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Johan Verwer (Haarlem active 1647-1660)
Johan Verwer (Haarlem active 1647-1660)

Study of climbing plants on a tree-trunk

Details
Johan Verwer (Haarlem active 1647-1660)
Study of climbing plants on a tree-trunk
signed 'J:V:' (verso, upper left) and further signed and dated '1659/7 van Johan Verwer' (verso, lower left)
pen and brown ink, grey wash, black ink framing lines
12 ¼ x 7 7/8 in. (31 x 20.1 cm.)
Provenance
The Verschraeghen brothers (L. 2513).
with R.W.P. de Vries, Amsterdam, from whom purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena on 20 December 1927 for 27 guilders and 65 cents (Inventory book: '390. t. Joh. Verwer bladeren').
Literature
I.Q. van Regteren Altena, 'Vergeten namen, II: Johan Verwer', Oud Holland, XLVII, 1930, pp. 167-8, pl. 2.
Thieme-Becker, XXXIV, Leipzig, 1940, p. 306.
L.J. Bol, Bekoring van het kleine, location unknown, [1963], no. 30, illustrated.
Exhibited
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, and Amsterdam, Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap, Bekoring van het kleine, 1959-60, no. 86, pl. 13 (catalogue by L.J. Bol).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 147, pl. 118 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).

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Lot Essay

The van Regteren Altena collection includes several examples of drawings by little-known Dutch masters, to whom the scholar devoted a series of articles in Oud Holland titled 'Vergeten namen [Forgotten names]'. One of these artists was Johan Verwer, a draughtsman from Haarlem about whom virtually nothing is known, and to whom only two drawings have been attributed. Van Regteren Altena published his article on Verwer three years after acquiring the present drawing, which is executed with great naturalistic verve and shows a variety of plants clustered at the base of a tree, including species of thistle, bindweed, valerian and hop. The signature and date on the verso are the only examples known by the artist, and it is on this basis that another drawing has been attributed to Verwer: a very closely comparable study of undergrowth in the British Museum, formerly attributed to Jan Wijnants (1632-1684) (Fig. 1; Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum, exhib. cat., 1984, no. 102). It was attributed to Verwer by An Zwollo (according to her inscription on a photograph in the RKD). Both sheets are distinguished by their crisp clarity and by the cool colours of the wash, which is built up in thin layers to offer a variety of tones and to suggest depth. The use of a thin brush and grey wash to delineate the veins on the leaves is also a feature of both drawings.

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