2 More

A scholar sharpening his quill

A scholar sharpening his quill
signed and dated 'SKoninck 1639' ('SK' in ligature, center right, on the ledge)
oil on panel
26 3⁄8 x 20 1⁄8 in. (66.8 x 51.1 cm.)
John Pemberton Heywood, Norris Green, Lancashire and Cloverly Hall, Shropshire; (†) his sale, Christie's, London, 10 June 1893, lot 53 (378 gns.).
Hon. Mrs. Denham collection.
with Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris, by 1900.
Adolphe Schloss (1842-1910), Paris, and by inheritance to his wife,
Mathilde Haas (1858-1938), by whom bequeathed to her children,
Maguerite, Lucien, Henry and Juliette Schloss, by whom stored for safekeeping at Château de Chambon, Laguenne, 20 August 1939; transferred to the Banque de France, Limoges, 16 April 1943.
Seized by Vichy officials and German security agents at the Banque Jordaan, Château de Chambon, Laguenne, 16 April 1943 (Schloss 138); transferred to the Banque de France, Limoges, 24 April 1943; transferred to CCQJ headquarters, Paris, 11 August 1943, where it was earmarked for Hitler's planned museum in Linz (ERR no. Schloss 113).
Transported for storage to the Führerbau, Munich, from where stolen, April 1945.
with Walter Andreas Hofer (1893-c. 1971), Munich, from whom acquired in 1952 by a private collector, and by descent in the family.
Restituted to the heirs of Adolphe Schloss in 2019.
Illustrated Catalogue of the Sixth Series of 100 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English Schools, being a portion of the Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris, 1900, pp. 26-27, no. 20, illustrated.
U. Thieme and F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, XXI, Leipzig, 1937, p. 275.
Répertoire des biens spoliés en France durant la guerre 1939-1945, II, Berlin, 1947, p. 183, no. 4085, illustrated.
H. van de Waal, 'Rembrandt's Faust etching, a Socinian document and the iconography of the inspired scholar', Oud Holland, LXXIX, 1964, p. 47.
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, III, Landau, 1983, pp. 1645, 1679, no. 1105, illustrated, with incorrect provenance.
M. Hamon-Jugnet, Collection Schloss: Œuvres spoliées pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale non restituées (1943-1998), Paris, 1998, p. 99, with incorrect provenance.

Brought to you by

John Hawley
John Hawley Specialist

Lot Essay

Following his training with the Amsterdam artists David Colijns and Claes Cornelisz. Moeyaert, Salomon Koninck became a master in the Amsterdam Guild of Saint Luke in 1632. Though Koninck does not appear to have ever personally studied with Rembrandt, his works nevertheless confirm his familiarity with the greatest of all Dutch masters' works. Like Rembrandt, Koninck’s paintings are characterized by an interest in a relatively restricted palette and strong light effects. Moreover, the lion’s share of Koninck’s works, including the present painting, can be described as tronies, a genre that likewise resonated with Rembrandt in the period. Unlike formal portraits, which were produced on commission and with the intention that the sitter be identifiable to the viewer, tronies were painted for the open market as studies of expression or facial types.

The elderly bearded man in this painting is probably based on a live model. His wizened face can likewise be identified in several other paintings, including Koninck’s An old man cutting his nails, dating to circa 1640 and today in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes (see W. Sumowski, op. cit., no. 1107). The man’s long beard and velvet cap suggest that he is a scholar studiously at work in his kantoor, or office. The intensity with which he sharpens his quill is conveyed not only through his fixated gaze but, rather charmingly, the modest bowl of porridge that he allows to cool along the table’s edge. Koninck similarly employed the motif of a scholar evidently too absorbed in his studies to eat in a painting dated 1641 in the collection of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat (ibid., no. 1132).

When Werner Sumowski first published this painting, he erroneously associated it with a painting that featured at the second sale of works recently restituted to the heirs of Adolphe Schloss, held at Galerie Charpentier on 5 December 1951 (loc. cit.). In fact, the painting in the 1951 sale was another thematically similar work by Koninck, also looted from the Schloss collection and today in the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Upon the seizure of the present painting in 1943, it was earmarked for the planned Führermuseum in Linz. Having been out of public view and in the same private collection for nearly seventy years, in 2019 it was restituted to the heirs of Adolphe Schloss.

More from Old Masters

View All
View All