F.A. Vriese, Amsterdam, bought on 22 May 1877 for Dfl 4.000
Private Collection, Bloemendaal
Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (on loan)
Sale Amsterdam (Mak van Waay), 20 May 1974, cat. no. 229, lot 94
Leslie Smith Gallery, Wassenaar, 1990
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, 'Nederland bouwt in baksteen, 1800-1940, 26 July-15 November 1941, no. 32
A. Bosmann, Meisterbilder Hollandischer Maler des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Berlin, ill. no. 6
W. van der Laan, 'Een genoeglijk straatleven', Tableau, volume 4, no. 6, p. 565
W. Laanstra, H.C. de Bruijn, Dr. J.H.A. Ringeling, Cornelis Springer (1817-1891), Utrecht 1984, no. 77-2, illustrated in colour
With a label of authenticity by the artist on the reverse, dated 5 May 1877
Up to this day, Cornelis Springer remains unchallenged as the first and foremost Dutch painter of townscapes. Born in a family of carpenters and building contractors, he was gifted with a solid knowledge of architecture. His brother Hendrik Springer, a professional architect, taught him the principles of architectural drawing and perspective, from which he benefited his entire career.
After completing his studies at the Amsterdam Academy in 1835, Springer became a pupil of Kasparus Karsen, a well known painter of town views. Contrary to his teacher Karsen, who painted fantasised landscapes (so called capriccio's), Springer strove for topographical accurate views, discovering that these were much more in demand. Although Springer didn't eschew to embellish the arrangement of his town views, they reflect the actual situation fairly accurately, portraying life in a Dutch town in an imaginative way.
As a rule, Springer first studied the situation on the spot, after which he drew a preparatory sketch, usually the same size as the painting. After this he turned his sketches into finished paintings in his Amsterdam studio.
Springer visited Delft on 15 July 1876. Two days after his visit, he started to make preparatory drawings of the buildings for the present lot. As he often did, Springer embellished some elements in his composition. The renaissance windows of the Gemeenlandshuis were replaced by crosswindows and grilles were placed in front of the windows below. The shutters on the first floor belong to Springer's imagination as well. In order to make the building more impressive, he enlarged the pinnacles on the roof. The houses next to the Gemeenlandshuis are partly fantasized, as are the houses to the far right. Springer replaced the marble pavement, which still exists, by bricks. Probably Springer copied these embellished elements from the paintings Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) made of this subject. The grilles, the brick pavement and the houses to the right are very much alike.
Springer also made several studies of the figures. He made preparatory drawings for the three women talking on the foreground, the seated women next to them and for the man pulling the vegetable boat to the right.
The present lot can be seen as one of the best and most fascinating works by the artist. The rhythm of the differences in height and the strong vertical accents, the contrast of light and shadow, the colouring and the solid composition of the figures, the geometrical pattern of the Gemeenlandshuis, the suggestion of depth by the trees and the horse on the bridge, all these elements make this composition a complex and intriguing painting.
What makes it even more interesting, is that Springer made notes of the progress of the execution of the present lot. It took him 42 days to work on it. Two months later he sold it to the Amsterdam collector F.A. Vriese for 4.000 guilders (circa euro 1.800), a considerable amount at that time.
Notes made by Springer (translation):
Travelling sketches 15 July 1876
Charcoal sketch 17, 19, 20 and 21 July 1876
Drawing 3 November 1876
Lay out sky 6 November 1876
Gemeenlandshuis 18 - 22 November 1876
Trees 23 November 1876
Tower and houses to the right 24 November 1876
Lay out perspective 25 November 1876
Staffage 28 - 30 November 1876
Painting sky 8 February 1877
Facade Gemeenlandshuis 16, 20 and 21 February 1877
House 22 February 1877
1st House 23 February 1877
Gemeenlandshuis 28 February, 5-7 March 1877
House next to Gemeenlandshuis 8 March 1877
House 2nd ground 9 March 1877
Street 10 March 1877
Church, houses, bridge to the right 21 March 1877
Canal 22 March 1877
Trees to the right 24 March 1877
Figures 26 and 27 March 1877
Trees 2 April 1877
Drawing figures 3 and 4 April 1877
Painting figures 8, 11 and 12 April 1877
Retouche 16 -19 April 1877
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