A Roman Market

Willem Reuter (Flemish, 1642-1681)
Oil on canvas 
46-3/4 x 76 in. (118.7 x 193.0 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

Willem Reuter’s panoramic market scene is animated with multiple tableaus: a fallen cache of fragile crockery, a beggar accepting alms, and a commedia dell’arte performance, among many. Each event is legible, however, thanks to the artist’s rigorous design: the vertically-oriented buildings provide stability to the composed figural groupings loosely arranged throughout the piazza from background to foreground. A strong raking light further clarifies the figures and their interactions.

Such carefully orchestrated compositions, in combination with colorful depictions of every-day life, were highly appreciated by aristocratic collectors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Brussels-born Reuter lived among the Dutch and Flemish artists in Rome who specialized in making these picturesque subjects. Their paintings earned them the title of Bambocciati, or “ugly dolls,” in reference to their ostensibly lowlife subjects.


Anonymous (sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, 1 June 1967, lot 9, ill., as attributed to Michelangelo Cerquozzi, Marché sur une place publique).
[P & D Colnaghi, London, 1968];
[Herner Wengraf Ltd., London, 1971];
[P & D Colnaghi, London, consigned 1978 to];
[Hoogsteder Gallery, The Hague].
Dr. T. Praalder, The Netherlands (sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 8 January 1981, lot 81, ill., as A Roman Market, sold to);
Norton Simon, by bequest to;
Jennifer Jones Simon Art Trust, to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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