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Holly Brackenbury, Consultant, Sotheby’s London, selects The Prayer Before the Meal By Jan Havicksz Steen

The Prayer Before the Meal
By Jan Havicksz Steen
Estimated price: £5,000,000-7,000,000

In December, Sotheby’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale will be offering an important painting by the Dutch master, Jan Havicksz Steen.

The Prayer Before The Meal comes from the collection of Sudeley Castle and was produced during the golden age of Dutch genre painting. The painting not only has impeccable provenance going back to the mid-18th century, but has been exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy and has been shown at The National Gallery, Washington and the Rijksmuseum.

This intimate painting portrays a couple and infant praying before a simple meal. The artist’s sensitive treatment of light is heightened by the clever positioning of the window, highlighting both form and texture and providing a sense of perspective with the view beyond. This painting, depicting a humble domestic scene, also possesses deeply religious connotations. A number of pious references have been subtly placed within the composition. The bell chandelier above the couple is inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer, the inclusion of the key hanging on the wall signifies trustworthiness, and on the shelf above is placed a skull, wreath and extinguished candle that is emblematic of death and resurrection.

The sale of this remarkable painting gives collectors a unique opportunity to acquire a Dutch masterpiece that hasn’t been offered on the market for generations.

Sotheby’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale Including Three Masterworks from Chatsworth will take place in London on December 5, 2012. For further information, please visit http://www.sothebys.com.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on November 25, 2012.