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    Sale 2811

    European Noble and Private Collections

    24 - 25 June 2008, Amsterdam

  • Lot 218



    Price Realised  


    The cup decorated with dancing nymphs and a faun, the circular foot with arabesques and a grotesque mask
    14 cm. high x 9.2 cm. diam.

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    Pre-Lot Text


    (LOTS 218-343)

    A Life Devoted to Art

    Each visitor walking up the steps to the Huys Anno 1624 in Hoorn, lucky enough to be welcomed inside, was immediately overwhelmed by the experience of entering a past world. The house was built for a seventeenth century merchant and breathed its history from every corner, from the oak spiral staircase leading to the merchant's office overlooking the harbour of Hoorn and the house's imposing entrance inviting guests onto the floor laid with estrikken tiles. A door to the right of the hall would lead to the former warehouse next door, restored in 1965 to an eighteenth century rococo dream exquisitely filled with kwab tables, luxurious tapestries and paintings.

    The Huys Anno 1624 looked like and even was a museum for some time, until nimble-fingered visitors forced John de Visser and his beloved wife Pien Wiegand to close the doors to the public. But still they were generous in sharing the beauty they lived in with whoever expressed sincere interest in their collection. They had met when both studied history of art at the University of Amsterdam in the 1930s. Pien Wiegand at the time organized exhibitions of contemporary artists. John de Visser had learned to appreciate art from a young age on.
    His mother, Mimi De Visser-Roelofs, supported the painter Jaap Weijand (1886-1960) who worked as a luminist in his early Amsterdam years. Later he formed part of the Bergense School in Noord-Holland. The large collection of paintings by Jaap Weijand in his parental home in Bloemendaal must have shaped the young John's eye for light and colour.
    John's uncle Renze de Visser was a patron of the applied arts. In 1916, the year his nephew John was born, he gave Frans Zwollo sr. (1872-1945), his largest assignment. Zwollo, the most important Dutch silversmith of the 20th century, designed an extensive silver cutlery and tableware service bearing the coat of arms of the De Visser family. The exquisitely chiselled and hammered service comprises flatware, tureens, wine-coolers, large candlesticks and serving-plates, all incorporating three stylised fishes. In 1921 Renze de Visser was one of the founders of the RAM pottery factory in Arnhem, where Theo Colenbrander (1841-1930) would execute his revolutionary designs. John de Visser inherited both his mother's eye for colour and fine arts, as his uncle's love of decorative arts.

    John de Visser was gifted with a so-called 'photographic eye'. Anything he had seen over the years, whether located in a German castle or a Lugano villa, he would be able to trace immediately in one of the many art books and magazines that piled up in his house. And if he had a specific liking for a piece which he could not obtain because it was stuck in a collection or too highly prized even for this man of means, he had no scruples to photocopy the piece and integrate it as a trompe-l'oeil in his interior. And then, when a guest was allowed to look around and investigate, small mysteries would throw itself on his path. Were these flowers real or fake? Was it genuine gold and marble lining the floors and walls or had the master of the house used his magical brush to invoke even further mystery?

    As much as he cared for his paintings and antiques, he would have appreciated new 'eyes for art' to fall in love with the treasures he lived with.