• Impressionist and Modern Art auction at Christies

    Sale 2828

    Impressionist and Modern Art

    17 November 2009, Amsterdam

  • Lot 49

    George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923)

    A horse-drawn cart in winter on the Looiersgracht, Amsterdam

    Price Realised  


    George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923)
    A horse-drawn cart in winter on the Looiersgracht, Amsterdam
    signed 'G.H. Breitner' (lower right)
    oil on panel
    26 x 45 cm.

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    When Breitner moved to Amsterdam in 1886 he became infatuated with the capital and started painting the city life in numerous sketches, paintings and photographs. His use of grey tones and quick brushstrokes proved to be perfect for depicting the hard city life. When photography became less expensive and more accessible, he incorporated this new invention in his work. He became an almost obsessive photographer of Amsterdam and its inhabitants. More than 2000 of his negatives are still known today (recorded in the archives of the RKD, The Hague). He used his photographs as study material to catch a certain atmosphere, the light and different weather conditions. Sometimes he used them as a direct example for his paintings, like he did in the present painting depicting the Looiersgracht in winter (fig. 1). On the left side of the painting one can still detect the vague contours of a female figure. An early photograph of this painting (recorded in the archives of the RKD, The Hague) indicates that originally there was a woman with a red hat on the painting. Possibly the dealer Van Wisselingh which whom Breitner had a contract, advised him to remove the figure in order to improve the chance of selling the work.

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    Mr. Anthonie Fokker (1890-1939), New York, thence by descent to the present owner.