Lot 5
  • 5

Jan van Huysum

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • Jan van Huysum
  • A still life of poppies in a terracotta vase, roses, a carnation and other flowers with a bird's nest on a marble ledge
  • signed lower left: Jan Van Húijsúm fecit
  • oil on copper


Jean-Denis Lempereur, Paris (according to Hofstede de Groot below, and according to the catalogue of the Clos sale below, withdrawn from the sale of his collection, Paris, Regnault, 27 December 1796) ;
Claude Joseph Clos, Conseiller d'État, Lieutenant-Général, Paris;
His deceased sale, Paris, Delaroche, 12 November 1812, lot 14, with companion lot 15, for 2,681 francs;
With Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun (1748–1813), Paris;
His deceased sale, Paris, Paillet, 27 December 1814, lot 86, with companion lot 85, sold for 600 francs;
Dr. Gerardus Munnichs van Cleef, Utrecht;
His deceased sale, Paris, Pillet, 4 April 1864, lot 48, for 7,050 francs;
With Eugene Slatter, London;
Sir Bernhard Eckstein Bt., London, 1948;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 8 December 1948, lot 17;
With Agnew's, London;
Isidore Ostrer, London, 1976;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 8 December 1976, lot 4, for £34,000 to Koetser;
Acquired by the late owners on 8 September 1977 for 490,000 Swiss francs. 


London, Slatter Gallery, Dutch and Flemish Masters, 1948.


J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. VI, London 1835, p. 477, no. 61;
Charles Blanc, Le trésor de la curiosité tiré des catalogues de vente de tableaux, dessins, estampes, livres, Paris 1857, vol. II, p. 292;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. X, London 1928, p. 359, no. 95;
Colonel M.H. Grant, Jan van Huysum, Leigh-on-Sea 1954, p. 21, no. 56.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Jan van Huysum. Flower piece. Signed Jan van Huysum fecit. This remarkable painting on copper was enlarged by the artist himself. It is supported behind by an old cradle with a seal perhaps dating back to its impressive early provenance. The initial smaller rectangular still life with the signature has been almost immaculately preserved, with retouching confined to the edges. The only other place within the original small still life that appears to have been touched since it was extended by the artist, is the upper background on the left where there are old touches, as also between the leaves at the top (recently re retouched) and in the vase near the putti. The edges of the inner rectangle have also apparently had a few readjustments of the retouching over time. However the miraculously intact detail of the inner still life, from the perfectly unworn final film of glazing in all the flowers, the leaves and the delicate intricacy of the bird's nest, suggest the care and stability of the painting's early history. The poppies and leaves in the outer section of the painting are equally exquisitely preserved, with the little convolvulus lower down and the butterfly above. There is a small recent retouching just below the butterfly and another by the upper tulips, but both in the background. And it is the background that has suffered in particular around the outer edges on all sides, from fragility and little raised flakes, some of which have started to fall. There is a long retouching at the centre of the top edge and various small retouchings at all the edges, for instance in the top corners, as well as along the base ledge. These fragile flakes around the outer edges need to be secured. The still life itself has remained extraordinarily pure and intact. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"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

With provenance traceable almost to its inception in the 1730s, this minutely detailed work on copper, datable to the 1730s, was conceived with a pendant depicting fruit. Both works were subsequently enlarged by Van Huysum.

Van Huysum first painted the central portion of this picture on a small rectangular copper plate, which he then signed before expanding the composition by inserting it in a larger upright copper plate (see diagram fig. A). He did the same with a fruit piece that formed the pendant to the present work (see fig. B, and diagram fig. C). Although they were sold on several occasions as consecutive lots, the pair remained together until the Eckstein sale at Sotheby's in 1948, where they found different buyers. There the pendant fruit piece was acquired by Lt Col. B.J. Montfort-Bebb, and passed to his widow in 1952. It is now in a private collection in Germany.

Why Van Huysum enlarged these two works remains the subject of conjecture. He might perhaps have conceived both as a pair of small flower and fruit pieces, and may have enlarged them at the request of a collector. Fred G. Meijer has kindly suggested that they were probably painted in the 1730s.

There are further instances of pendant still lifes of fruit and flowers on copper supports by Van Huysum, both of small landscape and larger upright formats, although no other enlarged works have come to light. Of the former type is a pair in The Mauritshuis, The Hague, both signed, each measuring 21 by 27 cm.; of the latter is a pair in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, each measuring circa 50 by 40 cm, and another in Schwerin, Staatliches Museum, each measuring 47 by 50 cm.1 Like the present picture and its companion, each of these pendant still lifes is signed. The Schwerin pair are dated 1742 and 1743, lending support to the idea that pendants were not always conceived as such from the outset but combined when sold. The compositional scheme of the present work's pendant, with a diagonal vine twig from upper right to lower left, a large vine leaf in the upper left, and peaches on a ledge to the lower left, is repeated in a work on copper sold London, Christie's, 8 July 1994, lot 72 (with a flower-piece pendant quite different in composition to the present example).

1.  See S. Segal et al., The Temptations of Flora. Jan van Huysum 16821749, exhibition catalogue, Zwolle 2007, pp. 217–20, nos F21 and F22, reproduced pp. 218–19, pp. 221–25, nos F23 and F24, reproduced pp. 222–23, pp. 270–74, nos F39 and F40, reproduced pp. 272–73.