Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne
- Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne
- Winter Landscape with Elegant Figures
- signed lower left: AVenne
- oil on panel, circular
With Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam, 1961;
Alfred Brod, London, 1961.
Providence 1964, no. 24;
New York, Finch College, 1966, no. 40;
Birmingham 1995, no. 22;
New Orleans 1997, no. 56;
Baltimore 1999, no. 56.
Advertisement in The Connoisseur, October 1961, p. xxxiv, reproduced;
Providence 1964, cat. no. 24;
New Orleans 1997, pp. 142-144, cat. no. 56, reproduced p. 143;
Baltimore 1999, pp. 130-132, cat. no. 56, reproduced p. 131.
Although the larger, elegantly dressed figures in the foreground were possibly painted by another contemporary hand, the landscape and background figures are quite typical of Van de Venne’s early works. According to Cornelis de Bie, the artist’s biographer, Van de Venne possibly learned the basic principles of miniature painting from Simon de Valck. Such a technique suited the small-scale roundel format, and Van de Venne created a number of these during his early career, including a pair of roundels depicting Summer and Winter (Private Collection, Germany).3 These works, also painted on an intimate scale, bear notable formal and visual similarities to the Weldon composition. Extensive landscapes recede into the distance, finely painted figures imbue each scene with an extraordinary vitality, and large repoussoir trees on the left anchor both Winter scenes. Furthermore, the cloaked woman in the lower left of the Weldon painting, who warms her hands over a fire and who does not seem to be one of the larger figures added by the contemporary hand, appears in nearly the same place and posture to the Winter roundel in the private collection.
An infrared image of the present work reveals an incomplete underdrawing (fig. 1). Loose and sketchy lines have been used to delineate the figures on the ice and the building near the bridge. Moreover, a number of faint, straight lines not associated with any specific architectural or figural elements appear throughout the scene, possibly used to help lay out the composition. Similar underdrawings appear in other works by the artist from the same period, such as The Allegory of the Twelve Years' Truce (1616, Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. 1924).4
Edwin Buijsen (Mauritshuis/RKD), who is preparing a dissertation on the works of Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, has confirmed the attribution of this work after firsthand inspection and has suggested a possible date of execution before 1614/1615. He has also proposed that the larger figures in the foreground were possibly added by a another hand. We are grateful for Edwin Buijsen's assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.
1. The Weldon painting shares visual similarities with a work by Van de Venne's contemporary, Hendrick Avercamp: A Winter Scene with Skaters Near a Castle dated to 1608-09 (National Gallery, London, inv. no. NG1346).
2. In Dutch: Men schilderij tot iedereens behagen. This quote appeared in Zeeusche Mey-clacht, the artist’s contribution to a collection of poetry published in Middleburg in 1623. See L. Bol, Adriaen Pietersz. Van de Venne: Painter and Draughtsman, Doornspijk 1989, p. 20 and p. 21, under notes 15 and 25.
3. See Bol, op.cit., pp. 16-17, cat. nos. 5A and 5B, reproduced. The pair was sold at Sotheby’s, London, 30 November 1983, lot 71.
4. Ibid. p. 38, cat. no. 27, reproduced. The similarities in the underdrawings was noted by Edwin Buijsen (Mauritshuis/RKD) in private correspondence.