With David Ietswaart, by whom sold by 1752 for 176 Guilders to
Willem Lormier, The Hague, no. 278, (described in his accounts as Maarten Sorg boere geselschap), by whom sold on 10 November 1756, for 300 Guilders to
Prince Dimitri Alekseyevich Galitzin (1734-1803);
Probably J.R. Mills (died 1879), and thence by descent;
Major J.C.T. Mills, Hilborough Hall, Thetford, Norfolk, by 1955;
Thence by inheritance to Mrs. Charles Mills;
By whose Executors sold, London, Christie's, 13 December 1985, lot 72, for £97,500;
With Richard Green, London, 1986-88;
Private collection, Germany.
Catalogus van Schildereyen van den heer Agent Willem Lormier..., The Hague 1752, no. 278: 'Een Vrolyk boeren gezelschap, en een Vrouw die een Visketel over het vuur hangt, br. 2 v. 7, en een half d., h 1 v. 10 en een half d., P'[aneel];
J.B. Descamps, La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandais, vol. 2, Paris 1754, pp. 325-6 ('Henri Rokes surnommé Zorg élevé de David Teniers: chez M. Lormier, une Assemblée de Paysans & une femme qui fait cuire du poisson dans une chaudiere');
L.T. Schneeman, Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh: A Painter of Rotterdam. With Catalogue Raisonné, doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1982, pp. 102-3 and 201, no. 17, reproduced fig. 15 (as datable circa 1644-45);
E. Korthals Altes, "The eighteenth-century gentleman dealer Willem Lormier and the international dispersal of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings", in Simiolus, vol. 28, no. 4, 2000-2001, pp. 282 and 310, no. 54, reproduced p. 282, fig. 34.
This is an excellent example of Dutch genre painting, as well as a characteristic work by Sorgh, who painted it in Rotterdam in the mid-1640s. At this time he specialized in peasant interiors, probably influenced by the Saftleven brothers, who were still in Rotterdam. Liane Schneeman suggested that the subject is the Five Senses, with the amorous couple to the left representing Touch, the fiddler, Hearing, the woman feeding her child, Taste, the seated man watching the couple, Sight, and the smoker seated close to a string of onions, Smell.1
This picture belonged to the eighteenth-century Dutch gentleman-dealer Willem Lormier in The Hague. We know a great deal about Lormier and his activities from the catalogue of his collection (or more accurately, of his stock), that he published in 1752, and in particular from the copy that survives with an annotated stockbook for the years 1748-58, listing where, when and for how much he bought works, where when and to whom he sold them, for how much and the amount of profit made in each case.2 Lormier bought this painting from the Amsterdam dealer David Ietswaart in 1752 for 176 guilders. He sold it to Prince Galitzin in 1756 for 300 Guilders - a respectable profit. We do not know where it went thereafter, but Galitzin, who was to become Russian Ambassador in The Hague, was buying for Catherine the Great, as well as assembling a collection of his own. In addition to the Sorgh, he bought from Lormier two paintings by Isaac Koedijck, a Gerard Dou, two paintings by Adriaen van Ostade and a Gerard ter Borch, and paid for the entire group 2,700 Guilders, giving Lormier a profit of 800 guilders.3 This picture can be positively identified from its description in Willem Lormier's accounts, since the measurement he gives is almost identical: 58 by 83 cm..
After 1756 there is no certain record of this picture until listed in Major Mills' collection at Hilborough in 1955. His collection was dispersed at auction in 1985, when several of the Dutch pictures are listed as formerly in the collection of his ancestor J.R. Mills, who was buying in the 1850s.
1. See Schneeman, under Literature, pp. 102-3.
2. See Literature. The annotated copy is on loan to the R.K.D. in The Hague from the Mauritshuis, and it and Lormier's activities are discussed in the greatest of detail in Everhard Korthals Altes' article in Simiolus (qv).
3. See Korthals Altes, op. cit., pp. 281-82.
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