Feast of the Gods
A collaboration between Hendrick van Balen (the figures) and an artist from the circle of Jan Brueghel the Elder (the landscape and still-life elements), this charming copper depicts The Feast of the Gods, also called the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Peleus and Thetis were the parents of Achilles, the Greek hero, and their marriage was attended by the gods of Olympus. Also present was Eris, the goddess of Strife, who threw down the golden apple, which set off the chain of events that culminated in the Trojan War. In our work van Balen gives precedence to the beauty to the female attendants at the expense of a more detailed depiction of the various gods and their attributes. Van Balen painted this subject on a number of occasions (some in collaboration with Jan Brueghel the Elder). Our picture relates most closely to that in a Swiss private collection.
The question of collaboration is an interesting one. The most prolific collaborator at this time was Jan Brueghel the Elder, who worked with a number of artists, including van Balen, Joos de Momper, Peter Paul Rubens and David Teniers the Younger, all of whom his son, Jan the Younger, inherited as collaborators following his death in 1625. Although not unique to Flemish art in the seventeenth century (for instance, in the following century, Italian landscape artists such as Andrea Locatelli often used figure painters for the staffage in their compositions), the practice was never more highly developed than in this period. Collaborative works were highly prized at the time – arguably the most famous example is the series of The Five Senses painted by Jan the Elder and Rubens (Prado, Madrid) and the illustrious provenance of these paintings, which are recorded in the collection of Philip IV in Alcázar in 1634, attests to their importance. Perhaps the appeal of such works is that they challenged the generally accepted hierarchy of genres, combining the traditionally distinct categories of history, landscape and still life painting.

Height 11.00 cm (4.33 inches)
Width 15.30 cm (6.02 inches)
Oil on copper
P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd

P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd
15 Old Bond Street

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