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Otto van Veen (1556 - 1629)

Lot 505: 1556 Leiden - 1629 BruxellesMiles Christianus.

Van Ham Kunstauktionen

May 15, 2015
Köln (Cologne), Germany

More About this Item


1609-1629. Oil on canvas. 159 x 116cm. Inscription on the lower margin: Miles Christianus contra peccata mortalia pugnans coronam recipit. Framed.

Artist or Maker



- on the upper stretcher an adhesive label marked: "Cabinet de tableaux J.
- on the canvas labelled "No. 8" as well as labelled on the lower frame "MC Witthoff a

Ost, Hans, Unbekannte Werke von Otto van Veen, in: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, Vol. LXVIII,
Cologne 2007, p. 279-294.

- Collection Johann Jakob Merlo, mid 19th century
- Auction 1890, unknown purchaser
- since the 20s in private ownership, Cologne

Otto van Veen was one of Antwerp's leading figure painters and he was the teacher of Peter Paul Rubens. His work "Miles Christianus", which impressively depicts the dramatic battle of the Christian knight against the seven deadly sins and death itself, was considered lost for a long period of time. In 2007 Hans Ost praised the work extensively in his piece "Unbekannte Werke von Otto van Veen" (unknown works by Otto van Veen) in the Wallraf-Richartz yearbook. Presumably it was created between 1609 and 1629 for a Cologne cleric and in the 19th century it came to the collection of Johann Jakob Merlo who is known for his fundamental article "Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Werken Kölnischer Künstler" (news of the lives and works of Cologne artists) from 1850. After his death in 1890 the painting was sold by auction and after decades of uncertainty it was rediscovered in a private collection only a few years ago. Merlo dedicated an extensive description to this opulent work:
"I consider the allegorical painting by Otto Veenius a principal ornament of my collection. Next to excellent technical skills it shows the artist's poetic intellect in all its greatness. By painting his work he wanted to visualise the sublime truth that true Christians have the power to overcome tribulations of the Evil and thereby earn everlasting salvation. A young man trusting in his faith, hope and love is able to wield his sword with a brave and unshaken hand against the mightiest vices. These capital vices being wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are represented by brilliantly chosen attributes. On his shield there is a depiction of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, which represents an important connection to the human duty of obedience against God's commandment. Above the young hero there is a host of angels who show him the weapons of Christ in order to fortify him. The ground is split and in the abyss there are men who abandoned themselves to vices. They make desperate gestures, are surrounded by flames and have to bear the torture of condemnation. (...) On high we see the splendid future lying ahead of the Christian hero: in a glory of light and surrounded by the multi-coloured arch of peace there is Christ holding the banner of victory with the cross. He rewards the kneeling young man with the crown of the Blessed. Below we see the inscription: Miles Christianus contra peccata mortalia pugnans coronam
recipit. (...) According to the statement of former owners Otto Veenius painted this work which is excellent in every respect in Cologne for a noble friend of art, a member of the Domcapitel. This information appears even more trustworthy since the style which predominates the painting is the style of the Italian school and firstly recalls Giulio Romano. He probably created this work shortly after returning from Italy when he still had the lively impressions of his local studies in mind." [translation]
The subject of the battle of the virtues against the vices goes back to the 4th century and is present to the modern era. The trizonal structure of the painting recalls compositions of the Last Judgement. The division of the spaces is also influenced by the medieval painting type where the "good" are depicted on the left side whereas the "damned" are shown on the right side of the painting. Another element that fits into this interpretation is the fact that the beautiful female half figure at the lower left margin is not part of the group of the "damned", but instead she makes aware of the inscription by leaning over the railing in order to read it. According to Ost this inscription can be seen as an evidence for Otto van Veens authorial, scholarly, text-oriented interest as a pictor doctus. The motif of the painting itself has its origin in the letter of Paul to the Ephesians in the bible: Eph.6, 10-17.
Otto van Veen worked at the court of the prince-bishop of Liège, Gerard von Groesbeck, in
Rome, at the Prague Court of Emperor Rudolf II. and at the Munich Court of the Wittelsbacher before he finally came to Cologne in 1583 where he became court painter of the Cologne elector Ernst of Bavaria. Most probably his inspiration for this painting originates from the time spent in Italy. A large Chiaroscuro xylograph by Andrea Andreani served him as a model for his work. In turn Andrea Andreani states in a text concerning his depiction that his work refers to a drawing by Battista Franco which seems lost at the present day. Furthermore he copied the monogram BF at the lower margin. While Merlo dates the painting to 1585, Ost offers convincing arguments for a later date, ca. 1609-1629. On the upper stretcher verso there is an adhesive label marked: "Cabinet de tableaux J. Merlo". Verso the canvas is labeled "No. 8" and on the lower frame there is the inscription "MC Witthoff a Cologne".

