Adriaen Coorte (Middelburg (?) 1660 (?) - after 1707), Wild strawberries on a ledge. Signed and dated lower left: A Coorte/1704. Oil on paper, laid down on panel. Signed and dated lower left on the ledge: A Coorte/ 1704, 5 3/8 by 6 1/2 in.; 13.5 by 16.5 cm. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 USD. Lot sold 2,050,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s will present the sale of The Weldon Collection, a remarkable collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings assembled by the late Henry and June “Jimmy” Weldon over a period of several decades. Consummate and celebrated collectors across numerous categories, including Asian Art and Staffordshire pottery, the Weldons took great care with every acquisition and numerous American institutions have benefitted greatly from generous gifts over the years. Their collecting journey began in the 1950s with an initial focus on 17th century Dutch and Flemish pictures, seeking out works by Balthasar Van der Ast, Rachel Ruysch and Salomon van Ruysdael. Over the years, as their taste broadened, they added remarkable gems including an early still life by the German artist Ludger Tom Ring the Elder, a pair of paintings by Jean-Antoine Watteau and an extraordinary collaborative work by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger. Yet, their love of the Dutch Golden Age remained a constant with masterworks by Hendrick Avercamp and Aelbert Cuyp entering the collection within the last decade. Together, the collection of more than 70 works is estimated in the region of $25 million. The collection with be on view 17 - 21 April 2015 at the York Avenue headquarters.
The Weldon's interest in collecting paintings by the great Dutch and Flemish masters was sparked in 1951 by one of Willem van Aelst’s early works. Entitled Peaches, a Plum, and Grapes on a Ledge (est. $60/80,000), the couple bought the painting for $16 at a small auction in New York. Upon cleaning it, the Weldons discovered it was signed and dated by Van Aelst, and with the thrill of that discovery was born a lifetime of collecting. This charming still life's use of muted colors suggests the influence Ambrosius Bosschaert and Balthasar van der Ast in the artist's work.
Lot 70. Willem van Aelst (Delft 1627 - in or after 1683 Amsterdam(?), Peaches, a Plum, and Grapes on a Ledge. Signed and dated on the ledge: W. V. aelst. Ao. 1646. Oil on copper mounted on panel, 6 7/8 by 9 in.; 17.3 by 22.8 cm. Estimate 60,000 — 80,000 USD. Lot Sold 68,750 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Possibly Pallavicini collection, Budapest;
Mrs. Lawrence Broderick;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 23 July 1924, lot 61;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 9 February 1925, included in lot 57;
Purchased at a small auction in New York, circa 1951.
Exhibited: Providence 1964, no. 1;
New York, Finch College 1966, no. 1;
Zurich, David Koetser Gallery, Fine Old Master Paintings Principally of the Dutch and Flemish Schools, 1990-1991, cat. no 13 (on loan);
New Orleans 1997, no. 1;
Baltimore 1999, no. 1;
Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, and Washington, National Gallery of Art, Elegance and Refinement, The Still-Life Paintings of Willem van Aelst, 11 March – 14 October 2012, no. 1.
Literature: Providence 1964, cat. no. 1, reproduced fig. 1;
New Orleans 1997, p. 2, cat. no. 1, reproduced p. 3;
Baltimore 1999, p. 2, cat. no. 1, reproduced p. 3;
T. Paul in Elegance and Refinement, The Still-Life Paintings of Willem van Aelst, exhibition catalogue Houston and Washington 2012, p. 93, cat. no. 1, reproduced.
Note: This very early work by Van Aelst has a simplicity and intimacy that set it apart from his later, more ornate compositions. As such it reflects the influence of Ambrosius Bosschaert and Balthasar van der Ast, the latter of whom moved to Delft in 1632. The muted coloring and brushwork also reveal the influence of the these artists working in the Middelburg style. Using a remarkable economy of means, he differentiates the smooth, translucent skin of the grapes from the fuzzy skin of the peach.
Van Aelst left Delft for France in 1645 or 1646, so he would have painted the present work shortly before he left or early in his stay in France. Later in his career he relished devising more complex compositions with brighter colors and stronger lighting and also became famous for his game pieces. However, this small copper, with its restricted scope and palette, directly appeals to the contemporary viewer.
A number of small, jewel-like paintings, which lined the walls of the Weldon's Park Avenue apartment, are present throughout the sale including a beautiful work by Adriaen Coorte - Wild strawberries on a ledge (est. $800,000/1,200,000). While Coorte's still lifes often depict fruit, nuts, vegetables or shells on a stone ledge set against a plain dark background, one of his favorite subjects was wild strawberries (fragaria vesca). Known to have created nearly sixty-four paintings, the still life offered in The Weldon Collection is one of only three illustrating the strawberries as uncontained and casually piled on the corner of a stone ledge. Having fallen into obscurity in the 18th and 19th centuries, Coorte resurfaced when the first catalogue of the artist’s work was published in 1952-53 by Laurens Bol, ultimately securing his reputation as one of the foremost Netherlandish still life painters.
