequito descubre el cadaver de Polixena para ungirle, de Leonardo Bramer, cobre.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1459.
Bramer (Leonardo) / 1459. Hecuba. / Abalanzándose hacia su hijo Polidoro muerto y arro- / jado á la playa por las olas, mientras por otra parte / una doncella de su sequito descubre el cadáver de Po- / lixena y se prepara a ungirle. / Imita el estilo de Rembrandt. (Cobre.) / Alto 1 pie, 7 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 2 pies, 1 pulg, / 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1210.
1210.-(1459-N.)-El dolor de Hécuba. Abalánzase / hácia su hijo Polidoro, muerto y arrojado á la playa / por las olas. (Véase nuestro Catálogo extenso.) / Col de Doña Isabel de Farnesio, Pal. de San Ildef. / Alto 0,45; ancho 0,74.-T

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
Madrid
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Dutch Painters at the Prado
Madrid
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

Location +

Room 076 (On Display)

Displayed objects +

Pitchers / Jugs

Bell

Update date: 29-06-2018 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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