Old Master Drawings

Old Master Drawings

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Hendrick Avercamp

River landscape with a man and boy fishing, cows and a village behind

Auction Closed

January 27, 05:29 PM GMT


80,000 - 120,000 USD

Lot Details


Hendrick Avercamp

Amsterdam 1585 - 1634 Kampen

River landscape with a man and boy fishing, cows and a village behind

Pen and gray ink, watercolor and gouache, heightened with white, over black chalk, within black ink framing lines;

signed with monogram, lower right: HA;

with the numberings of Röver and Goll van Franckenstein (see provenance) and a further early numbering in brown ink, verso500

drawn on the back of a fragment of a religious text in Latin

93 by 150 mm; 3 5/8 by 5 7/8 in

Valerius Röver (1686-1739), Delft (L.2984a-c; his numbering 7/16);
Jhr. Johann Goll van Franckenstein, Jr. (1750-1821), Amsterdam (L.2987; his numbering N3019),
probably his sale, Amsterdam, De Vries, 1 July 1833 and following days;
sale, Amsterdam, 11 June 1912
Dr. Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930), The Hague (L.561),
his sale, Leipzig, C.G. Boerner, 4 November 1931, lot 6, reproduced pl.I;
Private Collection, U.S.A.
C.J. Welcker, Hendrick Avercamp 1585-1634, en Barent Avercamp 1612-1679, "Schilders tot Campen," Doornspijk 1979, p. 310, no. T 592

Although Hendrick Avercamp is perhaps best known for his ice scenes, his depictions of balmier times of the year are also extremely attractive and atmospheric. As we see in this fine example of one of his finished works in watercolor and gouache, these spring and summer landscapes typically show serene scenes with rural folk quietly going about their daily activities on the margins of the canals, rivers and estuaries that define the Dutch landscape. Here, a man fishes with a large net in a narrow stream, his son and dog watching patiently alongside him, while in the background a milkmaid attends to a cow, and to the left a waggon approaches a village.

In fact, Avercamp's drawings are very rare: fewer than 200 survive, nearly one third of those in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, and just three other substantial drawings by the artist have been sold at auction in the last quarter century.1 Marijn Schapelhouman, writing in the 2009-10 Amsterdam and Washington exhibition catalogue, gives a detailed description of the different types of drawings that he made, which range from rapidly sketched studies of single figures to highly finished watercolor compositions, some of them preparatory studies for prints.2 These watercolors, which are generally signed, like this one, with the artist’s monogram, were surely made as finished works, for sale to collectors.

The striking – and charming – motif of a man patiently fishing with a large, hand-held net, watched by his son and dog, is also seen in one of Avercamp’s greatest watercolours, in the Abrams collection, though there in the context of a more complex composition, and a more specific view (identified on the print that Simon Fokke made after the drawing as Ouderkerk aan den Amstel).3 A similar fisherman also features in a much simpler drawing of two figures on the ice near Kampen, which is part of the great group of Avercamp’s drawings in the Royal Collection.4 

The provenance of this rare watercolor by Avercamp reflects its significance and appeal: over the course of the last three centuries, it has passed through at least three of the most important collections of Dutch drawings: those of Valerius Röver, Johann Goll van Franckenstein, and, more recently, Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. Like so many of the finest drawings produced in 17th-century Holland, it seems at first sight so very simple and unassuming, but by combining down-to-earth directness with subtly refined technique and atmosphere, it encapsulates the very essence of Dutch rural life, and early 17th-century Dutch landscape drawing.

1. London, Christie’s, 10 July 2014, lot 40; New York, Sotheby’s, 25 January 2007, lot 71; Amsterdam, Sotheby's, 8 November 2000, lot 89

2. M. Schapelhouman, 'The Drawings, Reflections on an Oeuvre,' in Hendrick Avercamp, Master of the Ice Scene, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, and Washington DC, National Gallery of Art, 2009-10, pp. 84-117, figs. 108-110

3. W.W. Robinson, From Bruegel to Rembrandt, Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the Collection of Maida and George Abrams, exh. cat., London, British Museum, Paris, Institut Néerlandais, and Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 2002-3, cat. no. 84. 

4. Inv. RL 6476; C. White and C. Crawley, The Dutch and Flemish Drawings at Windsor Castle, Cambridge 1994, p. 156-7, no. 250