With this Susanna, the 16th-century painter mingles Flemish realism with Italian elegance.
Jacob de Backer (around 1540-1585), Susanna and the Elders, panel, 124 x 167 cm, framed in carved gilt wood worked in south-west France during the Louis XIV period.
The rarity of works by Jacob de Backer, the quality of this painting and its debut on the market explained why it caused a fierce battle up to five times its estimate. Bought at a public sale in 1968, when it was attributed to Perino del Vaga, this panel painting, making its appearance at auction for the first time, is a marvellous illustration of the Mannerist influence of 16th-century Italy on Flemish painters. The rest of this classic sale was marked by several purchases topping their high estimates, and over 75% of the lots were sold. The finest results were achieved by pieces from the same collection as this painting. For instance, €33,750 went to a Louis XIV wall clock on a plinth in Boulle marquetry, and €15,625 to another clock in bronze with a double patina, made outside France at the turn of the 19th century. Refinement was certainly present, too, thanks to the Sèvres Manufacture, which imitated fine Wedgwood stoneware with a porcelain plaque of The Rape of Helen in bas-relief. This fetched €26,250 (18.9 x 29.6 cm, 7.4 x 11.6 in).