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A view of Beverwijk

A view of Beverwijk
signed and dated ‘S. VRuysdael / 1646’ (‘VR’ linked, lower right)
oil on panel
29 5⁄8 x 25 7⁄8 in. (75.2 x 65.7 cm.)
Frigyes Glück (1858-1931), Budapest, by 1918.
Ferenc Chorin (1879-1964), Budapest, circa 1931, and by whom deposited in 1943 at the following,
Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest, Co., Budapest, and from which taken in January 1945 (probably) by Soviet troops.
Private collection, Switzerland.
with Edward Speelman, Ltd., London, and by whom sold on 15 September 1982 to the following,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Restituted to the heirs of Ferenc Chorin in 2021.
L. Baldass, ‘Glück Frigyes képgyüjteménye,’ Müvészeti Szemle, I, May-June 1924, pp. 302, 305, illustrated.
‘Principales Acquisitions des Musées en 1982,’ La Chronique des Arts [Supplement to the Gazette des Beaux-Arts], no. 1370, March 1983, p. 34, no. 184, fig. 184.
The One Hundred Seventh Annual Report of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 1982-3, p. 33, illustrated.
A.R. Murphy, European Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue, Boston, 1985, p. 257, illustrated.
P.C. Sutton, Masters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting, exhibition catalogue, Amsterdam, Boston and Philadelphia, 1987, pp. 470-471, under no. 92, fig. 4.
P.C. Sutton, in Art for Boston: A Decade of Acquisitions under the Directorship of Jan Fontein, Boston, 1987, pp. 140-141, illustrated.
C. White, Ashmolean Museum Oxford: Catalogue of the Collection of Paintings: Dutch, Flemish, and German Paintings before 1900, Oxford, 1999, pp. 138, 207, under no. A 1065, fig. 20.
R. Baer, The Poetry of Everyday Life: Dutch Painting in Boston, exhibition catalogue, Boston, 2002, p. 57.
S. Juhász, ‘Egy Pesti Inyenc Képei,’ Múzeumcafé, LXXI, 2019, p. 232, no. 15.
Budapest, Hall of Exhibitions (Mücsarnok), First Exhibition of Art Works Taken into Public Ownership, 1919.

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John Hawley
John Hawley Specialist

Lot Essay

Though unknown to Wolfgang Stechow at the time of his catalogue raisonné, this particularly well-preserved work is a prime example of Salomon van Ruysdael’s approach to landscape painting after 1640. It was around this time that he moved away from the humble earthy tones of his earlier landscapes in favor a more stately classicizing idiom with a heightened sense of grandeur and refinement. Ruysdael was among the first artists to treat such ordinary scenes of the Dutch countryside and, as evidenced here, concentrate on the fleeting effects of weather, light and atmosphere in a manner that would not be rivaled until the advent of painting en plein air nearly a century-and-a-half later.

Below a luminous, cloud-filled sky two men drive cattle along a diagonally receding village road. A row of humble structures, divided by a pair of majestic trees, line the well-trod path. Additional figures, including a man on horseback, a man with a long pole at a well and travelers disembarking from a covered wagon are evident in the middle ground. Further still, a church tower with steeply angled roofline punctuates the painting’s background.

On account of the included details, there can be little doubt as to the time of year depicted in Ruysdael’s painting. The muddy road suggests a recently passed rain shower on a warm spring day, while the carefully observed foliage of the central trees has only recently leafed out. Moreover, cattle drives like that in the lower left foreground traditionally took place in the spring, as attested by prints like Gillis van Scheyndel’s etching of Spring after a design by Willem Buytewech (fig. 1).

While described simply as a ‘village street’ by Ludwig Baldass in 1924 (loc. cit.), by the time the painting entered the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1982 it was recognized as a view of Beverwijk, a town in North Holland some 20 kilometers northwest of Amsterdam. The steeple is that of the town’s late-gothic Grote Kerk, erected in 1475. Seventeenth-century depictions of Beverwijk are rare, with a number of artists – Jacob van Ruisdael and Cornelis Beelt among them – preferring to turn their attention instead to the nearby picturesque village of Wijk aan Zee on the North Sea. Ruysdael, however, appears to have had a particular fascination with Beverwijk, which features in the background of a number of his paintings from the 1640s on, including works in Budapest, Berlin and one which formerly bore a date of 1661 in the Mauritshuis, The Hague.

The present painting, dated 1646, is among the earliest of Ruysdael’s depictions of Beverwijk. In composition and approach it is especially close to a large-scale painting conceived in a more conventional horizontal format and dated 1657 in Oxford (fig. 2). Both paintings depict the village from the same angle with only slight changes to details, including the removal of the well and the addition of trees in the painting in Oxford. On account of their marked similarities, Christopher White rightly described the latter painting as ‘a reworking of the composition of the Boston painting in a horizontal format’ (loc cit.).


When this painting was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1982, little was known about its earlier provenance other than that it had come from a Swiss private collection. A fragmentary label on the reverse indicated it had previously been in a Hungarian collection. In 2019, the researcher Sándor Juhász contacted the museum, notifying them that the painting once belonged to the Budapest collector Frigyes Glück in the early twentieth century. The painting was later acquired around 1931 by Ferenc Chorin (fig. 3), probably from Glück’s estate.

Chorin was an enormously influential figure in Hungary during the interwar years. A lawyer by training, he was a banker and member of Hungary’s National Association of Industrialists with cultivated artistic interests. In addition to the present painting, Chorin collected works by Alfred Sisley, Jean-François Millet and the Hungarian master Mihály Munkácsy as well as Ushak carpets, Italian Renaissance furniture and early Central European silver.

Avowedly against the rise of Nazism in Europe, Chorin generously funded opposition movements and papers and supported Jews who fled to Hungary from Nazi-occupied territories. After Allied forces bombed Budapest in September 1942, Chorin sought safe storage for his works of art. On 22 March 1943, he deposited his four crates of paintings in a vault at the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest. When German troops invaded Hungary the following March, Chorin and his family went into hiding to escape persecution. However, he was soon located and deported, having survived the War because the Nazis needed his business acumen and because he traded access to the Weiss Csepel Factory for the lives of his extended family. Having escaped to Portugal, they eventually settled in New York in 1947.

On 26 December 1944, Soviet and Romanian forces succeeded in encircling Budapest and began a weekslong siege of the city. In the aftermath of the battle, the contents of Chorin’s bank vault were reported missing. The painting was listed in the Sacco di Budapest and depredation of Hungary 1938-1949 (Budapest, 1998), but it was included there with an incorrect image and description, thus preventing a connection with the true painting. Only in 2019 with the identification of the Frigyes Glück provenance did the research come full circle and ultimately enable restitution of the painting to Chorin’s heirs.

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