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Antwerp ca.1597–1637

Theodoor Rombouts is the primary Flemish exponent of Caravaggesque painting and his work parallels that of his northern contemporaries from Utrecht. He was born in Antwerp and trained with the more classical artist Abraham Jansens (1567–1632) before leaving for Rome in 1616. He is documented there until 1625. He may also have worked for Cosimo II de’Medici in Florence. During his stay in Italy, Rombouts produced a series of lively dramatic scenes indebted to the work of Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582–1622), often depicting Card Players, Fortune Tellers and Musicians in the Roman Caravaggesque manner. His best-known works show horizontal groups, though he also produced single figures of musicians and bravos drinking, possibly intended as allegories of the senses.

In 1625 Rombouts returned to Antwerp where he became master of the Guild of St Luke. He continued to produce secular works for private patrons as well as altarpieces. By the 1630s the interest in Caravaggism was in decline and Rombouts adopted a lighter tone with less dramatic contrasts. He also came under the influence of the late style of Rubens (1577–1640) who he assisted on the decorations for the ephemeral Pompa Introitus Ferdinandi of 1635.


Top Auction Results for Theodoor Rombouts

Figures eating and drinking around a table
Sold for £177,500 ($299,729)
London, Sotheby’s, 3 July 1997, Old Master Paintings, lot 226

A woman and three men seated around a table playing cards
Sold for $59,375
New York, Sotheby’s, 9 June 2011, Old Master Paintings & Sculpture, lot 82

Les Joueurs de Cartes
Sold for 280,00 FF ($49,795)
Paris, Ader, Tajan, 22 June 1990, Important Tableaux Anciens, lot 55


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