de jonckheere old masters

Josef van Bredael

Antwerp 1688 – Paris 1793

The brother of Jan Pieter, Josef van Bredael was a Flemish landscape artist, and part of a long line of painters. In 1706, at the age of eighteen, he committed himself for four years to coping small paintings by Jan ‘Velvet’ Brueghel, Philippe Wouverman and other artists for the Antwerp dealer J. de Witte. In 1735 he emigrated to Paris. He became a member of the Royal Academy of the court of the Duke of Orléans. This painter, whose style is still widely unknown, signed his paintings with the monogram JB, like Jan Brueghel, hence the occasional confusion. Essentially a landscape artist, Josef van Bredael was inspired by Brueghelian compositions though he employed the aesthetics particular to his day in his interpretations. Focusing on details, he meticulously executes his characters and décor in the style of a miniaturist. He particularly excels in indicating the succession of planes by using lateral screens and through subtle and nuanced colouring, with an orientation towards tones of dominant blues and browns, though always gentle and subtle.

While his compositions and motifs are sometimes borrowed from Jan Brueghel, he adds a personal note to the contours of his figures and his strokes. The portrayal of the horse is particularly characteristic with its slender legs, a powerful body and a strangely small head. He shapes his motifs and volumes with a light stroke which gives the impression of life and movement. Showing a keen observation of the animal world within a harmonious landscape, the painter uses a real quality of execution and a delicate naturalism which places him amongst the best imitators of Jan ‘Velvet’ Brueghel, alongside P. Gysels, T. Michau or M. Schoevaerdts.