Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 66. Rural landscape with two cows before a church, possibly Diemen.

Anthonie van Borssom

Rural landscape with two cows before a church, possibly Diemen

This lot has been withdrawn

Lot Details


Anthonie van Borssom

(Amsterdam 1630 - 1677)

Rural landscape with two cows before a church, possibly Diemen

Pen and brown ink and grey wash, over indications in black chalk, within brown ink framing lines;

bears inscription in pencil, recto, lower right: fm or sm; verso: A van Borssum / Coll. a. g. de Visser, Amsterdam / (Kat. No. 44) / Mai 1881 / A g / Village de Diemen; bears numbering, lower left: 5346

156 by 242 mm

A.G. de Visser, The Hague (according to pencil inscription, verso, described in C.G. Boerner catalogue as in the hand of A. von Lanna),

possibly in one of his sales, Amsterdam, May 1881, lot 44 (according to pencil inscription, verso);

Baron Adalbert, Freiherr von Lanna (1836-1909), Prague (L.2773, with possibly associated pencil numbering: 48 (deleted)),

his sale, Stuttgart, Gutekunst, 6-11 May 1910, lot 111 (35 Mark to ‘Stroefer’);

Th. Ströfer;

Ernst Jürgen Otto, Celle (according to C.G. Boerner catalogue);

with C.G. Boerner, Düsseldorf (Neue Lagerliste 34, cat. 17), 1962

Despite its illustrious provenance, this rare, atmospheric landscape by Anthonie van Borssom has apparently remained unpublished, perhaps because it seems never to have been reproduced. It is, though, a fine, well-preserved example of the artist’s typical, atmospheric landscape drawings, and the attribution to Borssom has kindly been confirmed by Alice Davies, on the basis of a photograph.

Borssom is thought to have been a pupil of Rembrandt during the second half of the 1640s, but the majority of his works show relatively little stylistic debt to the master. Here, though, the subject and atmosphere are certainly reminiscent of some of the drawings that Rembrandt made during his famous walks around the outskirts of Amsterdam during the 1640s and '50s. The view itself has traditionally been identified as the church at Diemen, a village drawn many times by Rembrandt, and although the identification is not entirely certain, it is also not impossible. Diemen lies just outside the modern-day Amsterdam ring road, to the southeast of the city. 

Borssom was an extremely original landscape draughtsman, whose sparing style and great sense of atmosphere in some ways parallels what we see in the drawings of Rembrandt, but is also unmistakably individual. The most comparable to the present work among the artist’s other known drawings is the Watermeadows with Cattle, on the Outskirts of a Town, in the collection at Christ Church, Oxford.1 In that drawing, both the subject-matter and the handling are extremely similar to what we see here, and originally there may even have been a topographical association. In the Christ Church drawing, when Borssom made his first, light sketch in chalk to serve as the underdrawing for his pen and wash, he actually included a background with a tall church among trees, very much as in this drawing, but decided in the end to leave it out.

Although no connection can apparently be made between this drawing and any of the artist’s surviving paintings, it is interesting to note that two of the most similar in mood to this of Borssom’s other drawings are both among the very small number of drawings by the artist for which such a link can be established. The first of these is the immensely atmospheric Winter Landscape with Skaters, in the Maida and George Abrams Collection at the Fogg Museum, Harvard University2, and the second is the splendid, Broad River Landscape with boats, in the Peck Collection at the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.3

Rembrandtesque landscape drawings by Borssom like this one are extremely rare on the market. In addition to the Peck Collection drawing, sold in 2000 [SNY 26 January 2000, lot 30] for a record price for the artist4, the only remotely comparable sheets to have come to market in several decades are the two that appeared, by coincidence, in the same London sale in 2012.  

  1. A.I. Davies, The Drawings of Anthonie van Borssom, Doornspijk 2014, p. 32, cat. 3
  2. Harvard University Art Museums, inv 2011.515; Davies, op. cit., cat. 110
  3. Inv. 2017.1.10; Davies, op. cit., cat. 75
  4. Sale, New York, Sotheby's, 26 January 2000, lot 30
  5. Sale, London, Sotheby’s, 4 July 2012, lots 101 & 103