• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 7783

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours Day Sale

    9 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 108

    Willem de Poorter (Haarlem 1608-1649/68)

    The Idolatory of Solomon

    Price Realised  


    Willem de Poorter (Haarlem 1608-1649/68)
    The Idolatory of Solomon
    oil on panel
    15¾ x 12 3/8 in. (40 x 31.4 cm.)

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    It is generally supposed that Willem de Poorter received his artistic training in Rembrandt's Leiden workshop in the years around 1628-30. Although there is no documentary evidence to support this assumption, the similarities between de Poorter's small-scale biblical and historical paintings and Rembrandt's output from circa 1630 are so striking that it seems inconceivable that the two artists did not have close contact. The younger artist even made a copy (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) after Rembrandt's Presentation in the Temple (1631; The Hague, Mauritshuis). De Poorter's choice of composition and use of dramatic lighting were clearly inspired by Rembrandt's example, while his preference for smoothness and finely rendered detail point to the influence of Gerard Dou who worked in the same Leiden workshop from 1628.

    De Poorter is documented back in Haarlem in 1631 (the same year that Rembrandt left Leiden for Amsterdam), where he embarked on an independent career that would last less than twenty years yielding an oeuvre that today consititutes approximately fifty pictures. Sacrificial scenes were a recurrent theme in his work although their specific subjects are not always clear. This example was thought by Spencer-Churchill to depict the obscure story of Xuthus of Athens with his wife Creusa and her son Ion at Delphi, although Sumowski doubts this idea suggesting more plausibly that it depicts Solomon's Idolatory, a subject treated on other occasions by the artist, most notably in the picture in the Rijksmuseum (Sumowski, op. cit., no. 1610).

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    Jule Elliott, Westmoreland Street, London; Christie's, London, 31 October 1947, lot 127, as 'De Koninck - The Sacrifice of Moses' (42 gns. to Leggatt).
    Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill, M.C., Northwick Park; (+) Christie's, London, 25 February 1966, lot 114 (400 gns.), where acquired by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Property of a Family Trust (lots 101-108)


    E.G. Spencer-Churchill, The Northwick Rescues, 1912-1961, Evesham, 1961, p. 14, no. 48.
    W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, Landau/Pfalz, 1983, IV, p. 2412, no. 1635; p. 2448 (illus.).