Warning against luxury and overindulgence, this alleogorical grisaille depicting the Mirror of Time relates to a larger, finished painting by De Backer recently on the art market (Sotheby's, New York, 6 June 2012, lot 17), as well as to a print by Hieronymus Wierix published by Godevaard van Haecht (see E. Leuschner, 'Defining De Backer,' Gazette des Beaux-Arts 137, no. 1587, April 2001, fig. 25). As with De Backer's Madonna and Child with Saint John in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. 2002.88), the precise function of this grisaille in Backer's working process is unknown. It may have served as a preparatory study, or it could be a record of a completed painting, or a finished work in its own right (see E. Leuschner, 'A Grisaille Oil Sketch from the 'De Backer Group' and Workshop Practices in Sixteenth-Century Antwerp,' Metropolitan Museum Journal 43, 2008, p. 101).
Leonard J. Slatkes, New York, until 2003 (†), from whom acquired by the present owner.