Saeys was a Flemish perspective painter who specialised in these architectural palace fantasies. From 1694 until 1725 he is documented in Vienna, capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
The subject of our remarkably clear painting is probably an exuberant picnic of Queen Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.
About Jacob Ferdinand Saeys
Antwerp 1658 – in or after 1726 Vienna
His last name is sometimes spelt Saey.
Painter of architectural fantasies.
From the year 1672/73 onwards pupil of his uncle, Wilhelm Schubert von Ehrenberg (Antwerp 1630 – after 1687 Antwerp), who was also a painter of architectural scenes and of church interiors. Both von Ehrenberg and Saeys ware influenced by Viviano Codazzi (Bergamo circa 1604 – 1670 Rome), an Italian painter of architectural perspective scenes and of landscapes with ruins who, in his turn, had been influenced by the Nordic Bamboccianti.
In the year 1679/80 Saeys was inscribed as a master in the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luc in Antwerp.
The last trace of Saeys in Flanders is a document from 1684, according to which he lived in Mechelen.
From 1694 until 1725 Saeys is documented in Vienna. As he got married there in 1694, he must have lived and worked in Vienna already for some time.
The last mention of Saeys is from 1726.
As Saeys rarely, in fact almost never, signed his paintings, it is actually difficult to differentiate his artistic production from that of two other much rarer Flemish painters who worked in almost exactly the same style: his contemporary Jacob Balthasar Peeters (also known as Jacob Peeters) and one of Peeters’ pupils, Jan Baptist van der Straeten. Very few signed paintings are known by Peeters, some more by van der Straeten, who also painted the architectural background for Balthasar van den Bossche and for Hendrick Govaerts. Peeters is documented in Antwerp between 1673 and 1689; he must have died in or after 1720. Van der Straeten is documented in Antwerp between circa 1685 and 1731; he was born circa 1671 and died in or after 1731.
Typical of Saeys is his skilfull rendering of perspective and of different materials (in particular marble) and his use of dramatic lighting.
Architectural painters were specialists. For the figure staffage they often turned to other painters: von Ehrenberg and Saeys are known to have used for some of their paintings Hieronymus Janssens.
About our painting
The exotic, Oriental figures in Saeys’ architectural fantasies regularly refer to the extravagant life of Cleopatra. Might our painting represent Queen Cleopatra having a modest picnic with Marc Anthony?
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a beautiful example of a late Baroque architectural fantasy with great classical buildings and an exotic figure staffage.
Because it is painted in such a clear tonalities, which is rather unusual for such an old painting, dating from the last decade of the 17th century.