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351: Fine Art

Van Ham Kunstauktionen
May 15, 2015, 2:30 PM CET

Köln (Cologne), Germany

Buyer's Premium

€0 - 250,000: 31.0%
€250,001+: 28.0%

From: To: Increment:
€0 €299 €20
€300 €329 €30
€330 €349 €20
€350 €379 €30
€380 €399 €20
€400 €429 €30
€430 €449 €20
€450 €479 €30
€480 €499 €20
€500 €999 €50
€1,000 €1,999 €100
€2,000 €2,999 €200
€3,000 €3,299 €300
€3,300 €3,499 €200
€3,500 €3,799 €300
€3,800 €3,999 €200
€4,000 €4,299 €300
€4,300 €4,499 €200
€4,500 €4,799 €300
€4,800 €4,999 €200
€5,000 €9,999 €500
€10,000 €19,999 €1,000
€20,000 €29,999 €2,000
€30,000 €32,999 €3,000
€33,000 €34,999 €2,000
€35,000 €37,999 €3,000
€38,000 €39,999 €2,000
€40,000 €42,999 €3,000
€43,000 €44,999 €2,000
€45,000 €47,999 €3,000
€48,000 €49,999 €2,000
€50,000 €199,999 €5,000
€200,000 €299,999 €10,000
€300,000+ €20,000

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Due to lack of storing capacity we are compelled to put items which
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Conditions of Sale
case of intent or gross negligence. A bidder shall remain bound by a bid that has been conditionally accepted for a period of one month. A conditionally accepted bid shall only become effective if VAN HAM confirms the bid in writing within one month from the date of the auction.

5. Purchase Price and Payment
5.1 The buyer shall pay the bid price plus a premium of 28% on the first € 250,000 and a premium of 25% on all sums exceeding this amount. This includes statutory VAT, which will, however, not be listed separately due to the margin scheme as per § 25a UStG (German Sales Tax Act). A premium of 24% on the first € 250,000 of the bid price and of 21% on all sums exceeding this amount shall be levied on items listed in the appendix as subject to standard taxation. Statutory VAT of currently 19% on the total of the bid price and the premium.
5.2 Objects, that have been imported from outside the EU to be sold at auction under Temporary Admission, are listed in the appendix of the printed catalogue. When VAN HAM releases such property to the buyer, he/she will become the importer and must pay VANHAM's import VAT of currently 7 % to VAN HAM. These lots will be invoiced under the margin scheme. By the recharging of the import sales tax the buyer's premium increases to 36% for the first € 250,000 and to 33% for the exceeding amount. The import sales tax as such is not separately identified. Upon request immediately after the auction the invoice for these objects can be made out with regular taxation. The value added tax can then entitle to deduct pre-tax or be refunded with an export certificate for a third country.
5.3 Pursuant to § 26 ss.1 of the German Copyright Act (UrhG), the Seller is obliged to pay the droit de suite (resale rights tax) on the sales proceeds of all original works of art and original photographic works whose creators died less than 70 years before completion of the sale, where such works were sold via VAN HAM. The buyer shall bear a portion of this in the form of a lump-sum charge amounting to:

1.5% of the hammer price up to € 200,000

0.5% of the hammer price in excess of € 200,001 up to € 350,000

0.25% of the hammer price in excess of € 350,001 up to € 500,000

0.125% of the hammer price in excess of this price up to five million, up to a maximum of € 6,250.

