Lot 28
  • 28

Frans van Mieris the Elder

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Frans van Mieris the Elder
  • an interior with a soldier smoking a pipe
  • signed on the side of the chair: FvMieris
  • oil on oak panel, in the original Dresden Gallery carved and gilt wood frame bearing the cypher of August the Strong 


In the possession of August the Strong, Elector of Saxony, by 1753, and in the Guarienti inventory by that date, no. 1553;
By descent to the Kings of Saxony;
Königlich Sächsische Galerie, later Gemäldegalerie Dresden, inv. no. 474, hanging in Room 16 of the right wing, first floor of the Zwinger in 1901, no. 1746;
Exchanged with Galerie Van Diemen, Berlin, 1927, in combination with other paintings for Giambattista Tiepolo's Triumph of Amphitrite;
With Galerie Van Diemen & Co., Unter den Linden 17, Berlin;
By whom sold 20 October 1937, for 30,000 Reichsmarks to August Neuerburg (died 1944), Elbchaussee 77, Hamburg-Blankenese;
Thence by descent.


Guarienti inventory, before 1753, no. 1553;
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné..., London 1829, vol. I, no. 76;
Payne's Royal Dresden Gallery, London n.d. (c. 1850), engr. opp. p. 83;
Ch. Blanc, Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles. Ecole Hollandaise, Paris 1863, p. 23;
G. Parthey, Deutscher Bildersaal; Verzeichnis der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbener Maler aller Schulen, Berlin 1864, vol. II, p. 127, no. 15;
A. Siret, Dictionnaire historique des peintres de toutes les écoles, Paris 1866, p. 603;
C. Lemcke, "Frans van Mieris", in R. Dohme ed., Kunst und Künstler, Deutschlands und der Niederlände bis um die Mitte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig 1878, p. 23;
J. Hübner, Verzeichnis der Königlichen Gemälde-Gallerie zu Dresden, last ed., Dresden 1880, no. 1588; 
R. Gower, The Figure Painters of Holland, London 1880, p. 112;
J.D. Champlin and C.C. Perkins (eds)., Encyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, New York 1887, vol. III, p. 265;
K. Woermann, Katalog der Königlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden, Dresden 1902, p. 562, no. 1747;
A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexikon, Vienna 1910, vol. II, p. 165;
G.C. Williamson, Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, London 1927, vol. V, p. 336;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. X, London 1907, no. 93, p. 27;
L. Hourticq, Hollande en Histoire Générale de l'Art, Paris 1932, p. 306;
E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs, et graveurs..., Paris 1953, vol. VI, p. 117;
E. Plietzsch, Holländische und Flämische Maler des XVII. Jahrh., Leipzig 1960, p. 52;
L. de Vries, Jan Steen, de kluchtschilder, Groningen 1977, no. 73, pp. 47 and 128;
W. Bernt, Die Niederländischen Maler und Zeichner des 17. Jahrhunderts, Munich 1980, p. 821, reproduced, as by Frans van Mieris the Elder;
O. Naumann, Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635-1681), Groningen 1981, vol. I, p. 44, vol. II, p. 17, no. 13, reproduced plate 13;
Q. Buvelot, Frans van Mieris 1635-1681, Zwolle 2005, p. 84, plate 5b.



"The following condition report has been provided by Henry Gentle, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The oak panel is of good quality and in an excellent stable condition. The paint layer is similarly in a very good well preserved state with the paint texture, impasto and glazes intact. A small raised ridge of pale wood, approximately 3cm long is visible to the left hand side. Across the surface can be seen some three or four minor discoloured restorations, mostly to the background and around the sitter's right hand. The shadow of his coat, over the back of the chair, has some minor thinness to the paint layer which has been strengthened. These restorations are clumsy and excessive. The varnish has significantly discoloured and its removal would improve the tonality considerably. Offered in carved gilt frame, with some chips."
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Frans van Mieris was destined to be a goldsmith like his father, but it seems he had already started to paint in the early 1650s.  His grounding as a painter was entirely within the Leiden fijnschilder tradition, of which he was to become its greatest exponent.  He first trained with Abraham Toorenvliet, then with Gerard Dou, then Abraham van den Tempel, and then, before 1655, he was back again with Gerard Dou, who soon realized what a brilliant pupil he had.  As Houbraken noted in his biography published in 1721, the young Van Mieris soon surpassed his master, who referred to Van Mieris as the prince of all his pupils".1  Although he enrolled in the Guild of Saint Luke in May 1658, he is likely by then to have been working as an independent painter for several years.  His first dated work is from 1657.

These biographical details are germane, since this painting is an early work by Frans van Mieris, dated by Otto Naumann circa 1655-7.2  At this stage in his career, Van Mieris' style was still dependent on Dou, and although he was already a remarkably accomplished painter, he had not yet attained the degree of refinement for which he became so renowned, although he did so remarkably quickly in 1657 and shortly after.  This is a good example of his early style, and reveals the thick brushwork and stubby fingers that are characteristic of this phase in his career.  It is not his most Dou-like work, however, and it would appear that he was already moving away from his master's style and developing his own, even though he had yet to make the decisive break from Dou.  In this picture and in other works of this period, such as the Connoisseur in the Artist's Studio in Dresden, the Sending the Boy for Beer in Copenhagen, and the Artist's Studio also formerly in Dresden, Van Mieris favours a similar compositional scheme, with his subjects set in a room seen on a diagonal, lit by windows from the left, and in the first two as well as the present one, he places a still life element on the floor to the right, exploiting the slanting light that falls on it from the left.3

Naumann records two copies. 

1.  "Den Prins van zyne Leerlingen"; A. Houbraken, Groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, Leiden 1718-21, vol. 3, p. 2. 
2.  Naumann, under Literature, 1981, p. 17, on the basis of an old photograph.  We are grateful to Otto Naumann for confirming his opinion on the basis of a transparency.
3.  See Naumann, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 15-18, 20-22, nos. 12, 14, 19, reproduced plates 12, 14 & 19.