Lot 67. Adriaen Coorte (Middelburg (?) 1660 (?) - after 1707), Wild strawberries on a ledge. Signed and dated lower left: A Coorte/1704. Oil on paper, laid down on panel. Signed and dated lower left on the ledge: A Coorte/ 1704, 5 3/8 by 6 1/2 in.; 13.5 by 16.5 cm. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 USD. Lot sold 2,050,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: S. Gratama, Arnhem;
By whom bequeathed to the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1932;
By whom sold in 1960 to H. Terry-Engell Gallery, London;
Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987), London;
By whom sold ("The Property of Eliot Hodgkin, Esq."), London, Sotheby's, 12 April 1978, lot 12, to Brod;
With Alfred Brod Gallery, London;
Felix Fostel, Lugano, by 1979;
Ferdinand Knecht, Zurich;
David Koetser, 1996.
Exhibited: Zurich, Kunsthaus, Unbekannte Schönheit: Bedeutende Werke aus fünf Jahrhunderten, 9 June - 31 July 1956, no. 68 (as on panel);
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Adriaen Coorte: Stillevenschilder, 2 August - 28 September 1958, no. 13;
London, H. Terry-Engel Gallery, Silent World: Exhibition of Still-Life Paintings by Old Masters, 25 October - 3 December 1960, no. 11;
Osaka, Nabio Museum of Art; Tokyo, Tokyo Station Gallery; Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Flowers and Nature: Netherlandish Flower Painting of Four Centuries, 20 April - 28 October 1990, no. 58;
New Orleans 1997, no. 14;
Baltimore 1999, no. 13;
Albany, Albany Institute of History & Art, Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in 17th-Century Dutch Art and Life, 20 September - 8 December 2002, no. 20;
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Small Wonders: Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte, 29 June - 28 September 2003, no. 12;
The Hague, Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis, Ode To Coorte, The still lifes of Adriaen Coorte, 23 February - 8 June 2008, no. 56.
Literature: Mededeelingen van den Dienst voor Kunsten en Wetenschappen der Gemeente 's-Gravenhage, vol. 3, 1933, p. 74, cat. no. 5;
G. Knuttel, Gemeentemuseum te 's Gravenhage: Catalogus van de schilderijen, aquarellen en teekeningen, The Hague 1935, p. 48, cat. nos. 14-32;
J.G. van Gelder, Ashmolean Museum: Catalogue of the Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-Life Pictures Bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Oxford 1950, p. 69;
L.J. Bol, "Adriaan S. Coorte, stillevenschilder," in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol. 4, 1952-1953, pp. 202, 220-221, cat. no. 43;
P.T.A. Swillens, Schilderslexicon, Utrecht 1957, p. 77;
L.J. Bol, in Adriaen Coorte: Stillevenschilder, exhibition catalogue, Dordrecht 1958, cat. no. 13, reproduced;
W. Bernt, Die niederländischen Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts, Munich 1962, vol. 4, cat. no. 56, reproduced;
L.J. Bol, Adriaen Coorte: A Unique Late Seventeenth Dutch Still-Life Painter, Assen 1977, pp. 8, 9, 15, note 27, 29 57 cat. no. 62;
C. Wright, ed., Paintings in Dutch Museums: An Index of Oil Paintings in Public Collections in The Netherlands by Artists born before 1870, London 1980, p. 81;
S. Segal, in Flowers and Nature: Netherlandish Flower Painting of Four Centuries, exhibition catalogue, Osaka, Toyko and Sydney 1990, p. 226, cat. no. 58;
P. Hecht, "Een Coorte voor Middelburg," in Kunstschrift, vol. 35, 1991, p. 9, reproduced;
Pick of the Bunch: A loan exhibition of flower and still life paintings from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, including works from the Broughton bequest, exhibition catalogue, London 1993, p. 38;
New Orleans 1997, pp. 34-36, cat. no. 14, reproduced;
Baltimore 1999, pp. 35-36, cat. no. 13, reproduced;
D.R. Barnes and P.G. Rose, in Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in 17th-Century Dutch Art and Life, Albany 2002, pp. 8, 68, cat. no. 20, reproduced p. 69;
A. Wheelock, in Small Wonders: Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C. 2003, p. 11, cat. no. 12, reproduced fig. 3;
P. Hecht, in Vom Adel der Malerei: Holland um 1700/De kroon op het werk: Hollandse schilderkunst 1670-1750, exhibition catalogue, Cologne, Dordrecht and Kassel 2006, p. 24, reproduced fig. 17;
Q. Buvelot, The still lifes of Adriaen Coorte (active c. 1683-1707) With oeuvre catalogue, The Hague 2008, pp. 32, 114, cat. no. 56, p. 131, no. XXX, reproduced p. 40, fig. 29, and p. 115, fig. 56.