5.4 For buyers entitled to deduct input tax, the invoice may, upon request (and after prior notification) be made out in line with standard taxation. VAT is not levied on shipments to third countries (i.e. outside the EU) nor on shipments to companies in EU member states, provided the VAT ID number is stated. If participants in an auction transfer purchased items to third countries themselves, they shall be reimbursed for VAT as soon as proof of export and purchase has been provided to VAN HAM.
5.5 Invoices issued during or immediately after an auction must be verified; errors remain excepted to this extent.
5.6 Payment of the total amount due upon acceptance of a bid shall be made in cash or by bank certified cheque. Cheques shall only be accepted on account of performance. Any taxes, costs, transfer or encashment fees (including any bank fees charged to VAN HAM) shall be borne by the buyer. Buyers who participate in the auction in person shall pay the purchase price to VAN HAM immediately after their bid is accepted. Without prejudice to the fact that payment is due immediately, bids made in absentia may be paid within 14 days of the invoice date without being deemed to be in default.
Auctioned items shall, as a matter of principle, only be handed over after full payment of all amounts owed by the buyer has been received.

Collection and Assumption of Risk

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One month after default has occurred, VAN HAM shall be entitled and, upon the consignor's request, required to disclose the buyer's name and address to the consignor.

Privacy Statement

The bidder hereby agrees to the bidder's name, address and purchases being stored electronically and processed by VAN HAM for the purpose of fulfilling and performing the contractual relationship, and for the purpose of providing information about future auctions and offers. Should the bidder fail to meet its contractual obligations within the scope of fulfilling and performing this contractual relationship, the bidder consents to this fact being included in a blacklist accessible to all auction houses of the German Association of Art Auctioneers (Bundesverband Deutscher Kunstversteigerer e.V.). The future collection and use of data may be objected to by deleting this clause or by submitting a relevant statement to VAN HAM at a later date, with effect for the future.
10. Silent Auction
VAN HAM shall conduct a so-called "silent auction" for the items listed at the end of the catalogue and marked with "+". These General Auction Terms shall apply accordingly to such "silent auctions"; however, bidders may only bid in written form or via the internet. Since the items in "silent auctions" are not called out, no bids can be made in person or by telephone. Bids for a "silent auction" must be submitted to VAN HAM in writing at least 24 hours before the start of the auction in order to be valid; in the remainder please refer to Clause 3.
11. Miscellaneous Provisions
11.1 These General Auction Terms shall govern all relations between the buyer and VAN HAM. The buyer's general commercial terms and conditions shall not be valid. No subsidiary oral agreements have been made. Any amendments shall be made in writing.
11.2 The place of performance and place of jurisdiction for business transactions shall exclusively be Cologne. German law shall apply; the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) shall not apply.
11.3 The aforementioned provisions shall also apply mutatis mutandis to the private sale of items consigned for auction and, in particular, to post-sales, which are not governed by the provisions on distance sales as they form part of the respective auctions.
11.4 In the event that any of the above provisions are invalid in whole or in part, the validity of the remaining provisions shall be unaffected. The invalid provision shall be replaced by a valid provision which most closely resembles the commercial content of the invalid provision. This applies correspondingly if the contract contains a gap in need of amendment. In cases of doubt the German version of the General Auction Terms shall prevail. Translations into other languages merely serve as a guide.
Van Ham Kunstauktionen GmbH & Co. KG Hitzelerstrasse 2, 50968 Cologne, Germany District court Cologne, HR A 375 General Partner: Van Ham Kunstauktionen Verwaltung GmbH District court Cologne, HR B 80313 Manager: Markus Eisenbeis (publicly appointed and sworn auctioneer for arts and antiques)
7. Retention of Title, Set-off, Right of Retention
7.1 The title to an item acquired by auction shall only pass to the buyer upon full receipt


Payment of the total amount due upon acceptance of a bid shall be made in cash or by bank certified cheque. Cheques shall only be accepted on account of performance. Any taxes, costs, transfer or encashment fees (including any bank fees charged to VAN HAM) shall be borne by the buyer. Buyers who participate in the auction in person shall pay the purchase price to VAN HAM immediately after their bid is accepted. Without prejudice to the fact that payment is due immediately, bids made in absentia may be paid within 14 days of the invoice date without being deemed to be in default. Please note that there is an additional Online-Transaction-Fee for the Invaluable-Online-Bidders of 3%.

