Frans Verbeeck’s The Mocking of Human Follies (c.1560) was sold at auction last night in Vienna for a staggering £2.3 million. The sum is an all-time record for the artist. It also marks one of the highest selling prices ever achieved at an Austrian auction.
The auction of the masterpiece took place last night at the Viennese headquarters of the Dorotheum’s auction house. The Verbeeck painting is said to have caused quite a stir at the auction house’s Old Master Paintings sale. According to the Austrian newspaper The Local, the painting had a presale estimate of between £709,000 to £945,000. It is reported that the work was sold to an unnamed Flemish bidder – after a hard-fought bidding war.
The painting is ‘The Mocking of Human Follies’ and is considered as one of the most important works from the Verbeeck family studio. The work, is a satire of human foolishness; and has a similar style to the artist’s fellow Flemish Old Masters, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel. The painting depicts a multitude of characters engaged in bizarre and nonsensical activities, with the intention of illustrating the dangers and joys of human folly.
The Verbeeck dynasty of painters were a group of Flemish artists that include Frans’ brother Jan, as well as their sons. Yet the authentication of the artworks painted by the Verbeeck family has always been a highly complicated issue, as the family of painters all worked together in the same workshop.
However, ‘The Mocking of Human Follies’ has been attributed specifically to Frans Verbeeck by a number of experts in several art journals and exhibition catalogues published from the 1980’s onwards – according to the Dorotheum auction catalogue.
The painting, a satire of human foolishness in a style reminiscent of fellow Flemish Old Masters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel, depicts a multitude of characters engaged in bizarre and nonsensical activities, illustrating the dangers and joys of human folly.