Note: Coorte's deceptively simple still lifes depicting fruit, nuts, vegetables and shells, set against a plain dark background, are enormously appealing to the modern eye. Having fallen into obscurity in the 18th and 19th centuries, the first catalogue of the artist’s work was published in 1952-53 by Laurens Bol (see Literature). That publication and Bol’s subsequent exhibition of twenty- one of Coorte’s paintings at the Dordrechts Museum in 1958, (see Exhibited) brought the artist back into the public’s consciousness and secured his reputation as one of the most distinctive and original Netherlandish still life painters.
The details of Coorte’s life are largely unknown; even the years of his birth and death remain a mystery, though he is thought to have been a native of Middelburg in Zeeland. Dated paintings by the artist range from the years 1683-1705. His earliest works feature birds in landscapes and are so close in style to the works of Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636-1695) that it has led to speculation that Coorte may have worked with him in Amsterdam.1 Bol’s research revealed that between 1700 and 1900, most works by Coorte were to be found in collections in Middelburg and its vicinity leading to the conclusion that this is where the artist spent the greater part of his career.2 In addition, in a written record from the yearbooks for 1695-96 of the painters Guild of Saint Luke in Middelburg, it is noted that an artist referred to as “Coorde” was fined for selling paintings in that city without being a guild member. By that date, Coorte had been an active painter for at least 13 years and it is curious that he would not have been a member of the painters guild. From this, some scholars have deduced that, perhaps, Coorte was a gentleman painter or amateur.3 Certainly, in his mature style, he does not show the marked influence of other artists, and the restraint and simplicity of his compositions is at odds with the more opulent still life paintings that were the prevailing fashion of the time.
Today, Coorte’s known oeuvre consists of about sixty-four paintings. Many of his compositions, like the present one, depict natural objects set on a stone ledge against a dark background. One of his favorite subjects was wild strawberries (fragaria vesca) which he included in no less than eighteen paintings. Sometimes they were combined with other fruits and vegetables, such as gooseberries and asparagus. In other paintings they are the central focus, most often depicted in a small earthenware bowl and, more infrequently, in a blue and white Wan-Li porcelain bowl. Only three paintings, including the present one, depict the strawberries uncontained and casually piled on the corner of a stone ledge.4 The other two, one dated 1700 (whereabouts unkown) and the other dated 1705 (Mauritshuis, The Hague) depict the ledge and berries in the opposite direction, and the Mauritshuis picture is upright rather than horizontal. In the Weldon painting, the vibrant red of the tiny berries is varied with greenish yellow patches on some of the fruit, and their stippled texture has been meticulously rendered. Two of the berries still have their stems attached, while a single white blossom springs up at right. The composition is intensely focused and intimate. A few of the strawberries are balanced so precariously close to the edge that one can imagine they might tumble off at any moment.
From the mid-1690s onward, many of Coorte’s works were painted on paper laid down on panel, such as this painting, or laid down on canvas. A technique that was highly unusual in the 17th and 18th centuries, it seems to have been Coorte’s preferred working method. It is possible that he drew his design first on paper and then worked in oils on top of this. Whether the paper was affixed to the panel or canvas by Coorte himself or, perhaps, by someone else after his death to make the paintings more marketable has been debated.5 Interestingly, Coorte is known to have re-used paper that had already been written on. During restoration, a painting sold at Sotheby’s, London in 2006 was removed from its panel support and was discovered to have been painted over a page from a merchant’s account book from the early 1600s.6
1. See Buvelot, under Literature, cat. nos. 2 and 3, both signed and dated 1683, in the collection of Fondation Aetas Aurea and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford respectively.
2. Ibid., p. 18 and Bol, op.cit., 1977 pp. 4-5 and 31.
3. Ibid., p. 18, and A. Wheelock, op.cit., p. 5.
4. Ibid.; cat. nos. 44 (dated 1700) and 60 (dated 1705).
5. For a detailed discussion of Coorte’s painting technique, see Ibid. pp. 57-61.
6. London, Sotheby’s, 5 July 2006, lot 36.
A rare and important still life by the Westphalian artist Ludger tom Ring, Still Life with Wild Roses, Peonies and Other Flowers in a White Earthenware Vase (est. $800,000/1,200,000), gifted to Mrs. Weldon by her husband, marks a shift when the subject matter of flowers become an independent genre of painting. Ring is credited with the first depictions of flower still lifes and his earliest dated examples are a pair of paintings from 1562. The painting offered in The Weldon Collection is one of only eight existing still lifes by the artist. Four of the remaining paintings are in a single museum, the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, in Münster.
