Daniel van Heil specialised in warm and in cold subject: burning towns and winter landscapes with ice skaters.
He regularly painted the mythological Fall of Troy: after ten years the Greek were able to take, plunder and destroy the town thanks to the ruse with the wooden horse.
Van Heil has represented Troy as a contemporary 17th century town with part of the spooky wooden horse appearing at the centre. In the foreground some of the inhabitants of Troy are eskaping. Among them Aeneas, forefather of Romulus and Remus, and of Julius Caesar.
About Daniel van Heil
Brussels circa 1604 – in or after 1664 Brussels
Son of Léon I van Heil, whom nothing is known about.
Master in the Brussels Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in 1627.
He had six pupils between 1643 and 1660, amongst whom his own son, Théodore, who specialised in panoramic landscapes.
Our painter specialised in both warm and cold subjects.
He painted either views of burning towns with magnificently rendered flames (be it contemporary views of Antwerp and Brussels, or mythological and biblical subjects set in Troy or Sodom and Gomorrah) or winter landscapes with ice skaters.
Occasionally he also painted Italianate landscapes with ruins.
Although the differences between both painters are obvious, confusion reigns between Daniel van Heil and the Dutch painter Dirck Verhaert, as both painters occasionally used the same monogram "DVH". An additional problem is the fact that van Heil so rarely signed or monogrammed his paintings.
About our painting
Both Homer in his ‘Odysssey’ and the Roman author Virgil in his ‘Aeneid’ describe how the War of Troy ended with the fall of the town thanks to a ruse: the Wooden Horse.
Having tried in vain for ten years to take Troy, Ulysses had a huge hollow statue of a wooden horse build, in which Greek soldiers were hidden. The Trojans thought the Greek had left for home, but the entire fleet was hiding behind the island of Tenedos. The Trojans pulled the statue to the temple of Athena inside town and then celebrated the end of the siege.
In the second part of the night the Greek soldiers emerged from the horse and they opened the undefended city gates to the rest of the Greek army … The town was finally taken by ruse after a siege that had lasted for ten long years.
For centuries painters have transposed biblical and mythological stories to their own surroundings : in this case Troy looks like a 17th century Flemish town.
In the right foreground we see Aeneas, forefather of Romulus and Remus, and of Julius Caesar, fleeing Troy. He is carrying his father Anchises, his son Ascanius is running in front of him. Ascanius is carrying the family penates, the family deities.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a happy marriage of the greatest mythological subject, set within a Flemish, 17th century town.