Lot 19
  • 19

JAN VAN DER VAART | Portrait of a violin

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  • Jan van der Vaart
  • Portrait of a violin
  • Please Refer to Departmentoil on canvas
  • 31 7/8  by 15 7/8  in.; 81 by 40.3 cm.


Pan Art Fair, Amsterdam, by 2009;
Where acquired by Saam and Lily Nijstad;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 7 July 2011, lot 117;
Where acquired by the present owner.


S. Nijstad, De viool hing in Haarlem, The Hague 2010, reproduced on the cover.


The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:Jan van der VaartOil on canvas, in a gilt wood frame in good conditionThe original canvas is lined and the paint layer is stable and secure.There is a small 1 cm repaired loss to the bottom left.The paint layer, generally, is well preserved. There has been slight abrasion of the pale background layer revealing the ground layer beneath, restoration to mitigate this has been carried out.Reduction of some of the more prominent dark shrinkage cracks has been undertaken.Minor strengthening of the thinly applied paint of the violin has been carried out, the highlights and fine details such as the strings are well preserved and the subtle modulation of the colours creating the trompe l'oeil effect of the violin is still very much in existence.
"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

Jan van der Vaart was a pupil of Thomas Wyck in Haarlem, but travelled to Naples, and to England, where he worked in London beginning in 1674 and remained until his death in 1721. Van der Vaart followed his teacher to London, and both worked under Willem Wissing, Court Painter to Charles II.  Van der Vaart worked for the Duke of Devonshire, and a very similar painting of a violin, depicted trompe l'œil hanging on a feigned door, is now at Chatsworth. In his Anecdotes of Painting, Horace Walpole (1717-1797) notes that Van der Vaart had painted in Old Devonshire House in London 'a violin against a door that deceived everybody'.Despite the house burning down in 1733 the painting was saved and moved to its present home at Chatsworth. It was recorded in the 1764 inventory in the Bedchamber at the foot of the Back Stairs inset into a cupboard; in 1836 it was installed by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in a State Drawing Room, possibly renamed the State Music Room in its honour, where it remains today inserted into a door.

Saam Nijstad speculated that the instruments portrayed may have been made by Hendrik Jacobsz. (1629-1699).2

Violins and viols are quite often included in Dutch 17th-century paintings, hanging on a wall, with the bow clamped between the strings and resting on a steep diagonal.  The most famous example of this is probably Judith Leyster's Young Fluteplayer at the National Museum, Stockholm.3

H. Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, 1762-1771, vol. II, p. 248.
2  Nijstad 2010, p. 3.
3  Nijstad 2010, p. 5, reproduced fig. 4.