RELEASE: The Pieter & Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master Paintings - London, July 2012

Christie’s announces the sale of The Pieter & Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master Paintings which will be offered in the Old Master & British Paintings Evening Auction on Tuesday 3 July.


Christie’s announces the sale of The Pieter & Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master Paintings which will be offered in the Old Master & British Paintings Evening Auction on Tuesday 3 July. The Dreesmann family name is synonymous with connoisseurship, passion and generous philanthropy in the arts. Crowned by Rembrandt’s masterpiece A Bust of a Man in a Gorget and Cap (estimate: £8 million -12 million), offered at auction for the first time in almost 40 years, the outstanding collection, formed by Pieter and Olga Dreesmann, comprises a group of 15 exceptional works by 17th Century Dutch Masters of the ‘Golden Age.’ The group constitutes the most important single-owner collection of Dutch paintings of this period to come to the market in recent years and is expected to realise in excess of £19 million.

Richard Knight, International Co-Chairman of Old Masters and 19th Century Art at Christie’s: “Led by a major Rembrandt, a Willem Van de Velde of incomparable finesse, and outstanding Still Lifes by Coorte and Van der Ast, this is a remarkably balanced collection of masterpieces that exemplifies the best aspects of Dutch Golden Age painting. It is a privilege to be entrusted with the sale of The Pieter & Olga Dreesmann Collection having represented the family in 2002 with a landmark auction for the late Dr. Anton C.R. Dreesmann. The sustained level of quality throughout and the provenance of the works are exceptional, with many having featured in key public exhibitions over recent years.  A collection formed with an eye for quality, rarity and importance, these works perfectly meet the expectations of discerning collectors today.

Pieter and Olga Dreesmann see their collecting as a continuum. They are presently re-focusing their interests and, having decided to part with these works, they are now creating irresistible opportunities for collectors to acquire the finest of the 17th Century Dutch School. The Dreesmanns’ enthusiasm, combined with their discerning eye when acquiring these works, will be an inspiration.

Pieter and Olga Dreesmann are active art collectors with interests that span from Antiquity to the 21st Century.  They are supporters of fundamental art research as founders of the Dr. Anton C.R. Dreesmann Fund, a dedicated research unit on Dutch 17th Century painting techniques at The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. They also support philanthropic causes linked to the care of children with genetic disorders and Special Needs. A portion of the proceeds of this sale will go to the above-mentioned charitable causes.”

Recognising the strength and international nature of the Old Master market and the wide-reaching appeal of works of this outstanding quality, the Collection, led by the Rembrandt, will tour the world in advance of the sale, travelling from Doha, Moscow and New York to Hong Kong and Amsterdam before the auction in London.

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669) is recognised to be one of the greatest and most influential artists in European history. This remarkable panel by the artist, A Bust of a Man in a Gorget and Cap, dated to 1626/27, captivates the viewer with an intensity that far exceeds its neat dimensions; it measures 15⅝ x 11⅝ inches (39.8 x 29.4cm) (estimate: £8 million -12 million). The work presents a masterful treatment of light to create drama, achieved in part by Rembrandt’s use of chiaroscuro, pointing to the influence of Caravaggio, to whom he is clearly indebted in terms of style in this work. Beautifully preserved and richly painted, the artist employs a subtle range of rich colours; the sharp light falling on the steel of the gorget imbues the subject with a startling reality and presence. This work was exhibited in the Rembrandt/Caravaggio exhibition staged by The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in 2006.

Christie’s has an unrivalled track record with Rembrandt, having sold the two most valuable works to have been offered at auction: Man with Arms Akimbo, in 2009 (£20,201,250/$33,210,855) and Portrait of an Aeltje Uylenburgh from the Collection of Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild in 2000 (£19,803,750 /$28,675,830).

The Collection features one of the finest paintings by Willem van de Velde II, Shipping in a Calm, which measures 22 ¾ x 18 inches (50.8 x 45.5cm) (estimate: £2.5 million – 3.5 million). In superb condition and offered at auction for the first time in over 15 years, this poetic work beautifully captures the movement and reflections of both light and clouds on calm water. Exemplifying Van de Velde’s technical excellence, the work has a particularly distinguished provenance having formerly been in the collection of the Rothschilds and latterly that of Enrico Fattorini. It is a masterpiece of its kind.  Christie’s recently set the auction record for the artist when Dutch Men-o’-War and other Shipping in a Calm realised £5.9 million, in December 2011.

The Collection comprises three very important works of intense quality by Adriaen Coorte (active 1683-1707):  Asparagus and Red Currants on a Plinth (estimate £1.4 million - 2 million); Gooseberries and Strawberries on a Plinth (estimate: £1.2 million - 1.8 million) and Peaches and Apricots on a Plinth (estimate: £800,000 - 1.2 million). Remarkably, these paintings have remained together since they were executed more than three hundred years ago. This is the first time they will have appeared at auction. All three works were exhibited in Ode to Coorte at The Mauritshuis, The Hague, in 2008.

A Still Life of Flowers, Shells and Insects on a Stone Ledge, by Balthasar van der Ast (1593 or 1594-1657) is a jewel in the artist’s oeuvre, depicting the charming conceit of flowers emerging from shells (estimate: £900,000-1.2 million). It is in excellent condition and an exquisite example of the Middleburg School of Still Life paintings.

The Interior of Nieuwe Kerk, Haarlem, seen from the South West by Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597-1665), dated 1658, is particularly notable as the artist has depicted a contemporary building designed by his friend, the architect, Jacob van Campen (1596-1657), as opposed to the medieval or gothic churches which constitute his usual subjects (estimate: £1.2 million – 1.8 million). 

The unfinished work A Portrait of a Man Receiving or Posting a Letter in an Interior attributed to Gonzales Coques (1614 or 1618-1684) provides a very rare glimpse into the technical process employed to construct paintings at this time (estimate: £70,000-100,000). It has previously been illustrated in this context alongside another work to be offered from the Collection: The Glass of Lemonade, by Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681) (estimate: £1 million - 1.5 million), in the catalogue to accompany the Ter Borch exhibition at The National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 2004.

Other outstanding works include Hendrick Avercamp’s (1585-1634) atmospheric Winter Scene (estimate: £1 million - 1.5 million), which was included in a monographic exhibition at The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and The National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 2009/2010. It is a work of enormous subtlety in which the artist cleverly invokes the chill of a late winter afternoon, with numerous figures going about their business in an icy landscape. In contrast, Salomon Jacobsz van Ruysdael’s (1600 or 1603-1670): A Wijdschip and other Small Dutch Vessels on a River depicts the changing light of a blustery summer day on the river (estimate: £600,000 - 1 million). The sale includes the following further works:

- Andries Benedetti (circa 1618 – after 1649): A Pronk Still Life with a Lute and a Sheet of Music (estimate: £80,000-120,000).

- Dirck van der Aa (1731-1809): Merry Putti, 1776 (estimate: £40,000-60,000).

- Govert Dircksz Camphuysen (1623 or 1624-1672): A Rustic Kitchen Still Life (estimate: £30,000-50,000).

- Petrus C. Staverenus (active 1634-1654): A Man in a Landscape, Raising a Beer Glass (estimate: £25,000-35,000).

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