THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
His widow, Mrs Joseph, by whom sold with the entire collection to Knoedler in June 1911;
With M. Knoedler, London;
From whom presumably acquired by Henry Hirsch, 23 Park Lane, London;
His sale, London, Christie's, 12 June 1931, lot 23, for £294 to P. & D. Colnaghi, London, on behalf of Clive Cookson, Milburn House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and invoiced to him by Colnaghi on 20 July 1931, for £334. 8s;
Thence by descent to the present owner.
M.S. Robinson, Van de Velde. A Catalogue of the Paintings of the Elder and the Younger Willem van de Velde, London 1990, vol. I, pp. 426–27, no. 4 , reproduced.
Although the Van de Veldes left the Netherlands for England, probably via the Hoek van Holland to Harwich packet (which ran throughout the 3rd Anglo-Dutch War), at an unknown date in late 1672 or early 1673, this work, with exclusively Dutch small vessels, was probably painted while the artist was still in Amsterdam. It is very much in the tradition of his inshore calms that he painted throughout the 1660s and into the early 1670s: a summer's day with a light breeze just lifting the mast-head pennant flags; cumulus clouds accumulating over the sea; a number of figures engaged in unfrenetic activity; small vessels that are slowly being prepared for a gentle departure, with a figure hauling up the foresail of the left-most kaag. Usually Van de Velde has a figure in the foreground pointing: here three of the four men in or next to the rowing vessel in the left foreground are doing so, perhaps pointing out to the galjoot further out where she should anchor.
Three other versions of this composition are recorded by Michael Robinson, of which at least one shows substantial differences. Robinson noted that the present picture is 'much better painted than any other versions', and he considered it to be painted 'substantially by the Younger, 1672'.
To judge by his sale catalogue, Henry Hirsch's collection comprised almost equal numbers of Dutch landscapes and genre pictures and English portraits (the only picture that might have been an exception, a genre painting catalogued by Christie's as a signed work by the Le Nain brothers, is Dutch after all: the magnificent Jan Miense Molenaer now in the National Gallery, London). A further sale of his pictures took place in 1934, following his death.
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