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View from the Dunes out to Sea

View from the Dunes out to Sea
oil on panel
11 x 15 in. (27.9 x 38.1 cm.)
Johan van Nispen (1700-1776); his sale, The Hague, 12 September 1768, lot 116 (165 florins).
(Probably) Pieter van den Santheuvel, Dordrecht, and by inheritance to his widow,
Maria Adriana Gevaerts; van den Santheuvel sale, Dordrecht, 23 July 1810, lot 58, as a 'superlative little painting [...] The masts, figures and staffage are incomparably well drawn and superbly painted' (200 florins to the following),
with Nicolas François Beeckmans, Antwerp, from whom acquired for 800 florins before 15 September 1812 by the following,
Lucretia Johanna van Winter (1785-1845), Amsterdam, whose collection was merged into the Six van Hillegom-van Winter collection upon her marriage in 1822 to Hendrik Six van Hillegom (1790-1847), and by descent to their sons,
Jan Pieter Six van Hillegom (1824-1899) and Pieter Hendrik Six van Vromade (1827- 1905), and by descent; Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, 16 October 1928, lot 47, where described as signed (62,000 florins to Jan van Wisselingh on behalf of the following),
Anton Jurgens (1867-1945), London and Nijmegen.
Acquired shortly afterwards by Charles Peto Bennett (1856-1940) (m. Kristine Elisabeth ‘Kiss’ Gudde), and by descent to his son,
Alfred Edwin Peto Bennett (1905-1996), and by descent to the present owners.
Correspondentie over, en nota's van gekochte schilderijen door L.J. van Winter in dejaren I809 tot 29 october 1821, letter from N.F. Beeckmans to L.J. van Winter of 15 September 1812 confirming the dispatch of two paintings Lucretia had bought in Antwerp, unpublished manuscript, Six Archive Amsterdam.
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French painters, London, 1834, V, p. 211, no. 125, ‘It is impossible to commend too highly this delightful product of the pencil. The approaching tide, the white breakers, the breezy freshness of the atmosphere, and the local truth of the site, are admirably depicted’.
E. Michel, ‘Les Van de Velde’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, XXXVIII, 1888, p. 276.
F.C. Willis, Die Niederlandische Marinemalerai, Leipzig, 1911, p. XXII, illustrated.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1912, IV, pp. 562-3, no. 353, ‘An astonishingly fresh picture, obviously painted from nature’.
K. Zoege von Manteuffel, Die Kunstlerfamilie van de Velde, Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1927, p. 70.
M.J. Schretlen, 'Willem en Adriaen van de Velde', Maandblad voor Beeldende Kunsten, II, I934, p. 35.
W. Martin, De Hollandsche schilderkunst in de zeventiende eeuw, Amsterdam, 1936, II, p. 338.
W. Stechow, Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, London, 1966, pp. 108-109, fig. 215.
R. Priem, ‘The “Most Excellent Collection” of Lucretia Johanna van Winter: The Years 1809-22, with a Catalogue of the Works Purchased’ and ‘Catalogue of Old Master Paintings Acquired by Lucretia Johanna van Winter, 1809-22’, Simiolus: kunsthistorisch tijdschrift, XXV, nos. 2/3, 1997, p. 158; and Appendix II, p. 212, no. 40, illustrated.
B. Cornelis, Adriaen van de Velde : Dutch Master of Landscape, exhibition catalogue, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2016, p. 46, fig. 54, as 'Adriaen van de Velde (and Willem van de Velde the Younger?)’.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Schilderijen en familieportretten van de heeren Jhr. P.H. Six van Vromade, Jhr. Dr. J. Six en Jhr. W. Six, 1900, no. 149.
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Dutch art, I450-1900, 4 January-9 March 1929, no. 274.

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

An acclaimed early work by an artist many regard as the most talented of the van de Velde dynasty, View from the Dunes out to Sea has been admired since the early-nineteenth century for its freshness and originality. First described in 1810 as: ‘incomparably well drawn and superbly painted’ (see provenance), the picture was acquired two years later by the pioneering Amsterdam collector Lucretia de Winter, who owned three other pictures by the artist (for Lucretia de Winter the collector please see the entry for the following lot). John Smith saw it in her collection before 1834, remarking that the picture: ‘is impossible to commend too highly’, while Cornelis Hofstede de Groot described it in 1912 as: ‘an astonishingly fresh picture, obviously painted from nature’ (both op. cit.). The picture had achieved quite a reputation by the time it was sold in the Six sale in Amsterdam in 1928, fetching one of the highest prices in the sale (Dfl. 62,000); incidentally, almost double the price fetched for the Frans van Mieris Music Lesson in this sale (following lot). It was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy the following year, but was never seen again in public until now, its re-emergence unfortunately coming a few years too late for the 2016/17 monographic exhibition that brought Adriaen de Velde’s oeuvre sharply into focus.
Although the picture ostensibly disappeared from sight after 1929, Wolfgang Stechow addressed it in his seminal 1966 survey of Dutch landscape painting, providing an illuminating summary of it qualities: ‘The panel is quite without parallel in Adriaen’s work but its uniqueness can perhaps be explained by the assumption that it was painted directly from nature, as Hofstede de Groot suggested. Extraordinary in any case are the wonderful light effects with the long shadows; the breezy treatment of the water and sky; and the highly original composition, seen from above, with prominent figures walking down the hollow centre towards the sea, with dunes rising on both sides but remaining entirely below the horizon line, which is overlapped only slightly by the roof of a house on the left and the masts of some sailing boats otherwise completely hidden by the dunes’ (op. cit.).
Adriaen van de Velde was described by his biographer Arnold Houbraken as a child prodigy. The son of the marine painter Willem van de Velde the Elder and younger brother to Willem the Younger, Adriaen started painting as a child: ‘From an early age, through an inherited inclination, he was driven to the art of drawing and painting, and, still a schoolboy, sneakily managed to get hold of his brother Willem’s drawing pens, brushes and paints, drawing and painting on everything he could find’ (A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, Amsterdam, 1718-21, III, p. 90). Certainly by the time he painted the Beach at Scheveningen, the greatest of his beach scenes, in 1658, at the age of twenty two, he was fully evolved as a painter and operating at the height of his powers (Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister). View from the Dunes must have been painted several years earlier, when van de Velde was still in his teens and painting with a certain amount of experimentation. The view straight out to sea (rather than along the beach) and the vertical accents of the masts appearing over the dunes, both highly original ideas, speak of an artist responding spontaneously to nature with a precocious mastery. Coupled with the unhesitating way in which the paint seems to have been applied, it is easy to understand why both Hofstede de Groot and Stechow regarded View from the Dunes as a plein air painting.
The picture is the stand-out example from a group of four early beach scenes, each of which have in the past sometimes been considered as fraternal collaborations between Adriaen and Willem, painted for the van de Velde studio (fig. 1; Indianapolis, Museum of Art; and figs. 2 and 3; Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen; see Cornelis, op. cit.). Old photographs show that this panel once bore the initials ‘A.V.V.’ (which Adriaen never used for his paintings), before they were removed in cleaning at some stage after 1929. The singular, instinctive vision of View from the Dunes has ruled out the notion of collaboration and also prompted a re-appraisal of the other three pictures, each of which should now be seen as the independent product of the young Adriaen van de Velde painting in circa 1655.

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