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    Sale 2801

    19th CenturyEuropean Art

    14 October 2008, Amsterdam

  • Lot 243

    Cornelis Springer (Dutch, 1817-1891)

    Gezicht op de Heerengracht bij den Amstel in het einder der 17de Eeuw: Amsterdam in winter

    Price Realised  


    Cornelis Springer (Dutch, 1817-1891)
    Gezicht op de Heerengracht bij den Amstel in het einder der 17de Eeuw: Amsterdam in winter
    signed and dated 'C Springer 83.' (lower left); and signed and dated again and authenticated 'De ondergeteekende verklaard/dat deze schilderij: voorstellende/Gezicht op de Heerengracht bij den/Amstel in het einder der 17e eeuw/door hem is vervaardigd/Amsterdam/20 Sept.83 C. Springer' (on a label attached to the reverse) and with the artist's seals (attached to the reverse)
    oil on panel
    46.5 x 64.5 cm.

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    When considering Cornelis Springer's ancestry it becomes clear why he became the townscape painter par excellence: his father was a building contractor and all of his brothers were also either contractors or architects. Cornelis was educated by Andries de Wit (1768-1842), a house and carriage painter who also gave the young student the opportunity to engage with fine arts once his regular work was finished. Furthermore, Cornelis received architectural drawing lessons from his brother Hendrik.

    In 1835, following lessons from Jacobus van der Stok (1795-1864) and Hendrick Gerrit ten Cate (1803-1856) at the Amsterdam Academy, he studied under the auspices of Kasparus Karsen (1810-1896). By that time, Karsen was already a celebrated townscape painter. In the two years that Springer was his apprentice he learned how to create capriccio city views combined with topographically correct elements. From the mid 1850's, however, he dedicated himself to the representation of existing cityscapes.

    The present lot is a fine example of Springer's realistic representation of a city. Here he has depicted the picturesque Herengracht in his birth town Amsterdam, with the river Amstel beyond. He has, however, combined topographical accuracy with figures dressed in 17th Century clothing creating the appearance of Amsterdam in the Golden Age. His aim was to enhance the already beautiful façades with a fitting street scene. The buildings are distinctive for the Amsterdam city centre: the bell-formed gables, fronton and sash-windows are all emblematic of 17th Century Dutch design. The Willet-Holthuysen house can be seen on the left (Herengracht 605). Built between 1685 and 1687, today this monumental building houses the Willet-Holthuysen Museum which keeps an extensive art collection in rooms which still look the same as they would have done in Springer's time. This collection was brought together by Abraham Willet (1825-1888) and his wife Louisa Holthuysen (1824-1895).

    Although the Dutch Republic, and in particular Amsterdam had become very wealthy from trade, the Protestant lifestyle was dominant and therefore simple and austere beauty had become the norm. Paintings were often covered with curtains and in architecture simplicity of design had to be adhered to. To the modern eye this 'straightforward architecture' appears to be rather extravagant due the buildings many storeys and their ornamental garlands, especially those in the building on the very left of the present painting.

    Springer applied a diagonal compositional plan in this work. This angle allowed him to depict a larger area of the canal and the houses alongside compared to frontal vantage point. In this way he could represent a large number of 'Amsterdammers' on the ice. Elegantly dressed figures are carefully treading on the slippery surface of the ice whilst a beautiful sledge with gilt decorations is being pulled along by two splendid horses. Several skaters are heading towards the river Amstel but some are just warming themselves by the koek-en-zopie stand in the foreground.

    The present painting shows one of the most beautiful stretches of canal in Amsterdam as it would have looked during the Golden Age. This, combined with Springer's extraordinary attention to detail combine to form a captivating and very rare work of art.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €20,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €20,001 and €800.000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €800.000. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Acquired directly from the artist on 8 October 1883 by Goupil & Cie, The Hague (sold for f. 1300). Berko Fine Paintings, Knokke, 1985.
    MacConnal-Mason, London, 1989.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 11 April 1995, lot 21.
    Kunstgalerij Albricht, Velp, 1995, where acquired by the present owner.


    Willem Laanstra, H.C. de Bruijn and J.H.A. Ringeling, Cornelis Springer (1817-1891), Utrecht 1984, cat.no. 83-2, p. 207, ill., as: De Herengracht te Amsterdam aan de Amstel gezien, in de tweede helft van de 17e eeuw bij winter.
    Carole Denninger, Schilders van Amsterdam. Vier eeuwen stadsgezichten, Bussum 2000, cat.no. 37, p. 54, ill., as: De Herengracht te Amsterdam aan de Amstel gezien, in de tweede helft van de 17e eeuw bij winter.
    Carole Denninger, Amsterdam-365 Stadsgezichten, Bussum 2008, cat.no. 4, pp. 16-17, ill., as: De Heerengracht te Amsterdam aan de Amstel (gezien in de tweede helft van de 17de eeuw) bij winter.