Follow the Stories | Atlantic City, New Jersey (2010)
Who Was "FVO"?
Fausel discovered these initials just before beginning his appraisal of an Old Master painting, which he attributed to the school of Jan Breughel the Younger. After further research he concluded that they indicate the collaboration of the Flemish artist Frans van Oosten.
The painting is titled Orpheus Charming the Animals and dated 1646.
On ANTIQUES ROADSHOW we do not often select Old Master paintings to be taped. For one reason, we do not see many that are of very good quality. For another reason, they are often unsigned and pose a question of authorship.
However, when the painting of Orpheus Charming the Animals came to our table at the June 2009 ROADSHOW event in Atlantic City, I had a pretty good idea of what it was. The artist was certainly influenced by the great Flemish painter Jan Breughel the Younger. Breughel was part of a large family of artists who painted in the area that is now considered Belgium. He painted landscapes that often contained a variety of animals. He also collaborated with a number of fellow artists in the execution of a single painting. I consulted with my colleague, Elaine Stainton, and we concurred that the painting was certainly in Jan Breugel's sphere of influence.
Finding the answer to an Old Master mystery ...
Just prior to taping the interview, we discovered the initials "FVO" and the date 1646 in the bottom right-hand corner of the painting. Unfortunately, at the time those initials did not conform to any of Breughel's collaborators that Elaine and I knew. But after having more time and resources to research the painting we determined the initials could belong to Frans van Oosten, a Flemish artist who died in 1679. He is not known for many works and fewer still have come onto the art market. Oosten is also not known as an artist who worked with Breughel; however, his brother Isaac van Oosten (1613-1661) certainly was.
There are many works by Isaac in museums and in the art market. He painted many scenes with animals, most notably several Gardens of Eden and Orpheus Charming the Animals, which focused on a wide variety of flora and fauna. As was common in the age, I believe what we have is yet another collaboration, this time with the brothers van Oosten. From the visual evidence we have, in my opinion, it would be difficult to imagine Frans completing this work without the assistance of his elder brother.
In terms of estimate, given Frans' and more importantly, Isaac's, auction records, $30,000-$50,000 is certainly viable. Isaac has made up to $380,000 at auction with larger works, so if the collectors believe as I do that there is a significant amount of Isaac's hand in this work, $60,000-$80,000 may not be out of the question.
More ANTIQUES ROADSHOW articles from the Paintings category:
Protecting Your Art from Thieves (Palm Springs, 2009)
Thomas Hart Benton: A Man and His Mural (Baltimore, 2008)
A Real Andy Warhol? (Honolulu, 2007)
A Lost Little Picasso (Philadelphia, 2007)
Inside "Outsider Art" (Tucson, 2007)
See the Atlantic City, New Jersey (2010) page for a list of all appraisals from this city.
Alan Fausel has been a featured ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraiser specializing in paintings and drawings since 1999. He is director of fine arts at Bonhams in New York City.
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