With Brian Koetser, London, from whom acquired by Baron van Dedem, 10 July 1975.
J. Howarth, The Steenwyck Family as Masters of Perspective, Turnhout 2009, pp. 260–61, no. II. E 26, reproduced p. 539 (provenance erroneously given as 1st Viscount Chandos).
Interior with a lady and a gentleman was considered by Peter Sutton and Jeremy Howarth to be the probable pendant to The courtyard of a palace, a small circular panel, its present whereabouts unknown.1 The two paintings were offered together in a sale at Sotheby’s in 1975. It is arguable whether they were ever a true pair, for their diameters differ (the present work is smaller by at least 2 cm.); the frames at the time of the Sotheby’s sale did not conform; and the figures dominate their respective picture spaces to varying degrees: the couple in the present work occupies a larger proportion of the space than the more diminutive figures in the outdoor scene.2
A specialist in architectural settings, Steenwijk was recognised by Karel van Mander as having a reputation for fine and innovative work. Probably best known for his paintings of church interiors, he also depicted torch-lit dungeons and, though much less common in his work, domestic interiors such as this unusually small example. The work is dated but the third numeral has been brought into question. Sutton has argued convincingly that this picture and others similar to it were painted in the first decades of the century. The style of the interior, with its thread-like application of paint, is comparable for instance to a roundel on copper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which depicts a Renaissance portico with elegant figures of about 1615;3 it is also a feature of later light-filled scenes such as Saint Jerome in his study, a signed and dated work on copper of 1624 or 1626 in a UK private collection.4
1 Howarth 2009, p. 139, no. II. A 21, reproduced in black and white on p. 425 top (incorrectly captioned); 7.5 cm. diameter.
2 This roundel is painted on metal (listed by Howarth as on panel); the other may also be on a metal support but is listed as on panel.
3 Howarth 2009, pp. 134–35, no. II. A 6, reproduced in black and white on p. 418; 24 x 34 cm.
4 Howarth 2009, p. 236, no. II. D 6, reproduced in black and white on p. 511; 24 x 34 cm.
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