Lot 48. Aert van der Neer (Amsterdam 1603-1677), An evening landscape with fishermen in the foreground, figures resting beside a bridge, a village with a church spire and windmills to the left, a country tavern to the right and vessels on an estuary beyond, signed with monogram 'AV DN' (lower right, both in ligature), oil on canvas, 42.5 x 58cm (16 3/4 x 22 13/16in). Estimate £50,000 - 70,000 (€57,000 - 80,000). Sold for £56,250 (€63,510) inc. premiumPhoto: Bonhams.

ProvenanceSale, J. Viet, Amsterdam, 12 October 1774, lot 352 (sold for fl. 121) 
With Leonard Koetser, London (Eventide Landscape, 1958 catalogue, no. 6, dimensions incorrectly given as 42.5 x 50 cm.), where purchased by the present owner's parents.

ExhibitedPossibly, Arnhem, Gemeentemuseum, 1958, no. 19, ill. (see Schulz, op. cit. p. 381)
Possibly, Warsaw, Warsaw Muzeum Narodowe, 1958, no. 66/67 (cat. no. 66 (see Schulz, op. cit. p. 381)

LiteratureC. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1918, vol. VII, no. 322, p. 436 
W. Schulz, Aert van der Neer, Doornspijk, 2002, no. 990, p. 381 (whereabouts unknown)

NoteHofstede de Groot describes the landscape by Aert van der Neer, sold in 1774 in Amsterdam as follows: 'Moonlit landscape with a river animated by various boats. In the foreground is a pool, where two fishermen are employed with a net. To the left a church with a tower and on the water some farmhouses. The ascending moon is to the right behind a house. - Faithful in light and in colouring. On canvas, 42.5 x 58 cm.' Because Schulz had not seen it and the 1958 catalogue gives the incorrect dimensions (42.5 x 65 cm.), he listed the Leonard Koetser picture as 'Attribution plausible' and 'possibly the copy sold in Amsterdam, 12 October 1774, lot 352'. In fact, both the description and dimensions match Hofstede de Groot's no. 322 exactly. Schulz compared the composition to a version of the subject that was sold in Cologne, 3 June 1959, lot 111; and to works exhibited in Arnhem in 1958 (no. 19, fig. 34) and at Warsaw, 1958 (no. 66.). Copies of the present composition are known: in Brugge Stadhuis (B 138869); and sale, Amsterdam (Brandt), 28 June 1973, lot 33, ill. The latter was attributed to Anthony van Borssom, a suggestion that was rejected by both Fredo Bachmann and Wolfgang Schulz. 

As a painter of twilight, moonlit and winter landscapes, Aert van der Neer was one of the most important landscapists of his age, celebrated for his subtle portrayal of atmosphere. His early landscapes were influenced by the Camphuysen brothers, Raphael and Jochem Govertsz., the former probably being his master. He married their sister, Lysbeth in 1629. This influence is evident in the design of the present work which is framed by a church spire and two windmills on the left and an inn on the right while receding to a distant estuary beyond. A very similar composition, for example, with the church, the windmill and a boat in the foreground, a winter landscape on panel, 26.4 x 40.5 cm., is in the National Gallery, London. It was through these two brother artists and those of the Frankenthal school, such as Gillis d'Hondecoeter and Alexander Keirincx, that van der Neer inherited the compositional influence of the Flemish landscape tradition. Van der Neer's particular achievement, however, was that he augmented the established laws of perspective through his representation of light, often enhanced by cloud patterns and by the descent of dusk, through the use of subtle tonal changes, creating a sense of space and atmosphere. This could not be more evident than in the present poetic landscape. 

The artist paid special attention to certain laws of nature, not only in the carefully considered detail in the sky, where imposing cloud formations are depicted with meteorological awareness, but most of all in his treatment of the reflection and diffusion of light with nuances of colour over a relatively monochrome landscape. The sunlight breaking through the clouds to the right of the present composition gives a clear, warm glow to the figures and other details it touches; while the artist's skill in conveying translucence allows those more distant details, lacking in the sun's light, to appear in the darkness through a variety of warm browns and steel greys. 

Although he worked all his life in Amsterdam, his choice of subject matter reveals his love of the canals and woods around Haarlem and Leiden, and for the reaches of the Meuse and Rhine. Aert van der Neer's ultimate story is that of the classic impoverished artist, unappreciated in his own lifetime. In 1662, when he was documented as having been the keeper of a tavern with his son, Johannes, he was declared bankrupt and when his paintings were appraised they were considered to be of small value. It is a testament to his dedication as an artist, however, that van der Neer continued to paint while in a state of extreme poverty on the Kerkestraat in Amsterdam until his death. 

We are grateful to Dr. Ellis Dullaert for her assistance in confirming the cataloguing of this lot.