Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (Dutch, 1828-1903)
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Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (Dutch, 1828-1903)

A painter (W.B. Tholen ?) at work in a punter on a sunny day

Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (Dutch, 1828-1903)
A painter (W.B. Tholen ?) at work in a punter on a sunny day
signed 'Gabriel f' (lower right)
oil on canvas
33 x 53 cm.
Anon. Sale, Venduhuis der Notarissen The Hague, March 1938, lot 51.
Anon. Sale, Frederik Muller & Cie. Amsterdam, June 1942, lot 13.
Kunsthandel Huinck & Scherjon, Amsterdam, 1962.
Anon. Sale, Mak van Waay Amsterdam, 15 April 1975, lot 37.
Kortenhoef, Oude Kerkje Kortenhoef, Meesters van het Polderlandschap, 20-25 June 1983.
Eindhoven, Museum Kempenland, De Haagse School-Thema van een Collectioneur, 4 July-6 September 1992, 37, ill.
Mol, Jacob Smits Museum, 30 March-28 April 1996, no. 2
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Lot Essay

One of the characteristics of the Hague School, which manifested itself in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, was its representatives' preferred method, following the French Barbizon School, of painting from nature in the summer months, equipped with a paint box, sometimes a light, folding easel, and often a parasol. Many oil sketches were produced in this way. Some of the artists, fascinated by the Dutch polder and water landscapes, used 'floating studios', as illustrated in this painting by Gabriël, a foremost representative of the Hague School, who portrayed one of his friends, in this case probably his pupil Willem Bastiaan Tholen at work in a boat, seated under a white parasol. It was probably painted in the vicinity of Kampen in the province of Overijssel, and is dateable to about 1882. In 1879 Tholen was a pupil of Gabriël in Brussels, and the two became friends. In 1880 and for several years thereafter they spent the summer together in Kampen, where Tholen's parents lived. The watery region around Kampen and Giethoorn, with its lakes and peateries, presented Gabriël with a number of subjects that recurred repeatedly in his repertoire. An important example is The Kampen Peatcutters in the collection of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. (W. Loos a.o., Langs velden en wegen. De verbeelding van het landschap in the 18de en 19de eeuw, exhib. cat., Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) /Zwolle 1997) With a borrowed boat, Gabriël and his young companion painted the peat landscape and the windmills at Giethoorn, generally on a small canvas pinned to the paint box. They also made many sketches that were later worked up in the studio as monumental paintings such as The Kampen Peatcutters. And each of them was apparently attracted to the idea of portraying the other at work in the boat, resulting in portraits both picturesque and of documentary value. One such painting, executed by Tholen in 1882, shows Gabriël painting in the boat, likewise under a white parasol, with his paint box on his knees (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam). (M. Peters a.o., Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël (1828-1903). Colorist van de Haagse School, exhib. cat., Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) Zwolle 1998, no. 79). In 1884 Gabriël settled in The Hague, followed a few years later by Tholen.

The fresh-toned oil painting presented here in a finely gilded contemporary frame (from the renowned Leiden firm, D. Sala & Zonen) is a particularly attractive example of the portraits each artist painted of the other while working en plein air, probably for their own amusement. The accomplished technique suggests that Gabriël painted the work in the studio from a drawing sketched in situ, largely in black chalk. A similar drawing of a man in a boat amidst reeds is in the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (J. Sillevis a.o., De Haagse School. De collectie van het Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague 1988, no. 84). The literature mentions another oil sketch by Gabriël of Tholen painting under a parasol, but in this instance on land (A. de Jong, Willem Bastiaan Tholen (1860-1931), exhib. cat., Gouda, (Catharina Gasthuis), 1993, p. 24, ill. 21).

We wish to thank Drs Wiepke Loos for preparing this catalogue entry.


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