After Adam Elsheimer
Circle of Adam Elsheimer (Frankfurt-am-Main 1578-1610 Rome)

Il Contento

Circle of Adam Elsheimer (Frankfurt-am-Main 1578-1610 Rome)
Il Contento
red chalk, pen and brown, black and grey ink, grey wash
11 7/8 x 16½ in. (30 x 41.8 cm.)
Charles Fairfax Murray, London.
Randall Davies; Sotheby's, London 10 February 1947, lot 102 (as Knupfer), to H. Calmann.
Frits Lugt, Paris, given as a gift by him to
Professor Jan van Gelder and Dr Ingrid van Gelder-Jost, Utrecht.
Private Collection.
J.J. Kutznetzov, 'Nikolaus Knupfer', Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Ermitage, VIII, 1964, 3, no. 26 (as Knupfer).
J.J. Kutznetzov, 'Nikolaus Knupfer', Oud Holland, LXXXVIII, 3, 1974, no. 26 (as Knupfer).
K. Andrews, Adam Elsheimer: Il Contento, Edinburgh, 1971, p. 16, fig. 6.
K. Andrews, Adam Elsheimer: Paintings Drawings Prints, New York, 1977, p. 150, under no. 19.
J. Saxton, Nikolaus Knupfer. An original artist, Doornspijk, 2005, no. D-B 6, pp. 240-241 (with wrong illustration).
R. Klessmann, Adam Elsheimer 1578-1610, exhib. cat. Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut and elsewhere, 2006, p. 137, under no. 25, note 11.
N.A. Serebrennikov, 'Elsheimer's ground', in Adam Elsheimer in Rom. Werk - Kontext - Wirkung, conference proceedings (Rome, 2004), Munich, 2008, p. 120, note 30.
Edinburgh, the National Gallery of Scotland, 1971 (on loan).

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Harriet West
Harriet West

Lot Essay

Il Contento, one of Elsheimer's greatest masterpieces (now in the National Gallery of Scotland) was left unfinished on the painter's death in 1610 and completed by another artist, probably before 1650. As first recognised by Dr Keith Andrews (op. cit., 1971), the present drawing is an important document as it records the painting as it was left by Elsheimer and the unfinished passages are left blank (for example, the little boy, and behind, a figure on a horse). The drawing must have been executed by one of Elsheimer's assistants in Rome before the painting left the city (possibly for Antwerp) around 1620. The attribution to Knupfer - for his painted copy in Munich, see J. Saxton, op. cit., no. 48 - suggested by J.J. Kutznetzov (op. cit, 1964 and 1974) has been rejected by Dr Jo Saxton (op. cit and more recently after examining the drawing in the original).

The drawing has belonged to a string of distinguished art historians who were also renowned collectors. It passed from the collection of Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919) to Randall Davies (1866-1946) before being acquired by Frits Lugt (1884-1970) who presented it as a gift to Professor Jan van Gelder (1903-1980) and his wife Ingrid Jost. Van Gelder was an outstanding connoisseur and historian of Dutch art who, after having been curator of prints and drawings at the Boymans Museum, was director of the Institute of Art History at Utrecht University and published numerous articles and books on Rembrandt, Jan van de Velde, Jan de Bisschop and Elsheimer. When Dr Andrews published his important monograph on Elsheimer in 1977 he dedicated it to Jan and Ingrid van Gelder. In his introduction he acknowledged the importance of two articles published by the van Gelders in Simiolus, which had 'sent out a shock-wave through Elsheimer studies and led one to look afresh at all the works...'

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