Property from a European Private Collection
GOVERT FLINCK | A young lady playing the lute to a young man reading, or An allegory of sight and hearing
Estimate: 30,000 - 40,000 GBP
Property from a European Private Collection
Kleve 1615 - 1660 Amsterdam
A young lady playing the lute to a young man reading, or An allegory of sight and hearing
signed lower centre: G. flin...
and formerly dated: 1643
oil on canvas
86.3 x 107.3 cm.; 34 x 42¼in
The canvas is lined, and the paint surface is slightly dirty with a clear varnish. There are discoloured spot retouchings visible scattered in the background and in around the violinist's hand in the centre. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals an uneven varnish underneath which the aforementioned retouchings are made visible, as well as a few further scattered fine lines and tiny spots mostly to reduce the appearance of craquelure in the main composition. There is more notable retouching to a repaired damage in and just below the violinist's proper left hand approx 2 x 6 cm. In overall good condition
"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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Anonymous sale, Lucerne, Fischer, 23–25 August 1928, lot 301;
With Julius Böhler, Munich, 1929 (when advertised in The Art Newspaper, 19 October 1929);
With Legère, Brussels, 1934;
With E. Lyndhurst, Brussels;
With Katz, Dieren, 1936;
Anonymous sale, Lucerne, Fischer, 30 August – 4 September 1937, lot 1627 (as dated 1643);
Max Zürcher, Lucerne, by 1961;
Anonymous sale, Bern, Jürg Stuker, 23 May 2003, lot 1192, where acquired by the present owner
Detroit, Museum of Fine Arts, The Ninth Loan Exhibition. Dutch Genre and Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, 16 October – 10 November 1929, no. 23 (lent by Bohler and Steinweyer, New York);
Leeuwarden, Fries Museum, Herdenkings-tentoonstelling Lambert Jacobsz., 27 June – 27 September 1936, no. 33.
G. Isarlo, 'Rembrandt et son entourage', in La Renaissance, no. 19, 1936, p. 34;
A. Wassenbergh, Herdenkings-tentoonstelling Lambert Jacobsz., exh. cat., Leeuwarden 1936, p. 24, reproduced;
J.W. von Moltke, Govaert Flinck, Amsterdam 1965, pp. 26, 29 and 101, cat. no. 170, reproduced;
W. Wegner, 'Rezension von: J.W. von Moltke, Govaert Flinck', in Kunstchronik, vol. XIX, 1965, p. 102;
Bilder und Plastiken 15. bis 19. Jahrhundert: Sammlung Zürcher, vol. I, Lucerne 1970, cat. no. 22, reproduced;
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, vol. II, Landau/Pfalz 1983, p. 1023, cat. no. 627, reproduced p. 1059.
Painted in 1643, the present work represents for Flinck a rare foray into genre painting, the vast majority of his multi-figured compositions illustrating either an episode from history, mythology or the bible. In the smooth application of paint and plastic modelling of the hands and faces it is also a departure from the style of his master Rembrandt van Rijn and, when considered together with the subject matter, appears to be an emulation, or homage to, the great genre painters, or Northern Carravaggists, active principally in Utrecht in the 1620s. Stylistically, the painting may be very closely compared with the Hagar and the angel (fragment) in the J. Paul Getty Museum, which Sumowski also dated to 1643.1
Both Sumowski and Von Moltke note that the original dimensions were 111.5 x 111.5 cm., a section at the top of 24.5 cm. having been removed and 2 cm. at both vertical edges. There is a record of a painting in the Witt Library, in a photograph from when it was with Ulrich Jaeger, which may depict the present work before the supposed cutting down. In it, there is a third figure, standing behind and between the two central figures, holding a long wine glass. If the ex-Jaeger picture is indeed the present work then Moltke and Sumowski are correct and the third figure must have since been painted out. However, the date on the ex-Jaeger picture is given as 1644 and the dimensions 108 x 108 cm. (not as 111.5 x 111.5 cm. as Moltke and Sumowski catalogue it) and it may thus be that it is another version made a year after the present work, and which is now lost. Unfortunately there is no date given alongside the Jaeger image although if it is the same as the present work, it would have to be from prior to 1937 when the Fischer catalogue shows the present work in its current form (see Provenance).
1 See Sumowski 1983, p. 1023, cat. no. 628, reproduced p. 1060.