Lot 230
  • 230

Edwaert Collier

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Edwaert Collier
  • Vanitas still life with a candlestick, books, musical instruments, an astrological globe, a pocket watch, and an hourglass all on a draped table
  • signed center left: E. Colyer fec.
  • oil on panel


Sale, Amsterdam, Mak van Waay, 20 December 1927, lot 10;
Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst, Hoevelaken (1866-1939);
By inheritance to N.J. van Aalst, Hoevelaken; 
With D. Katz, Dieren;
With Haboldt & Co., New York and Paris;
With Otto Naumann Ltd., New York.


Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Kerst tentoonstelling: Nederlandse meesters uit particulier bezit, 21 December 1952 - 1 February 1953, cat. no. 15;
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Nederlandse stillevens uit vier eeuwen, 17 July - 31 August 1954, cat. no. 35;
New York, National Academy of Design, Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections, September 1988, cat. no. 13.


A.J. Adams, Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections, exhibition catalogue, New York 1988, p. 45, cat. no. 13, reproduced p. 30.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is in beautiful condition. It is on an oak panel with no reinforcements on the reverse. The paint layer is stable and the panel is flat. The work is slightly dirty and the varnish is dull. The only area which may have retouches is the upper background in the upper center and upper left, where the paint layer has become slightly thin. There is a visible horizontal wood grain to the panel, but there is no reason to suppose that this has become any more visible since the work was painted.
"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

Collier was born in Breda and trained in Haarlem in the early 1660s, where he is recorded in a list of guild members.  His residence in Leiden is fully documented from 1667 to 1693, after which he left for London where he worked until returning to Leiden from circa 1702 to 1706.  It appears that he returned to England by 1707 as his last known work is dated to that year and inscribed fecit London.

Collier produced vanitas still lifes throughout his career and this beautifully rendered example has been dated to his Leiden period.1  Here he has included many of the standard vanitas elements that would have been instantly recognizable to his audience:  the hourglass, pocket watch, and candle that has been snuffed out (denoting the passage of time and the brevity of life); the musical instruments (the fleeting pleasure of music); and the astrological globe and scholarly books, here including Plutarch’s Lives (the vanity of learning).  All represent the transience of earthly existence and the vacuity of worldly pursuits.  For further emphasis the artist has included the quintessential vanitas text, from Ecclesiastes 1:2, on a piece of paper at the center of his composition: Vanitas/Vanitatum/Et Omnia/Vanitas (Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity).

Another very similar small-scale vanitas by Collier, on a panel of almost identical size, is in the collection of the Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig (Inv. Nr. 1486).  Based on dendrochronological testing, the Leipzig painting has been dated to circa 1680.


1.  See RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie), The Hague, Art-work number 107985.