Shipping Terms

Auction House will help arrange shipment, at buyer's expense

Explanations to the Catalogue

Bronzes & Sculptures
Indication of the artist refers to intellectual authorship of the model; the castings may also have been made after the artist's death. Materials other than bronze (zinc, galvanoplastic copper, terra-cotta, etc.) are expressly listed. Size stated in centimetres excluding base.

Dimensions are listed in the following order: height, breadth, deepness. Dimensions for paper works refer to the size of the sheet of paper.

Measurements are valid as follows: Height, Width, Depth; they are given in cm. measures of graphical works refer to the actual size of the representations respectively the plate size for etchings and engravings as far as not mentioned otherwise. Measurements in brackets "( )" refer to the paper size.

General References
The description of the works of art has been given greatest care. Main defiviencies are mentioned in the catalogue. The condition of the objects is always being considered in the estimated price.

Since the catalogue text normally contains no particulars about the condition of medium, substrate and frame, we will be happy to provide you further information upon request. No liability can be accepted for frames.

Name ohne Zusatz
(Name without addition)
In our opinion undoubtedly a work of the stated artist.

In our opinion probably wholly or partly a work of the stated artist.

In our opinion from the workshop of the stated artist, presumably under his supervision.

In our opinion a contemporary work showing the influence of the stated artist.

In our opinion a work in the style of the stated artist, but not necessarily by a pupil of his.

Art des
(style of)
In our opinion a work in the style of the stated artist from a later period.

In our opinion a copy of a work of the stated artist.

Painting title in "..."
In our opinion the work was personally titled by the artist.

In our opinion the work was personally signed and/or dated by the artist.

In our opinion the work was signed/dated by someone else later.

Each condition report which has been made available by VAN HAM Fine Art Auctions is the opinion of our experts and does not constitute any claim of guarantee by VAN HAM Fine Art Auctions.

Please Note
The catalogue information is a partial reproduction of the text contained in VAN HAM's published catalogue for the sale for which you have requested access and is available to our visitors for their convenience. Certain important information and notices contained in the published catalogue may not be included in the catalogue text available online. Please note that the published version of the catalogue constitutes the original source material for the catalogue information you have requested. To the extent that there is any difference between the published catalogue and the catalogue information available to you on-line, the terms of the published catalogue will prevail. The text contained on this site may be modified at any time during the pre-sale pe-riod, lots may be added or withdrawn and important announcements concerning lots or the terms under which they are offered may be made or circulated to bidders at the actual auction. VAN HAM is not responsible for any errors or omissions contained in the catalogue material you have requested. The catalogue information may be a-mended by written notice posted during the exhibition prior to the sale or by an oral announcement made during the sale. VAN HAM retains exclusive copyright to the catalogue information you have re-quested. You may not duplicate or otherwise reproduce the catalogue information without the express written permission of VAN HAM.

Buyer's premium and Taxes

The buyer shall pay the bid price plus a premium of 28% on the first €250,000 and a premium of 25% on all sums exceeding this amount. This includes statutory VAT, which will, however, not be listed separately due to the margin scheme as per § 25a UStG (German Sales Tax Act). A premium of 24% on the first €250,000 of the bid price and of 21% on all sums exceeding this amount shall be levied on items listed in the appendix as subject to standard taxation. Statutory VAT of 19% shall be levied on the total of the bid price and the premium. Please note that the reduced VAT rate of 7% from 2014 will no longer apply. For individuals who are entitled to deduct VAT, there is generally the possibility of the VAT identification. We ask for written notice prior to invoicing. Please note that there is an additional Online-Transaction-Fee for the Invaluable-Online-Bidders of 3%.