Lot 60. Ludger tom Ring (Münster 1522 - 1584 Brunswick), Still Life with Wild Roses, Peonies and Other Flowers in a White Earthenware Vase, signed on the vase: RING, oil on panel, 13 3/8 by 9 5/8 in.; 34 by 24.5 cm. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 USD. Lot Sold 3,130,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: With A. Seligmann Gallery, New York, 1938;
With Eugene Slatter Gallery, London;
Mrs. Nothmann, New York, 1952;
Lore Heinemann (1929-2010), New York;
With Bob Haboldt;
With Anthony Speelman, London;
Sold privately by Sotheby's, 2002.
Literature: K. Boström, “De oorspronkelijke bestemming van Ludger tom Rings stillevens,” Oud Holland, vol. 67, 1952, p. 54 and note 8 (as not by Ring);
C. Sterling, in La nature morte de l’Antiquité à nos jours, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1952, p. 30;
P. Pieper, “Ludger tom Ring d.J. und die Anfänge des Stillebens,” Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 1964, pp. 119-120, reproduced p. 121;
M.L. Hairs, Les Peintres flamands de fleurs au XVIIe siècle, New York 1955, p. 148 (only citing Sterling’s reference) and in subsequent editions;
S. Segal, “Blumen, Tiere und Stilleben von Ludger tom Ring d. J.,” in Die Maler tom Ring, exhibition catalogue, Münster 1996, vol. 1, p. 21 and p. 146, note 80;
A. Lorenz, Die Maler tom Ring, exhibition catalogue, Münster 1996, vol. 2, p. 639, cat. no. 194, reproduced.
Note: The present work is a rare and important still life by the Westphalian artist Ludger tom Ring. Flowers had been depicted in art for centuries as part of larger compositions, but by the early 16th century they began to play a more prominent role, and instead of being shown wild in the fields, began to appear in interior scenes in vases and other containers. In about 1485-90, Hans Memling painted a vase of flowers on the reverse of a portrait now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid. However, while a true floral still life, Memling's panel would have been part of a diptych, the other half of which would undoubtedly have been a Virgin and Child, and thus still a subsidiary part of a larger construction.1 It is Ludger tom Ring the Younger who is credited with having made the first independent still life with flowers in a container.2 The Weldon picture is one of only eight extant still lifes by the artist, and four of these are in a single museum, the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, in Münster.1
Ring’s earliest dated still lifes are a pair of paintings of a Vase with Lilies and a Vase with Irises, of 1562 in Münster, (fig. 1). They are similar to Still Life with Wild Roses, Peonies and Other Flowers in a White Earthenware Vase in their overall conception: each shows flowers in a white vases decorated with lettering, placed on a stone shelf and shown against a black background. The vases in the Münster pictures are similar to the one here, but the color and shine suggest they are alabaster, not earthenware, and instead of a signature they bear the date and an inscription that has been read as “In verbis, in herbis et in lapidibus Deus.” 2 The size and narrow proportions of the Münster pictures would indicate they may have been used as a kind of wall decoration or the outer panels of a triptych. Another white vase appears in a composition sold at Sotheby’s, London, 12 July 1978, lot 50. It is shaped like a jug and has similar gold patterning as the one here; it is also signed within a decorative band, a device that appears to be uniquely Ring’s.
Ludger Tom Ring the Younger, A Vase with White Lilies and A Vase with Reddish-Brown and Yellow Irises, LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur (Westfälisches Landesmuseum) / Dauerleihgabe des Westfälischen Kunstvereins.
The present work has a more spacious feel. The flowers are relatively smaller in proportion to the vase and there are more of them, in greater variety. Along the lower edge are peonies and some five-petaled wild roses, topped by red violas. Mixed in are dianthus and what appear to be gillyflowers, and at the top a bell flower. A few curling petals and a few blooms are strewn along the shelf. The shape of the vase and the way in which Ring directs the light to emphasize its swelling form creates a remarkable sense of three-dimensionality, which is carried over into the flowers themselves. Ring carefully delineates the individual forms using a fine brush and adding white highlights to the foliage to make them stand out from the dark background. They have a strength and clarity that recall the flowers and foliage in the works of Dürer.
Pieper has dated the panel to Ring’s later period, after he had left Münster for Brunswick in about 1570 and perhaps as late as 1580.3 It is the most harmonious of his eight still lifes, striking a balance between the very austere narrow compositions of 1562 with just a few kinds of flowers and the larger more elaborate arrangements, such as the Wild Flowers in a Venetian Glass Vase or the Flowers in a Tall Glass Vase, both in private collections, which are more clearly influenced by Netherlandish still lifes.6
1. Segal, under Literature, p. 119.
3. See A. Lorenz, under Literature, cat. nos 141, 142, 149-151, 194-196.
4. "In words, in herbs and in stones -- God."
