FOLLOWER OF JAN STEEN | AN INTERIOR WITH THREE CHILDREN PLAYING WITH A CAT
Property Sold to Benefit the Acquisition Fund of the San Diego Museum of Art
FOLLOWER OF JAN STEEN
AN INTERIOR WITH THREE CHILDREN PLAYING WITH A CAT
oil on panel
panel: 21 ⅝ by 17 ⅞ in.; 55 by 45.5 cm.
framed: 29¼ by 25⅝ in.; 74.4 by 65.2 cm.
The panel, which appears to be made of one vertical board, is flat, cradled, and stable. The painting appears to be in overall good condition, and there are no significant losses or instabilities visible. The painting has a slightly dirty varnish, and there are some areas of thinness, but the image reads clearly overall. There are two very thin lines of retouching along the lower left edge, possibly to address old cracks. Inspection under UV light reveals a thick varnish that impedes some examination and beneath which may be an older campaign of restoration. There is some loose, brushy strengthening throughout, concentrated for example in the shadows of the background architecture, in the blue cloth held by the boys and in the boys' costumes and faces. Additional finer strokes of retouching are visible in all three figures' hair, costume, and faces, primarily in the darker tones, and some fine lines in the pot in the lower right and the stool in the lower left. The painting could certainly hang in its present state. Offered in a simply carved darkwood frame with a lighter toned liner.
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.
Mrs. Paul Foley, Long Beach, California, March 19, 1940;
Anne R. and Amy Putnam;
By whom gifted to the San Diego Museum of Art, March 1940 (inv. no. 1940.14).
C. Rothschild and J. Shapley, Parnassus, New York 1940, pp. 46-47, reproduced fig. 46;
J.G. Andrews, Catalogue of European Paintings, 1300-1870, San Diego 1947, p. 128;
The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego Catalogue, San Diego 1960, p. 31, reproduced fig. 31;
K. Braun, Alle tot nu toe bekende schilderijen van Jan Steen, Rotterdam 1980, p. 113, under cat. no. 185, reproduced fig. 185a (as a copy, and incorrectly listed as on canvas);
P.C. Sutton, Dutch Art in America, Washington, D.C. 1986, p. 347 (as follower of Jan Steen).
J.A. Welu and P. Biesboer, Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and her World, Zwolle 1993, p. 266, 268, reproduced fig. 25b (as Jan Steen).
This charming interior scene of three children playing with a cat that they have dressed in a bonnet follows an original painted by Jan Steen in about 1666. There are at least two other versions known of this composition, and the one formerly in the Van Horne collection that last appeared at auction at Sotheby's London on 3 December 1997 (lot 77) has long been considered the prime.1
The theme of children playing with a cat proved popular among Dutch Golden Age artists. Steen explored the subject on several occasions. The proposed pendant to the present composition is Steen's Children teaching a cat to read in the Kunstsammlung, Basel (inv. 1858.39),2 and two other similarly themed examples are today in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam—one illustrates Children teaching a cat to dance,3 and the other, titled the Parrot Cage, includes a detail of a young boy feeding a cat porridge in the lower left corner.4
1. The version offered at Sotheby's was oil on panel and measured 46.5 by 39.4 cm. Braun (1980) lists another copy on panel (41 by 36 cm) that last appeared on the art market in Berlin in the 1930s.
2. Braun 1980, cat. no. 184.