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Jan van de Cappelle (1624 - 1679)

Lot 16: Jan van de Cappelle (1625/6-1679)

Christie's

July 4, 1997
London, United Kingdom

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Description

A winter Landscape with Skaters and Colf Players on a frozen Waterway signed and dated 'I V Cappelle 1653' (lower left) oil on canvas 19 x 22.1/8in. (48.3 x 56.2cm.) PROVENANCE J. Henderson, 3 Montague Street, Russell Square, London, by 1857. Jean-Louis MiŠville, 103 Lancaster Gate, London; (+) Christie's, 29 April 1899, lot 57 (460gns. to Colnaghi). P.A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park (Philadelphia), by 1913; sale, Muller, Amsterdam, 10 July 1923, lot 107. with J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam ( Hollandische winterlandschappen uit de 17de eeuw, 1932, no. 23). with Hans Schaeffer, New York ( The Great Dutch Masters, 1-30 Dec. 1936, no. 3, illustrated). LITERATURE G.F. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, p. 207, 'This is quite a new aspect of this great marine painter, who shows equal eminence in this line. A profound feeling for nature is here combined with delicate drawing and an astonishing truthfulness in every part - as, for instance, the effect of the frosty fog, the shadows of the clouds, and the surface of the ice.' C. Hofstede de Groot and W.R. Valentiner, Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, Early German, Dutch and Flemish Schools, Philadelphia, 1913, illustrated. C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonn‚, etc., VII, London, 1923, p. 201, no. 157 and p. 205, no. 168 'A very good picture'. W. Stechow, šber das Verh„ltnis zwischen Signatur und Chronologie bei einigen h”llandischen Knstlern des 17. Jahrhunderts, Fetschrift Dr. Eduard Traulscholdt, Hamburg, 1965, p. 115. W. Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1966, p. 96. M. Russell, Jan van de Cappelle, Leigh-on-Sea, 1975, pp. 30-2, 35, 85 and 87, fig. 25. S. Nijstad in the catalogue of the exhibition R‚flets du SiŠcle d'Or. Tableaux Hollandais du dix-SeptiŠme siŠcle. Collection Frits Lugt. Fondation Custodia, Paris, Institut N‚erlandais, 10 Mar.-30 Apr. 1983, p. 34, under no. 19. P.C. Sutton in the catalogue of the exhibition Masters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2 Oct. 1987-31 July 1988, p, 286, under no. 18, note 2. EXHIBITION New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Hudson Fulton Celebration, 1909, I, no. 4, illustrated (catalogue by W.R. Valentiner). Lugano-Castagnola, Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation, on loan, before 1975. Madrid, Fundaci¢n Colecci¢n Thyssen-Bornemisza, The Golden Age of Dutch Landscape Painting, 7 Oct.-20 Feb. 1995, pp. 94-5, no. 16, illustrated in colour (catalogue by P.C. Sutton). NOTES Probably the most remarkable aspect of Jan van de Cappelle's astonishing career is the fact that he was apparently self-taught: his friend, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, described him in 1654 in the Album Amicorum Jacobus Heyblocq (now in the Royal Library at the Hague) as 'bij hem selfs uijt eygen lust geleert' - 'who taught himself to paint out of his own desire' (Russell, op. cit., pp. 10 and 48). Van de Cappelle was never under pressure to establish a reputation or to paint for a living. The son of the owner of a thriving Amsterdam dyeworks, he married a wealthy woman, lived on the elegant Keizersgracht and had his portrait painted by Rembrandt and Frans Hals. On his death he left a fortune of 92,000 guilders, substantial real estate and an exceptional art collection, including six paintings and 500 drawings by Rembrandt (of which nearly 300 were landscape drawings), 400 drawings by van Goyen and nearly 900 by Avercamp. Jan van de Cappelle's fame as one of the most accomplished painters of seventeenth century Holland is based primarily on his seascapes, which outnumber his winter scenes by at least as much as four to one. Margarita Russell notes that less than fifty winter landscapes were ever known, but stresses that very few of those listed by Hofstede de Groot (his nos. 143-180) can still be accounted for. Wolfgang Stechow and Peter Sutton, loc. cit., give that number as fewer than two dozen, of which only about half a dozen bear dates, pointing out that these are restricted to the years 1652 and 1653. Hofstede de Groot (his no. 159) recorded a 'very good' winter scene by the artist as being dated 1644, but he had not seen it and, unfortunately, it remains untraced. The date of 1653 on the present picture coincides with the year when, according to Russell ( ibid., p. 30), the artist painted 'some of the finest winter scenes', including those in the Frits Lugt Collection at the Institut N‚erlandais, Paris and the Mauritshuis, The Hague ( ibid., figs. 23 and 24). Closely related to these are the undated pictures in the Rijksmusuem, Amsterdam and the Ashetton-Bennett Collection at the Manchester City Art Gallery ( ibid., figs. 26 and 27). That van de Cappelle was inspired by the winter landscapes of Aert van der Neer, van de Cappelle's elder by some twenty years, is undeniable, but, as Stechow argues ( op. cit., p. 95), the latter's contributions to this realm all but overshadow the older master's works..., not so much in effects of luminosity as in subtlety and harmoniousness of composition and colour combination, and most conspicuously in his capacity for reticence and poetical understatement'. Margartita Russell observes that the 'greater subtlety of light and colour observed in Aert van der Neer's late winter scenes may well owe something to the example of the younger artist who, in his turn, had certainly been initially stimulated by the compositions of van der Neer' ( op. cit, pp. 39-40). In comparing the present picture to van der Neer's 'intimate' Frozen River Landscape, Evening in the National Gallery, London, Stechow maintains that it demonstrates 'greater restraint, greater originality of structure, subtler balance and a more glorious sky, the reflection of which on the ice is less obvious and more delicate than that of van der Neer' ( op. cit., p. 96). The present picture shares an almost identical composition with the Lugt picture mentioned above, but with slight, although not insignificant, variations in the placement of the figures and boats as well as in tonality and overall mood. The bridge featured in both, but particularly in the present picture, shows a strong affinity with a print in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam (fig. A), which, although not etched by the artist himself (only one known etching exists with an unchallenged attribution to van de Cappelle), is undoubtedly based on one of his paintings or drawings (Russell, op. cit., p. 35). Intriguingly, as Russell has already pointed out ( ibid., pp. 35 and 37), this motif seems to have been inspired by Rembrandt's painting The Stone Bridge or Landscape near Ouderkerk, datable to the late 1630s, in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (fig. B), where the diagonal sweep of the bridge appears in reverse from the left. This 'borrowing' of motifs, however, seems to be the only instance of it in van de Cappelle's art. The original tacking edge of the canvas is intact and the picture demonstrates a number of facets of the artist's technique. The sky is painted with exceptional freedom, while grey priming is left to serve as the ground to the belt of trees on the right.

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July 4, 1997, 12:00 AM EST

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