The Flemish painter Pieter Casteels II, active in Antwerp during the last quarter of the 17th century, is best known for both his realistic views of Paris and for his fictitious, fantasized, crowded capriccio town views.
In our painting he has combined a view of Paris along the Quai Conti and its famous landmark the Tour de Nesle (opposite the Louvre Palace) with shipping along an Italianate coastline.
About Pieter Casteels II
Antwerp circa 1650 – 1701 Antwerp
Landscape painter of town and harbour views.
Son of Pieter I, who is thought to have been a painter of allegorical subjects.
Our Pieter II became a Master in the Antwerp Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in the year 1673/74.
He was married to Eilisabeth Bosschaert. The couple had two sons; the first one, Pieter III (1684 – 1749) became a flower still life painter.
About our painting
It is a well kept secret that our painter, Pieter Casteels II, regularly borrowed elements from engravings by the famous, early 17th century French engraver Jacques Callot (1592 – 1635).
Callot had studied engraving in Rome, but he was successful in Florence where he worked between 1612 and 1621 for Cosimo II de’Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1621 he had returned to his birthplace Nancy at the demand of Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine. In 1629 he visited Paris, at which occasion he made the engraving that inspired our painter. Following the conquest of Nancy by King Louis XIII of France in 1633 Callot wanted to return to Italy, but he sadly died two years later in his birthplace Nancy of stomach cancer at the age of 42/43.
Callot made just a few views of Paris, two of which were very popular and actually not only inspired our Casteels, but several other 17th century painters.
The buildings in our painting copy the left hand side of an engraving by Callot, showing the Nesle Tower and the Louvre. The early 13th century ‘Tour de Nesle’ was demolished in 1665. It stood on the left, that is the S. bank of the River Seine, opposite the Louvre Palace, along the Quai de Conti between the current Pont Neuf and the Pont des Arts.
Casteels’ Parisian views rank amongst his most popular and sought after paintings. Our painting, dating from the last quarter of the 17th century, shows what the Quai Conti looked like around 1630. The right hand side of the painting is of course completely fictitious: Casteels has changed the River Seine into the sea, thus turning this part of Paris capriccio-wise into an exotic seaport.
Many of Casteels’ paintings are not in good condition and are in need of an exaggerated amount of restoration; not so here: our painting is in a fairly good condition.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this exuberant harbour view actually shows a lost sight of Paris along the Quai Conti.