Abraham Janssens (Antwerp c. 1575-1632)
An Allegory of Lust (Lascivia)
inscribed 'LASCIVIA' (on the strap of the mantle)
oil on canvas
4612 x 3834 in. (118.2 x 98.4 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 31 January 1997, lot 38.
with Newhouse Galleries, New York, where purchased by
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bauchner; Christie's, New York, 26 January 2001, lot 77, where acquired by a private collector, and by whom sold
[Property from a Private Collector]; Christie's, New York, 26 January 2011, lot 125, where acquired by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

Abraham Janssens was Sir Peter Paul Rubens' leading rival in Antwerp in the first third of the seventeenth century. Datable to circa 1618 on account of stylistic similarities with Janssens’ Diana and Nymphs (Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel) and Olympus (Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Alte Pinakothek, Munich), this painting is an exceptional example of the artist’s classicizing tendencies following his departure from the Caravaggesque tenebrism which had characterized his earlier work. An autograph repetition of this painting which lacks the exquisite still life elements in the lower left foreground as well as the glass and bread beneath the mirror is in the Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.
This composition seamlessly merges two divergent tendencies in Janssens’ art. The monumental, solid figure likely derives from the classical and Renaissance sculpture that Janssens had encountered while resident in Rome between 1598 and 1601, chief among them the works of Michelangelo. By contrast, the still life elements display the influence of local Antwerp painters like Osias Beert, Jacob van Hulsdonck and Frans Snyders. Much like his Italian predecessors, who frequently produced personifications of virtues and vices, Janssens here takes as his subject Lust (Lascivia), emblazoning her name on the strap of her mantle. To further the narrative, the seductive young woman is depicted gazing at herself in the mirror, a traditional symbol of vanity, while two copulating sparrows perch on her left hand.

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