Jacob de Wit (Amsterdam 1695-1754)
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Jacob de Wit (Amsterdam 1695-1754)

Putti adorning an altar with flowers: feigned bas relief

Details
Jacob de Wit (Amsterdam 1695-1754)
Putti adorning an altar with flowers: feigned bas relief
signed and dated 'J.wit/F 1740' (lower right)
oil on canvas
43½ x 51¾ in. (110.5 x 131.5 cm.)
Provenance
W.J.R. Dreesmann, Amsterdam.
Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann (inventory no. A-39).
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

The artist was the leading eighteenth-century Dutch decorative painter, specializing in Rococo ceiling and room decorations and groups of putti painted naturalistically in colour or as imitation reliefs in grisaille, as in the present work. At the age of nine de Wit was apprenticed to Albert van Spiers (1666-1718), a painter of ceiling pictures and overmantels who had studied with Gérard de Lairesse and in Rome; from 1708 de Wit studied at the Koninklijke Academie in Antwerp and, from 1709 to 1712, with the history painter Jacob van Hal (1672-1718).

In 1713 de Wit became a member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke. He subsequentlt moved to Amsterdam where he established a thriving market for ceiling paintings, including those for the Raadhuis, The Hague, in 1738, of which only the grisaille corner pieces of putti with attributes of Temperance, Freedom, Fortitude and Industry are preserved (in situ). Of his smoothly painted grisailles - mostly of putti - imitating stucco reliefs, which were called 'witjes' (a play on his name, Wit [meaning 'white']), the earliest known example forms the corners to an oil sketch of Zephyr and Flora (1723; Toledo, Ohio, Museum of Art) for an untraced ceiling decoration. In 1743, he painted grisaille corner-pieces to Apollo Surrounded by the Nine Muses (The Hague, Mauritshuis). Among his finest imitation reliefs is the overdoor Joseph Gathering Corn during the Seven Years of Plenty for the Amsterdam Stadhuis (now Royal Palace).

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