This magnificent image is by the Flemish artist Willem van Haecht (1593 – 1637). Painted in 1628, it is known as The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest.
Van Haecht spent the last decade of his short life as the curator of Van der Geest’s art collection. The gallery shows 43 paintings (among other treasures) of which 24 are known and identified today.
One painting that doesn’t appear to be attributed to any artist is a depiction of St Peter, located in the top row where the two walls meet. The reason for this is that there isn’t an original, lost or undiscovered, other than this image itself, and so most likely by Van Haecht’s own hand.
Peter was the disciple on which Jesus said he would build his Church. His portrait is placed as a heavenly cornerstone, a rock of faith, on which the Church stands, and as a witness to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The painting is of Peter being raised by angels and experiencing his own joyous entry into heaven. .
Before becoming curator to Van der Geest’s art collection in 1628, Van Haecht spent seven years in Italy. It is this connection which reveals a major narrative disguised in the Gallery painting that links to Botticelli’s paintings of the Birth of Venus and Primavera.
I intend to explain more on this in future posts after I have completed my presentations on the Birth of Venus and Primavera, but in the meantime, notice the angel supporting or buttressing the ’Leaning Tower of Peter’ (see previous post).