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Jacques de Claeuw (Dordrecht c. 1623-after 1694 Leiden)
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF JOHN MICHAEL MONTIAS Through his expert interweaving of the fields of economics and art history, John Michael Montias (1928-2005) transformed our understanding of the art market and collecting in the 17th-century Netherlands, as well as greatly enhanced our knowledge of the great painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Johannes Vermeer. His scholarly research served as the foundation for Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl with a Pearl Earring of 2001 and the subsequent film, which instilled in the broader public familiarity and appreciation of Vermeer. Born in Paris, Montias was the son of Jewish parents who sent him to the United States in 1940. After attending school in Buffalo, New York, he studied at Columbia University, where he received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees. Montias served in the United States Army from 1954-1956 and in 1958 completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics, also at Columbia, with a focus on the economics of Eastern Europe. Soon thereafter, he became a Professor of Economics at Yale University, where he remained for his entire career. At Yale, Montias met the art historian Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, who engaged him in the connoisseurship of Dutch art, which in turn prompted him to pursue his longstanding interest in the economics of the art market in the 17th-century Netherlands. In 1978, he spent a year at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS). To conduct his research, Montias taught himself modern Dutch and 17th-century Dutch paleography, and proceeded to scour archives throughout the Netherlands. This work led him to determine that an in-depth study of a single Dutch guild was needed, and in 1982 Princeton University Press published his Artists and Artisans in Delft, a Socio-Economic Study of the Seventeenth Century. In the course of this project, he found unrecorded archival material related to Vermeer, and in 1989 published Vermeer and His Milieu: a Web of Social History. Montias discovered Vermeer's patron, Pieter Claesz. van Ruijven, yet in an interview from 2003, he commented, "But the contribution that I most enjoyed making was to reconstruct the hitherto obscure lives of various members of Vermeer's family, including his mother's father who participated in a counterfeiting scheme in which his partners were beheaded." In the wake of these publications, Montias's approach, in which archival material and an economic perspective were used to examine the culture and context in which 17th-century artists and art collectors lived and worked, became a major force in the discipline of art history. In 2003, Montias moved beyond Delft with his book Art at Auction in 17th-century Amsterdam, an analysis of the art auctions, dealers and collectors who had documented links with contemporary artists. For this text, Montias used information he had compiled from the Gemeentearchief (now the Stadsarchief) in Amsterdam, which included data from over 1,200 inventories of Amsterdam collectors from 1597-1681. A significant contribution to the field, his research became available to all students and scholars following his death in 2005, when it was made public online through the Frick Art Reference Library, New York. A testament to scholarly collaboration, the Montias Database shares invaluable material related to the art market and art collecting in the early modern Netherlands.
Jacques de Claeuw (Dordrecht c. 1623-after 1694 Leiden)

A skull, globe, pipe, quill pen, books and papers on a draped table

Details
Jacques de Claeuw (Dordrecht c. 1623-after 1694 Leiden)
A skull, globe, pipe, quill pen, books and papers on a draped table
signed and dated 'J** 1647' (upper left)
oil on panel
6 1/8 x 7½ in. (15.6 x 19.1 cm.)

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Lot Essay

Jacques de Claeuw's small surviving body of work is comprised mostly of Vanitas pictures. Trained by the marine and still-life painter Abraham van Beyeren (1620/21-1690), de Claeuw was active in Dordrecht, The Hague, and Leiden between 1642 and 1655. In 1651, he settled in Leiden and married Maria van Goyen, becoming son-in-law to the celebrated Dutch landscape painter Jan van Goyen (1596-1656) and brother-in-law to Jan Steen (1626-1679).

The warm, earthy tonality of this sensitively-observed, intimately-sized image finds close parallels in de Claeuw's paintings of the 1640s. Light falls from the left, catching the edges of the piece of paper and darting across the skull, pipe, and pen in tiny flashes of white. The confident, sketchy style that characterizes this work recurs in a similar unusually small panel that was with S. Nijstad in The Hague, monogrammed and dated 1641 (see L.J. Bol, Holländische Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts: nahe den grossen meistern, Braunschweig, 1969, pp. 96-97, fig. 82). Bol has noted the swift, "passionate" and "impressionistic" handling of that work, which also characterizes the present painting (L.J. Bol, op. cit., p. 97).

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