This intriguing collaborative work between Jan ten Compe and Jacobus Buys, depicting the view made famous by Vermeer's painting of the scene, which dates from 1660-61, is one of a small number of drawings signed in this way with the names of both artists. How they actually collaborated is not, however, entirely clear, as the technique seems very much that of Buys, and there is no clear sign of two different hands at work in the drawing. The signature on the verso
also seems to be in Buys's hand, and one is led to wonder if perhaps he simply made the drawing on the basis of another work, a sketch from life by Ten Compe. The two artists knew each other well - Buys painted a portrait of Ten Compe - and they both worked extensively for the Amsterdam tobacco merchant, Frans van de Velde, the former owner of Buys's Astronomers,
lot 118 in the present sale. Intriguingly, when it was sold in 1784, the present watercolour was listed as being by not only Ten Compe and Buys, but also Jacob van de Velde (the son of the artists' patron).
As Dr. J.W. Niemeijer kindly informed us at the time of the 2004 sale, at least four other examples of such a collaboration are known, depicting the Nieuwe Tolbrug, Rijswijk, the house of Groenereld, near Ouderkerk, the Haarlemmerpoort of Amsterdam, and the Saint Laurence Church, Rotterdam.1
The Schiedam and Rotterdam Gates, with the Tower of Nieuwe Kerk to the centre right, are seen from across a harbor appearing much as they did one hundred years before. Only the demolition of the projecting twin towers of the Rotterdam Gate, to the right, differs from the scene which confronted Vermeer.
1. Respectively: The Hague, Gemeentearchief; Jonkman Collection, sale, Amsterdam, 1929, lot 674; formerly Leonhardt collection, Amsterdam, online sale, London, Christie's, 6 December 2018, lot 64; Vienna, Albertina, inv. 10703