5. P. Pieper, under Literature, p. 120.
6. Reproduced in Lorenz, op. cit., pp. 640-641.
Henry Weldon originally purchased many of the works in the collection as gifts for his wife, Jimmy, including the first in a pair of paintings by Jean Antoine Watteau. Following her husband's passing, Jimmy continued to collect and later completed the pair, buying the second work herself. The two small canvases, sold together and with an estimate of $800,000/1,200,000, are the only known surviving works created by Watteau for a small room in the Château de la Muette, a 16th century hunting lodge on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Until the reappearance of these exotic works, Chinese Musician in 1996 and Chinese Woman in 2009, the designs for the château were known only from a series of thirty prints advertised for sale in the Mercure in 1731 and later published in the Recueil Jullienne in 1734. Watteau created thirty paintings for the room, twenty six of which were of small rectangular format. Of these twenty six, all depict a single figure in a landscape setting, except the present pair which each has two figures. The Weldon pair were exhibited in 201314 at the Palais de Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris.
Lot 74. Jean Antoine Watteau (Valenciennes 1684 - 1721 Nogent-sur-Marne), "Viosseu" or Chinese musician; Chinese woman of Kouei Tchéou: a pair of paintings. A pair, both oil on canvas, 9 1/4 by 7 1/4 in.; 23.4 by 18.2 cm. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 USD. Unsold. Photo: Sotheby's.
Jean Antoine Watteau (Valenciennes 1684 - 1721 Nogent-sur-Marne), "Viosseu" or Chinese musician. Photo: Sotheby's.
Jean Antoine Watteau (Valenciennes 1684 - 1721 Nogent-sur-Marne), Chinese woman of Kouei Tchéou. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Painted for the King's cabinet, Château de la Muette, circa 1708-1716;
Possibly anonymous sale, Paris 28-29 April 1829, lots 71 and 72 (as lot 71, Antoine Watteau, Composition de deux figures de Chinois, dont l'un joue de la vielle and lot 72, Jeune fille assise dans un jardin; près d'elle est un jeune garcon; Pendant du precedent);
Chinese Musician only: Possibly Bezançon de Wagner;
Chinese Musician only: Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 11 January 1996, lot 151;
Chinese Woman only: Private collection, Switzerland, 2009; acquired through Sotheby's private treaty sale, November 2009.
Exhibited: New Orleans, 1997, no. 68 (Chinese Musician only);
Brussels, Palais de Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). La Leçon de musique, 8 February - 12 May 2013, nos. 125 and 126;
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, De Watteau à Fragonard, Les fêtes galantes, 14 March - 21 July, 2014, nos. 10 and 11.
Literature: E. de Goncourt, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, dessiné et gravé d'Antoine Watteau, Paris 1875, p. 194, cat. nos. 227 and 228;
E. Dacier and A. Vuaflart, Jean de Julienne et les graveurs de Watteau, 1921-1922, cat. nos. 232 and 233 (for the engravings after the paintings);
H. Adhémar and R. Huyghe, Watteau, sa vie — son oeuvre, Paris 1950, pp. 203-204, under cat. no. 18 (lost decorations for the Chateau de la Muette; engraving after Chinese Musician reproduced p. 96);
F. Gétreau, "Watteau et sa generation: contribution à la chronologie et à l'identification de deux instruments," in Imago Musicae, 1987, pp. 303, 307 (Chinese Musician only);
P. Stein, "Boucher's chinoiseries: some new sources," in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 138, September 1996, p. 599, note 8 (Chinese Musician only);
M. Eidelberg and S. Gopin, "Watteau's Chinoiseries at La Muette," in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 130, July/August 1997, p. 26, reproduced fig. 14 (Chinese Musician only; as a copy after the engraving);
New Orleans, 1997, pp. 173-175, reproduced;
M. Roland-Michel, in The Age of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard. Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, exhibition catalogue, Ottawa 2003, pp. 115-116, reproduced fig. 77 (Chinese Musician only);
K. Scott, "Playing Games with Otherness: Watteau's Chinese Cabinet at the Chateau de La Muette," inJournal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 66, 2003, pp.196-197, reproduced fig. 3 (Chinese Musician only; as Attributed to Watteau);
G. Glorieux, Watteau, Paris 2011, pp. 56-58, reproduced p. 57 (Chinese Musician only; as possibly a modello);
N.P. Lallement, in Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). La Leçon de musique, exhibition catalogue, Brussels 2013, pp. 207-208, cat. no. 125 and 126, reproduced;
M. Taverner-Holmes, in De Watteau à Fragonard, Les fêtes galantes, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2014, pp. 58-59,209, cat. nos. 10 and 11, reproduced p. 59 (as circa 1708).
