PROPERTY FROM A GERMAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Possibly F. de Wildt, Amsterdam, by 1845;
Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Roos, 12 December 1916, lot 40 (as D[aniel] Mijtens);
Alme, Oslo, 1937;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 26 November 1958, lot 73, bought by Rhodes;
Mrs Sofie Alme, Oslo;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 1 November 1972, lot 111, sold for £ 3.200 to the present owner (all the above as Caspar Netscher).
Possibly C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. V, Esslingen/Paris 1912, 549, no. 161a (as Van der Neer);
S.J. Gudlaugsson, Geraert ter Borch, The Hague 1959-60, vol. I, p. 169, under no. 165, reproduced vol. II, plate XVII, fig. 2 (as Picolet);
Advertisement in: Connoisseur, vol. 145, 1960, May, p. LXXX;
M.E. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher and late seventeenth century Dutch Painting, diss. Columbia 1991, p. 577, no. C453 (as Picolet);
M.E. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher and late Seventeenth-century Dutch Painting, Doornspijk 2002, p. 417, no. C462 (under studio productions and rejected attributions, as Picolet).
Until recently this picture had been attributed in turn to Caspar Netscher (1639-1684) and to Cornelis Picolet (1626-1679). The attribution to Netscher was rejected by Marjorie Wieseman in her monograph on this artist. Sturla Gudlaugsson was the first to both publish and reproduce the picture, attributing it to Cornelis Picolet, a minor Rotterdam artist whose modest talent is only evidenced by a handful of portraits while his fame actually rests on the fact that he was the first tutor of Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722). The present family portrait is beyond any doubt by Van der Werff’s second and last tutor, Eglon Hendrick van der Neer. As such the painting will be included as an autograph work in the forthcoming monograph on this master currently in preparation by Eddy Schavemaker.
Although the costumes worn by the sitters are for the greater part imaginary, specific accessories have lead costume historian Marieke de Winkel to confirm that the style of dress is consistent with the fashion of around 1670. This date also tallies with the stylistic features of the painting. At the moment of the portrait’s execution Eglon van der Neer resided in Rotterdam where he settled in 1663, leaving in 1680 for Brussels. In those days Rotterdam suffered from a serious lack of skilled portrait painters. Van der Neer set out to comply with the local demand for portraits and quickly developed himself as a prolific and attractive portrait painter.
One of the other aspects for which Van der Neer was rightly praised, is his ability to render fabrics convincingly, especially shiny materials such as satin. He was called by his own pupil Van der Werff a specialist of ‘satijne rokjes’ (satin skirts). Indeed, Van der Neer often made a satin costume the focal point of a picture as is the case in the present portrait. The splendid verisimilitude that Dutch masters such as Ter Borch (1617-1681) and Eglon van der Neer reached in their depiction of this costly textile provides a fundamental riddle to scholars of Dutch art. The present picture might also present a key to a part of the solution. The pattern of pleats of the satin skirt worn by the lady corresponds to a similar costume by a lady in a genre piece by Van der Neer from 1682 (private collection, U.S.A.). These similarities strongly suggest the use of a preliminary drawing representing only the dress specifically recording the pleats in detail, a drawing that apparently could be used over and over. The œuvre of Ter Borch also offers some examples that point to the use of such drawings. This working method has not yet received its due attention from scholars and at any rate opposes the prevailing assumption that artists painted satin ‘after life’.
We are grateful to Eddy Schavemaker for his help in cataloguing this lot. Sold with a photostat certificate by M.J. Friedländer, dated 19 October 1949, stating this painting to be by Caspar Netscher.
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