Lot 428
  • 428

Gerard Pieter Adolfs

180,000 - 220,000 HKD
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  • Gerard Pieter Adolfs
  • Pasar (Market)
  • Signed
  • Oil on canvas
  • 60.5 by 80.5 cm.; 23 3/4 by 31 3/4 in.


Private Collection, Singapore


The work is in good condition overall, as is the canvas, which is clear and sound. There is light wear and handling around the edges of the painting inherent to the framing process, but paint layers and impastos are intact and healthy. Under ultraviolet light inspection reveals restoration scattered on the top left corner (background), along the top margin (dark brown paint and grey paint), on the middle section of the left border (bird cages), the bottom left corner, the clothing of the standing woman in white at the middle, the red sarong of the adjacent woman, above the furthest basket on the right and on the bottom right corner. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Gerard Pieter Adolfs’ incessant love for Java and Bali and his penchant for painting the ordinary lives of the native people steeped in an atmospheric tropical sun earned him the appellation of “The Wizard of Light.” In between the deeply-casted shadows is the coming-alive of a vibrant light, which is the central motif of Adolfs’ style and the main driving force behind his diverse collection of paintings, drawings, etchings and sketches.

The present work Pasar (Market) is a potent example of Adolf’s mature style, where he demonstrates mastery in the use of the palette knife in combination with swift impressionistic brushwork. Adolfs fills his canvas with harmonious color modulations, accented by a staccato of vibrant hues where sunlight gleams most brilliantly. Through the truthful rendering of light and shadow, along with the spontaneous application of colors, the artist carves out a slice of reality that punctures the very heart of matters. Figures are composed of thick brushstrokes, delineating precise silhouettes in mid-conversations and mid-actions. The specifics of facial features are left out intentionally, yet the depth of emotions is not deemphasized. In fact, dynamics of an ordinary day at a Javanese market are amplified by the impressionistic quality of the complex, interacting gestures and bodies.

The striking frankness in the present canvas is eloquently described by the following quote: “Adolfs has fathomed the soul of the Javanese and Balinese people. He has vitalized and intensified his figures with no loss of tranquility. Perhaps that is the most striking characteristic of these canvasses: this silent activity, of posture rather than of motion, and of concentrated observation on an event rather than active participation in it.”  Furthermore, the composition in Pasar (Market) is a rare instance in Adolfs’ artistic canon, in which objects and people occupy the full pictorial space. The figures dressed in distinctively Javanese attire are depicted amid their manifold activities. The richly nuanced composition stands in contrast to his more common works, where a single task or activity is typically isolated for the sake of a more focused aesthetic arrangement. The thickly applied layers of paints and lively impastos add an astonishing sense of three-dimensionality to the painting.

For Adolfs, the ultimate ambition of any artist has always been the search for a concrete, truthful quality in human existence, and then “to reproduce it in such a way by means of color, composition, tone, shape—that others will sense it, too.”2 In Pasar (Market), Adolfs effectively captures the gaiety inherent to a humble way of life, evident in his cheerful use of colors, “where everything dances and whirls, where nature, people and objects are like motley spots of color fading away into a blazing, all-absorbing light.”3

1Eveline Borntraeger-Stoll, Gianni Orsini, Gerard Pieter Adolfs: The Painter of Java and Bali, 1898 - 1968, Frans Jansen, Pictures Publishers, Wijk en Aalburg, The Netherlands

2 Refer to 1

3 Refer to 1