Adam de Coster and Workshop(Mechelen circa 1586-1643 Antwerp) The Denial of Saint Peter, oil on canvas, 89 x 124 cm, framed ÜBERLANGTEXT
Private collection, Courtrai, 1950
D. Roggen, Het Caravaggisme te Gent, in: Gentse Bijdragen tot kunstgeschiedenis, deel XII, 1950, p. 258, reproduced p. 256, (as Gerard Seghers);
L. Vertova and B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, 2nd edition, vol. I, Turin 1990, p. 174, no. 1426, (as copy after Seghers);
A. Delvingt, Le Caravagesque flamand Adam de Coster, in: Propositions d’identification et de datation autour de son activité picturale anversoise, Annale d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Archéologie, Université libre de Bruxelles, XLI, 2019, p. 109 and note 59
We are grateful to Anne Delvingt for confirming the attribution to Adam de Coster and workshop after examining the present picture in the original.
The present work is an original treatment of The Denial of Saint Peter from the hand of Adam de Coster and his workshop. De Coster was an accomplished Flemish follower of Caravaggio who was active in Antwerp. Two other depictions of the subject by de Coster are known. The first, sold at Christie’s, London, 3 December 2014, lot 172, exhibits strong similarities to the present work, particularly in the costumes of the two central figures and the device of the female accuser shielding the flame of the candle with the palm of her hand. The head of Saint Peter in the Christie’s picture is reversed compared to the present composition, but the handling of that figure is redolent of the current canvas. The second, sold at Sotheby’s, New York, 5 June 2008, lot 58, followed a different compositional scheme but equally employs the characteristically dramatic lighting effects that led to de Coster being dubbed a Pictor Noctium.
These treatments of The Denial of Saint Peter were originally thought to be in the orbit of Gerard Seghers and were catalogued as such by Benedict Nicholson. However, Gianni Papi and Anne Delvingt have comprehensively identified them as the invention of de Coster. Indeed, one of de Coster’s related versions to the present work was in the renowned collection of the Antwerp spice merchant Cornelis van der Geest.