This rediscovered painting is related to a lost picture of Samson and Delilah of 1693 by Adriaen van der Werff that was formerly in the Gemäldegalerie of Sanssouci, Potsdam (see B. Gaehtgens, Adriaen van der Werff 1659-1722, Munich, 1983, p. 265, no. 42, illustrated). The Potsdam picture, almost identical in size and fully coloured, shows subtile differences in the facial expression of Delilah and the position of her left hand: while she rests her hand on Samson's shoulder in the Potsdam picture, she holds a lock of his hair between her fingers in this brunaille.
Professor Albert Blankert has, on the basis of a photograph, kindly suggested that the present lot might be a preparatory oil sketch for the Potsdam picture (written communication, 24 August 2007). However, the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam houses a drawing by Adriaen, that is considered to be the preparatory sketch (fig. 1). This drawing relates exactly to the Potsdam painting; Delilah's face matches and her hand rests on Samson's shoulder. The brunaille might thus be a solitary exercise.
Barbara Gaehtgens has remarked, based on a photograph, that the present scene returns in an engraving after Pieter van der Werff's Allegory of Painting of 1716. She has considered that perhaps Pieter could be the artist of the present lot. However, she points out that other brunailles by Adriaen van der Werff are very similar in execution and loose brush handling (written communication, 27 August 2007).
This work can in all likelyhood be dated around 1693, the date of the Potsdam picture.
We are grateful to both Professor Blankert and Mrs. Gaehtgens for their help in cataloguing this lot.