19th Century European Paintings

19th Century European Paintings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 4.  WILLEM BASTIAAN THOLEN |  The Billiards Player.



Auction Closed

July 9, 02:03 PM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from an American Private Collection




The Billiards Player

signed and dated WB Tholen 96 lower left

oil on canvas

62 by 70cm., 24½ by 27½in.

Henri Arntzenius, The Hague (probably acquired from the artist)

Johanna Arntzenius-Bouvin, The Hague (widow of the above)

Thence by descent to the present owner, grandson of the above

R.S. Bakels. W.B. Tholen: 150 werken van zijn hand, den kunstenaar op zijn 70sten verjaardag aangeboden, The Hague, 1930 (as Biljartspeler (P. Meiners))

G. Knuttel, W.B. Tholen: met 5 reproducties in kleuren en 40 in zwart, The Hague, 1944

Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Minden, 1974, p. 884, no. 24, listed

Anneke De Jong, Willem Bastiaan Tholen, 1860 – 1931. exh. cat., Gouda & Assen, 1993

Unseen in public since 1930, the present work depicts Tholen's fellow artist and friend Piet Meiners in an interior at Ewijckshoeve, near Utrecht. Tholen met Meiners (1857-1903) while studying at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. The estate of Ewijckshoeve took its name from Justus van Ewijck who established it in the late seventeenth century; at the time the present work was painted it was rented by the family of painter Willem Witsen (1860-1923), a friend of both Tholen and Meiners, and all three artists painted there. 

A pupil of Paul Gabriël in Brussels, Tholen established himself as a landscape artist with views of the Hague and Scheveningen. More than almost any other in his oeuvre, the present work reveals his talent at portraying the human figure. The painting bears comparison with Parisian Impressionism, and Gustave Caillebotte in particular, through the informal composition, arbitrary cropping and the beautifully observed play of light from outside. The sleeping dog lends the interior an intimate sense of calm, which contrasts with the children's games in the field outside.

A version of the composition executed in watercolour, measuring 55 by 69cm and also with Arntzenius-Bouvin provenance, is in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum, the Hague. The present work was painted the year after Tholen's Self-Portrait in a Wooded Landscape, recently acquired by the Dordrechts Museum (fig. 1).

The retrospective exhibition Willem Bastiaan Tholen: A Joyful Nature will take place later this year at the Fondation Custodia, Paris (21 September - 15 December 2019), and then the Dordrechts Museum (9 February - 31 May 2020).