Note: These small, delightful paintings are the only known surviving works that formed part of a decorative scheme executed by Watteau for a small room in the Château de la Muette, a 16th century hunting lodge on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Until the reappearance of these two paintings, Chinese Musician in 1996 and Chinese Woman in 2009 (see Provenance), the designs for the château were known only from a series of thirty prints advertised for sale in the Mercure in 1731 and subsequently published in the Recueil Jullienne in 1734. They were described as Diverse Figures, Chinoises et Tartares, Peintes par Watteau, Peintre du Roy…Tirées du Cabinet de sa Majesté, Au Chauteau de la Meute. The engravers included François Boucher, Edme Jeaurat and Michel-Guillaume Aubert, who engraved the present two compositions. Though the legends on the prints stated that they were “drawn from the collection of the King at La Muette,” no trace of the paintings or the commission is found in royal records or archives.1 Recent scholarship has suggested that the scheme did not, in fact, originate with Louis XV, but more likely with one of the château’s former tenants, Joseph-Jean-Baptiste Fleuriau d’Armenonville, who resided at the chateau from 1705-1716.2 Under Louis III and Louis XIV, the château was a perquisite to the office of Capitainerie de la Varenne du Louvre (Master of the Hunt of the Bois de Boulogne) which, from 1705, was assumed by Fleuriau d’Armenonville. He and his wife, Jeanne Gilbert, shared a passion for exotic, imported wares and an inventory of items drawn up following the death of Gilbert in 1716 indicates that La Muette had been filled to the brim with Chinese and Japanese porcelains, screens, lacquered furniture, Turkish carpets and the like. Though circumstantial, this predilection for le goût oriental adds credence to the theory that it was Fleuriau d’Armenonville who originally commissioned Watteau to paint the cabinet in La Muette. After Fleuriau d’Armenonville, the château became the home of the Duchesse de Berry, daughter of the Duc d'Orléans, Regent of France and was eventually used by Louis XV. In Dezailler d’Argenville’s description of the château in 1762, he makes no mention of the Watteau paintings, so it appears that their existence there was fairly short-lived.3
Datable to circa 1708-16, the decoration for La Muette is one of the earliest examples of chinoiserie used in a decorative scheme in France. Watteau’s designs made a profound impact on other artists such as Boucher who took up similar themes in his own work in the 1730s and 1740s. Indeed, Watteau’s La Muette decorations, in their wider dissemination through the series of engravings, have been credited with providing the inspiration for the development of the chinoiserie as a distinct genre in French art.4
Watteau created thirty paintings for the room, twenty six of which were of small rectangular format. Of these twenty six, all depict a single figure in a landscape setting, except the present pair which each has two figures. The titles of the paintings are taken from the published engravings. Viosseu or Chinese Musician depicts a man seated on the ground, wearing a blue robe and pagoda-shaped straw hat. He plays a hurdy-gurdy while a woman behind him listens, leaning her left arm on a low wall. Chinese Woman of Kouei Tchéou portrays a young woman, also seated on the ground, wearing a voluminous rose-colored dressing gown with blue sash. She points at something out of the picture plane with her right hand while looking down to the left. She is accompanied by a child in a blue robe, with shaved head and crossed arms. The figures in both are set against distant, mountainous landscapes and the artist has used a palette of exquisitely subtle shades of blue, green and pink.
In her reconstruction of the cabinet at La Muette, Katie Scott (see Literature) proposes that the small rectangular pictures were arranged in two tiers and that Chinese Musician and Chinese Woman were positioned on the top level, possibly inset above pier-mirrors or overmantles. The trompe l’oeil “gilt” frames on both pictures may have formed part of the decoration or could have been added later after the room had been dismantled in order to transform them into cabinet pictures.5 In addition to the figural paintings by Watteau, it is thought that there were arabesques, most likely painted by Claude III Audran with whom Watteau was working in circa 1708-12.
1. See K. Scott, under Literature, p. 192.
2. Ibid., pp. 192-193.
3. See N. Dezallier d’Argenville, Voyages pittoresques des Evirons de Paris, Paris 1762, pp. 14-16.
4. See P. Stein, under Literature, pp. 599-600.
5. K. Scott, op.cit, p. 196 and note 32.
Landscape with Pan and Syrinx (est. $3/5,000,000) is an exquisite collaboration between Sir Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel the Younger. The work portrays the story of Pan and Syrinx – a satyr-like god pursuing a beautiful nymph – a narrative Rubens returned to over the course of his career. In the present work, datable to about 1626, Rubens provides the figures of Pan and Syrinx and Jan Brueghel the Younger captures the landscape, flowers and animals. The quality of the landscape and animals is so high that it was previously attributed to Jan Brueghel the Younger’s father, Jan Brueghel the Elder. However, Jan the Elder died of cholera in 1625, and the Weldon Pan and Syrinx would have been completed upon his son’s return from a formative trip to Italy, most likely on his father’s design.
