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Jacob Grimmer (Holland 1525/26‑1590)

A winter landscape with the Massacre of the innocents

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Classic & Asian 8-10 December 2021

Lot 8 Jacob Grimmer (Holland 1525/26‑1590). A winter landscape with the Massacre of the innocents (Matthew, II:16-18). Oil on panel, 42 x 65.5 cm.

The staffage is by another hand.
A certificate signed and dated by Reine de Bertier 21 September 1979 is included with this lot.


250.000 – 300.000 SEK
€ 25.000 – 30.000


With P. de Boer, Amsterdam.
Anonymous Sale, Sotheby’s London, 24 November 1971, lot 33, as Abel Grimmer.
Anonymous Sale, Sotheby’s London, 24 May 1972, lot 64, as Abel Grimmer (£60 to D.M. Naylor).
Anonymous Sale, Sotheby’s London, 25 July 1973, lot 60, as Grimmer.
The collection of art dealer Tore Gerschman (1913-1992), Stockholm.


Reine de Bertier de Sauvigny, Jacob et Abel Grimmer: catalogue raisonné, 1991,
p. 127, no. 14, as Jacob Grimmer.

In context

Jacob Grimmer and his winter landscape

The present painting is a version on smaller scale of the winter landscape with the Flight into Egypt, oil on canvas, 123 x 145 cm, last seen at the sale of Paul Brandt Amsterdam, 15 May 1979, lot 15 (see R. de Bertier, op.cit. p. 129. cat.no. 13, with illustration). Minor changes occur in the foreground, especially in the arrangements of the wooden planks near the ice, while the subject was changed to the Massacre of the Innocents executed by an as yet unidentified hand. 

The painting is a fine and characteristic work by the artist, showing Grimmer’s foremost interest in the naturalistic rendering of rural settings, yet revealing the influence of Pieter Brueghel I (1526/30 – 1569) in the high perspective of the view. With paintings such as these, Grimmer contributed to the further development of landscape painting in the second half of the 16th century. 

Jacob Grimmer, born in Antwerp in 1525, was a student of Gabriel Bouwens and became a master in the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke in 1547. He often found inspiration for his landscapes in the areas around Antwerp. His contemporaries praised him as an outstanding landscape painter and even Rembrandt owned a winter landscape by Grimmer, according to his inventory of 1656. Grimmer is said to have visited Italy and is mentioned by Vasari (1550) as one of the best landscape painters of his time.

Grimmer’s landscape paintings often included small-scale biblical or historical narrative, just as in the present painting with the Massacre of the Innocent. He collaborated with painters such as Marten van Cleve and Gillis Mostaert for the staffage. 

Grimmer’s son Abel (ca. 1570-after 1617) also became an important landscape and architectural painter, in the tradition of Brueghel. 

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