Lot 108
  • 108

JAN JOSEFSZ VAN GOYEN | River landscape with figures and cows in a ferryboat, approaching a village

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
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  • River landscape with figures and cows in a ferryboat, approaching a village
  • Black chalk and grey wash, within black chalk framing lines and original margins;signed with monogram and dated in black chalk, lower right: VG 1653;bears numbering in brown ink, in top right margin: No=36, numbering in pencil, lower left margin: 314 and inscription in pencil, lower right margin: van goojen
  • 207 by 303 mm


Jonkheer Johan Adriaen Repelaer (1889-1966), The Hague,
sale, The Hague, Venduehuis der Notarissen, 7 November 1967, lot 143 (purchased by Alfred Brod);
with Alfred Brod, London, from whom acquired in 1967 by Peter Mertens,
from whom acquired in 1970 by the parents of the present owners


H.-U. Beck, Jan van Goyen 1596-1656, vol. I, Amsterdam 1972, p. 186, no. 554, reproduced;
W. W. Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt, Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exhib. cat., London, British Museum/Paris, Institut Néerlandais/Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, 2002-3, p. 249, n. 4 to cat. no. 18


Overall condition exceptionally good and fresh. Hinged to mount at top. Strip of brown paper (remains of old hinge) adhering to the top edge of the sheet, verso. Four pinholes, in corners of drawn framing lines. Very small thin spot in bottom right corner. Flaw in paper, top left corner, in margin. Some very light foxing, almost exclusively in the margins. Sheet and media within framing lines extremely well preserved.
"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

Beautifully composed, superbly preserved, and still retaining its original, broad margins, this particularly fine river landscape by Van Goyen encapsulates his gift for depicting humble Dutch rural life with a vitality and grandeur that not only engages and delights the viewer, but also somehow ennobles his subject-matter.  This scene is a hive of activity.  To the left, farmers transport cows across the river in two flat-bottomed boats, while on the shore to the right we see a washerwoman at work and other figures in boats, and further to the right a horse and cart make their way along the village street.  Even the surface of the farmhouse that forms the central focus of the scene is animated, in its dilapidation.  Throughout, the handling of light brilliantly adds to the action.

Van Goyen certainly made this drawing in the studio, as a finished work of art for sale, and would have based his composition on other, sketchier drawings, made on the spot.  Not only is it signed and dated (his working sketches generally are not), but it also retains the original framing lines and broad, blank margins that many finished 17th-century Dutch landscape drawings would originally have possessed, but which were, as Robert-Jan te Rijdt has noted, almost always removed by 18th-century mounters of drawings.1  Generally, these margins only survive on drawings that remained for a long time in one collection, presumably housed in albums, like the group of drawings from the collection formed around 1700 by Pieter van de Brande, which remained in the Van Pallandt family until they were auctioned in 1972.2  

The present drawing emerged at auction in much the same way in 1967, from the old Dutch collection of the Repelaer family. It was sold at that time together with seven other large drawings by Van Goyen, all, like this, dated 1653, and all equally well preserved, with their original margins. The eight drawings, all particularly fine works, must have remained together ever since they were made.3  They all also bear the same type of numberings in brown ink in the top right margin, presumably those of a dealer or collector.  Two of the drawings from the group are now in the Abrams Collection4, one belongs to Clement C. Moore5, and others are in private collections in Europe and the United States.

1.  R.J.A. te Rijdt, in Kleur en Raffinement, Tekeningen uit de Unicorno collectie, exhib. cat., Amsterdam, Museum het Rembrandthuis, and Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, 1994-5, p. 92, under cat. no. 39
2.  Sale, Amsterdam, Mak van Waay, 26 September 1972
3.  The others are Beck, op. cit., nos. 356, 357, 372, 389, 390, 434 and 555
4.  Beck, op.  cit., nos. 356 and 555; William W. Robinson, Bruegel to Rembrandt, Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Maida and George Abrams Collection, exhib. cat., London, British Museum, Paris, Institut Néerlandais, and Cambrige, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, 2002-3, nos. 18 and 19
5.  Beck, op. cit., no. 389; J.S. Turner, Rembrandt’s World. Dutch Drawings from the Clement C. Moore Collection, exhib. cat., New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, 2012, no. 25