Lot 30. Sir Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel the Younger (1577 - 1640 Antwerp Antwerp 1601 - 1678), Landscape with Pan and Syrinx. the reverse of the panel bears the brand of the Antwerp panel-makers' guild and the maker's mark of Michiel Vriendt (MV in monogram), oil on panel, 23 by 37 1/4 in.; 58.2 by 94.6 cm. Estimate 3,000,000 — 5,000,000 USD. Lot Sold 3,130,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Detail. Sir Paul Rubens and Jan Breughel the Younger (1577 - 1640 Antwerp Antwerp 1601 - 1678), Landscape with Pan and Syrinx. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Graf Schönborn, Schloss Pommersfelden;
Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot (A. M. Le Comte de Schönborn), 17-18 May 1867, lot 210 for 7,000 francs;
Salomon Goldschmidt, Paris;
His (anonymous) sale, Paris, Georges Petit (M.G...., 14-17 May 1898, lot 95, reproduced, 9,200 francs, to Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Frankfurt-am-Main;
By whom sold to the city of Frankfurt-am-Main November 1938;
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-am-Main, inv. no. SG 894;
Transferred to Central Collecting Point Wiesbaden 1947 and restituted to the heirs of Goldschmidt-Rothschild, 1948;
With Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, circa 1960;
Brian Jenks, Astbury Hall, Shropshire;
With Edward Speelman, London, 1979-80;
British Rail Pension Fund Collection;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 5 July 1995, lot 42 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger);
David Koetser, 1995.
Exhibited: London, National Gallery, on loan, 1980-1988;
London, Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., Thirty-five Paintings from the Collection of the British Rail Pension Fund, 8 November–14 December 1984, no. 3;
Leeds Castle, Kent, on loan, 1988-1995 ;
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, and Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, The Age of Rubens, September 1993 – April 1994, no. 17 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
New Orleans 1997, no 43 (as Rubens and attributed to Jan Brueghel the Younger);
Baltimore 1997, no. 42 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger);
Staatliche Museen, Kassel and Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt-am-Main, Pan & Syrinx: Eine erotische Jagd. Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel und ihre Zeitgenossen, 19 March – 22 August 2004, no. 23 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger(?) – the author noting the difficulty of distinguishing between the father and son).
Literature: G. Campori, Riccolta di catal. ed. invent. ined (1870), p. 191 (according to P. Sutton, below);
Possibly J Denucé, "Brieven en Documenten betreffend Jan Brueghel I en II," in Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Vlaamsche kunst, vol. III 1934, p. 142;
A. Pigler Barockthemen, 1956, p. 191 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
M. Jaffé, "Rubens and Raphel," in Studies in Renaissance and Baroque Art Presented to Anthony Blunt, London and New York 1967, p. 100, reproduced, fig. 3 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
M. Jaffé, Rubens and Italy, 1977, p. 23, note 50 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
J. Müller Hofstede, "Rubens und Jan Brueghel: Diana und Ihre Nymphen," Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, cat. nos. 10/11, 1968, p. 231 (as Rubens and suggesting a co-attribution to Jan Brueghel the Younger;
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, Cologne 1979, pp. 417-420, 622-623, cat. no. 384a, reproduced fig. 504 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
M. Kitson, in The Burlington Magazine 122 (September 1980), pp. 646, 664, reproduced fig. 63 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel [sic]);
K. Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Jüngere (1601-1678), Freren 1984, pp. 70-71, 81, 417-418, cat. no. 256, reproduced (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger);
M. Jaffé, Rubens, Catalogo Completo, Milan 1989, p. 231, cat no. 442, reproduced (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
P.C. Sutton in The Age of Rubens, exhibition catalogue Boston and Toledo 1993-1994, pp. 35, 221, 260-262, cat. no. 17, reproduced (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder);
A. Balis, "The Age of Rubens - Book Review," in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 136, January 1994, p. 53 (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger);
New Orleans 1997, cat. no 43, reproduced (as Rubens and attributed to Jan Brueghel the Younger);
Baltimore 1999, cat. no. 42, reproduced (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger);
J. Lange, in Pan & Syrinx: Eine erotische Jagd. Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel und ihre Zeitgenossen, exhibition catalogue, Kassel and Frankfurt-am-Main 2004, cat. no. 23, (as Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger(?) – the author noting the difficulty of distinguishing between the father and son), reproduced.
Verso of the present lot, showing the brand of the antwerp panel-maker’s guild and the maker’s mark of Michiel Vriendt.
