ATTRIBUTED TO D. WITTING | VANITAS STILL LIFE WITH A SKULL, BOOKS, STRING INSTRUMENT AND PEACOCK FEATHER ON A TABLE
Property from the SØR Rusche Collection
ATTRIBUTED TO D. WITTING
active Amsterdam (?) 1630 - 1540
VANITAS STILL LIFE WITH A SKULL, BOOKS, STRING INSTRUMENT AND PEACOCK FEATHER ON A TABLE
oil on oak panel
unframed: 33.7 x 48.1 cm.; 13¼ x 19 cm.
framed: 79.5 x 66 cm.; 31¼ x 26 in.
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The panel is uncradled, flat and stable. The paint surface is clean and the varnish only slightly discoloured. There are no damages visible to the naked eye. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals a thick varnish underneath which tiny spot retouching is visible, scattered in the background, end table; the still life elements remain largely untouched save for a few small spots in the books and a handful of pinprick retouchings in the skull and object to its left. In overall good condition.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, At Home in the Golden Age, 9 February – 18 May 2008, no. 127.
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The attribution of this still life to the virtually unknown D. Witting is due to Dr. Fred G Meijer, and was first given at the time of the 2008 sale in Vienna (see Provenance).
The present panel bears close comparison with another still life published by Dr. Meijer that also features stringed instruments, skulls, feathered quills and books, which in turn relates to a painting of an artist's workshop showing a pupil at work on the still life in front of him.
These two paintings and the Rusche still life are, in their inclusion of the same motifs and objects, and in the artist's powerful and dramatic illumination of the overall composition and the soft treatment of the fabrics, thought by Dr. Meijer to be by the same hand as Two tric-trac players observed by a young man, that is signed D. Witting, and dated 1630 (sold London, Christie's, 20 April 2005, lot 26).
Whomever D. Witting was, his works certainly bear stylistic similarities with the work of artists such as Pieter Codde, Willem Duyster and Dirk Hals, active in both Amsterdam and Haarlem. Dr. Meijer notes that D. Witting does not appear in the guild records of Haarlem, and those of Amsterdam no longer exist. Given the limited number of works that can be ascribed to him it seems reasonable to suggest that D. Witting painted the works discussed above at a young age, and died shortly thereafter.
1 F.G. Meijer et al., Music and Painting in the Golden Age, exh. cat., The Hague 1994, pp. 322-325, cat. no. 46, reproduced p. 323.
2 Ibid, p. 324, reproduced fig. 1.
3 Ibid, p. 324, reproduced fig. 2.
4 Ibid, p. 325; see J. Rosen, 'The obscure D. Witting and the art of painting in Amsterdam in the 1630s', in Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies 36, 2015, no. 2, p. 71.