Old Masters

Old Masters

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 10. CASPAR NETSCHER  |  A YOUNG BOY AND GIRL BLOWING BUBBLES.

Property from a Private Collection, Florida


Lot Closed

June 11, 02:33 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection, Florida


Heidelberg (?) 1639 - 1684 The Hague


oil on panel

original panel: approximately 8 1/2 by 7 in.; 21.5 by 18 cm.

panel with additions: 11 by 8 in.; 28 by 20.5 cm.

framed: 17 3/4 by 15 1/2 in.; 45.1 by 39.4 cm.

Adriaen Bout, The Hague;

His sale, The Hague, 11-14 August 1733, lot 60 (for 205 florins to Da Costa);

Benjamin da Costa, The Hague;

By whom sold, The Hague, 13 August 1764, lot 42 (for 400 florins to Kok);

P.J. de Jariges;

By whom sold, Amsterdam, de Winter Yver, 14 October 1772, lot 21 (for 440 florins to Fouquier);

Randon de Boisset;

By whom sold, Paris, 3 February 1777, lot 143 (for 1600 francs to Duc de Liancourt);

Probably, Ange-Joseph Aubert;

Probably his sale, Paris, Paillet C. P., 2 March 1786, lot 23 (for 2301 francs to Miliotty);

Count Koucheleff-Besborodko, St. Petersburg (1834-1862), by 1842, cat. 1886, no. 53;

St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, by bequest of above, until at least 1913 (as by Eglon van der Neer, according to the 1973 sale catalogue);

Graf J.H. van Bernstorff, Starnberg;

By whom sold, Munich, Hugo Helbing, 1 March 1932, lot 469 (as by Eglon van der Neer);

Ragnar Aschberg, Sweden, by 1941;

Anonymous sale, Stockholm, Bukowski, 4 April 1973;

With J. Kraus, Paris, 1976;

With K. and V. Waterman, Amsterdam, 1983;

Linda and Gerald Guterman, New Bedford;

By whom sold, New York, Sotheby's, 14 January 1988, lot 27;

There acquired.


Cornelis Hubertus van Meurs, 1675-78 Amsterdam/Paris, inscribed: Nesker pinxit, C: H: Van Meurs Sculp Munich, Graphische Sammlungen.

This finely painted and intimate genre scene of two children blowing bubbles before a niche dates to the late 1660s, at which time Caspar Netscher was an established painter of cabinet pictures in the courtly city of The Hague. The painting is first recorded there in the collection of Adriaen Bout, who may have been its first owner, and who sold his collection in 1733. Restorations over time have changed the setting slightly: the stone niche may be a later addition, and in the auction catalogues of the 1970s the strips at the side and a ledge at the bottom variously appeared and disappeared in different photographs.1 When the painting was last sold from the Guterman collection in 1988, it was reproduced in error without the trompe-l’eoil border around the edge.

The popularity of this work and the composition is attested by an engraving made less than a decade after its execution by Cornelis Hubertus van Meurs of Amsterdam. The engraving includes a French inscription that makes clear the vanitas message of the painting: “Toute le Pompeux Eclat De Ce Vaste Univers,/ Les Brillants Couleurs q’Ont Le Nature et l’Art,/ Dans ce globe Ampoulle plus Frele que le Verre,/ Sont De la Vanite l’appange et la Part” [All the pompous radiance of this vast universe/ the brilliant colors of nature and art,/ in this globe blisters more frail than glass,/are vanity whole and part].

In addition to being a child’s pastime, blowing bubbles also carry a more somber association: their short life span and delicate nature remind viewers of the frailty of life and inevitability of death. In seventeenth century Holland, children and their games were interpreted as miniature life lessons. Artists like Netscher could thus combine the sweetness and innocent beauty of childhood playtime with a more serious message—the contradiction adds to the painting’s poignancy and offers an intellectual exercise for the viewer.

1. See M. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-Century Genre Painting, Doornspijk 2002, pp. 214-15, cat. no. 65