Note: The story of Pan and Syrinx – a satyr-like god pursuing a beautiful nymph – captured Rubens’s imagination, and over the course of his career he returned to the theme as a subject for paintings and drawings.1 In the present work, datable to about 1626, he collaborated with Jan Brueghel the Younger, Rubens providing the figures of Pan and Syrinx and Brueghel the landscape, flowers and animals. The two artists were in perfect harmony, the marshy landscape with its sharp reeds providing the perfect foil for Rubens’s painterly forms.
The subject is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book I, verses 689-721. Syrinx was a wood nymph who emulated the goddess Diana both in her role as a hunter and in her desire to preserve her chastity. One day Pan saw Syrinx and, overcome with passion, chased her through the forest. She ran from him but was forced to stop at the river Ladon, where she begged the water nymphs to change her into another form so that she could escape her pursuer. Just as Pan reached her, she was transformed into a stand of reeds and thus eluded his advances. However, the sound of the wind rushing through the reeds produced such beautiful tones that Pan wanted to preserve them to remind himself of Syrinx, so he cut a few down and fashioned them into what today are known as Pan pipes.
Thoré-Bürger described Pan and Syrinx in glowing terms in the catalogue of the Pommersfelden sale in 1867 (see Provenance) and in contrast to many other important compositions by Rubens, the attribution has remained largely unchallenged (see Literature). Traditionally the landscape and animals were thought to be by Jan Brueghel the Elder, but new research and a better understanding of the artistic relationship between the father and son has led to the recognition that they are, in fact, the work of Jan the Younger. Jan the Elder died in a cholera epidemic that swept Antwerp in 1625, so Jan the Younger returned from Italy in August of that year to take over his workshop. He also assumed his father’s contracts, completing some of the pictures that had been left unfinished at his death.
It is clear that the figures in the Weldon picture were painted first and the landscape added later, but the question of how much time elapsed between the two events had been for many years unresolved. An entry in Jan the Younger’s daybook from 1626 – the record of what he had painted during that year and the prices asked – provides an important clue: "14, Noch ghemact een stuxhen Pan en Siringa, S. Rubens de figurkens, dat estimerende op 120" (14. Made another piece of Pan and Syrinx, Sig. Rubens [did] the figures, priced at 120).3 While we cannot be certain that this note definitely refers to the present work, it is extremely likely that it does. Certainly the style here is still very dependent on that of his father, which is entirely consistent for a painting from his early period. The steps in the creation of Pan and Syrinx would then be as follows: the panel was delivered by Michiel Vriendt to Rubens’s workshop, where it was primed and given to the master to paint the figures; it was then sent to the Brueghel workshop and Jan the Younger added the landscape and animals, presumably based on a preliminary design by his father.
Rubens also collaborated with Jan Brueghel the Elder, as is evidenced by a description of a picture in the latter’s estate (known from his son’s diary) “Den Pan en Siringa van Slg. Rubens, den gront vader Saliger" (A Pan and Syrinx by Sig. Rubens, the background by the deceased).4 That picture may well be the painting sold at Sotheby's, London, 12 July 2001, lot 29, now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel (inv. no. GK 1229), which is datable to about 1617 (fig. 2).5 It is a somewhat more static work and shown from a closer point of view than the Weldon picture. In it Syrinx has stopped running and turns to face Pan who is holding the edge of her drapery in one hand and a bunch of reeds in the other. Around them is a profusion of small plants and flowers, along with frogs and water fowl.
Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Pan and Syrinx, Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister.
The Weldon picture, which was painted nearly a decade later, is conceived quite differently. The dynamism of Rubens’s brushstrokes create an energy that transfers to the running figures and is echoed in the composition itself. Rubens paints Pan in short, bold strokes, sketching in his hair and the fur on his cloak, while using a loaded brush to create the swirls of Syrinx’s hair and drapery. Her red cloak is enlivened with pink and white highlights and greenish-gray shadows. The figures’ chase has set some of the birds into motion, and they fly off to the left. Jan the Younger dapples the foreground with irises, lilies and small water lilies, adding color to the prevailing green of the landscape. The sharp blades of the reed contrast with the loosely painted figures, setting them off and magnifying the sensuosity of Rubens’s creation.
1. For illustrations and descriptions of the most important versions, see J. Lange, under Literature passim.
2. K. Ertz 1984, under Literature, pp. 70-71, 81, 417-418, was the first to make the attribution to Jan the Younger.
3. Ibid., p. 526.
4. Sutton, under Literature, pp. 261-262, with references to the early sources.
5. This painting was formerly attributed to Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Younger, but the most recent scholarship has given it to Jan the Elder. See Lange, op. cit., p. 142.
The Weldon Collection, a stunning group of works by important Old Masters, reflects a lifetime and love of collecting.