Attributed to Gerard ter Borch (Zwolle 1617-1681 Deventer)
Attributed to Gerard ter Borch (Zwolle 1617-1681 Deventer)

The Glass of Lemonade

Attributed to Gerard ter Borch (Zwolle 1617-1681 Deventer)
The Glass of Lemonade
oil on canvas
26 7/8 x 22 1/8 in. (68.4 x 56.2 cm.)
In a Dutch, ebony frame with a flat frieze and an ogee section, between fine reeded mouldings on a half lapped pine back frame, circa 1620 (supplied by Wiggins, ref. 12597).
(Possibly) John Maitland (?1754-1831), M.P., Woodford Hall, Essex; his sale (+), Christie's, London, 30 July 1831, lot 99, as 'Terburg', 'an exquisite specimen' (100 gns. to Woodburn).
(Possibly) John Rogers; his sale (+), Christie's, London, 1 May 1847 [=2nd day], lot 182, as 'Terburg' (138 gns. to Smith).
(Possibly) with Samuel Woodburn (1786-1853), London; his sale (+), Christie's, London, 24 June 1853, lot 51, as 'G. Terburg' (93 gns. to Pearce).
Hugh A.J. Munro of Novar (1797-1864), Novar House, Ross-shire; his sale (+), Christie's, London, 1 June 1878, lot 114, as 'G. Terburg' (1,850 gns. to Goupil).
Antony Gibbs (1841-1907), Tyntesfield, near Bristol, by 1880 (according to an old label on the reverse).
Sir Joseph Robinson, 1st Bt. (1840-1929), South African mining magnate and 'Randlord'; his sale, Christie's, London, 6 July 1923, lot 94, as 'G. Terburg' (withdrawn from sale), and by descent to
Ida Louise Robinson, Princess Labia, Cape Town, by whom sold with a property title 'From the Collection of Sir Joseph Robinson Bt. 1840-1929'; Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1988, lot 100, as 'Attributed to Gerard ter Borch'.
with Thomas Agnew and Sons, London, as 'Ter Borch'.
with Noortman, Maastricht, as 'Ter Borch', from whom acquired, on 1 October 2004, by
Pieter and Olga Dreesmann (inventory no. B20).
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc., IV, London, 1833, p. 120, under no. 8, as 'Gerard Terburg'.
W. Roberts, Memorials of Christie's: A record of art sales from 1766 to 1896, I, London, 1897, p. 294, as 'G. Terburg, The Glass of Lemonade, two ladies and a gentleman in a handsome apartment'.
C. Hofstede de Groot, Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, nach dem Muster von John Smith's Catalogue Raisonné, V, Esslingen, 1912, p. 37, no. 37.2, as a treatment of the same subject as the picture in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné, etc., V, London, 1913, p. 36, no. 87.3, as a treatment of the same subject.
A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1913, London, III, 1914, p. 1302 (two entries), as 'Terborch, Gerard'; and V, 1915, p. 2501.
S.J. Gudlaugsson, Gerard Ter Borch, 1617-1681, II, The Hague, 1960, p. 189, no. 192b, as 'Kopie, nach dem ursprünglich Zustand'.
W.A. Liedtke, 'Dutch and Flemish Paintings from the Hermitage: Some notes to an exhibition catalogue with special attention to Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Jordaens', Oud Holland, CIII, 1989, p. 155, no. 4, as possibly by Eglon van der Neer.
M. Stevenson, Art & Aspirations. The Randlords of South Africa and their collections, Vlaeberg, 2002, p. 52, fig. 16, as 'Attributed to Gerard Ter Borch'.
A. Wallert and G. Tauber, 'Over herhalingen in de schilderkunst: het probleem van reproductie', Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, LII, 2004, pp. 316-7 and 319-20, fig. 1, as 'een eigenhandige repliek' by Ter Borch.
A. Wallert, 'Ter Borch's Materials and Methods of Painting: The Glass of Lemonade', Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung, 2004, pp. 379-90, figs. 1 and 3-6, as a 'beautiful work' by Ter Borch.
B. Cornelis, 'Gerard ter Borch', The Burlington Magazine, CXLVII, 2005, p. 357, fig. 70, illustrated, as 'attributed to Gerard ter Borch, a very good, exact replica', 'too good to be...a replica [by van der Neer or Musscher]' but bearing 'all the hallmarkes of Ter Borch himself'.
E. Schavemaker, One Hundred Master Paintings, Zwolle, 2005, pp. 42-7, no. 10, as 'Ter Borch'.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Winter Exhibition, 5 January-13 March 1880, no. 77, as 'Gerard Terburg' (lent by Antony Gibbs).
London, Corporation of London Art Gallery, Loan Collection of Pictures, 1894, no. 56, as 'Gerard Terburg' (lent by Antony Gibbs).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, The Robinson Collection, 2 July-14 September 1958, no. 2, as 'Gerard ter Borch', 'its quality suggests an original' (catalogue by E.K. Waterhouse).
Cape Town, National Gallery of South Africa, The Joseph Robinson Collection, Lent by the Princess Labia, 1959, no. 61, as 'Gerard ter Borch', 'its quality suggests an original' (catalogue by E.K. Waterhouse).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Sammlung Sir Joseph Robinson, 1840-1929, 17 August-16 September 1962, no. 41, as 'Gerard ter Borch'.
Washington, National Gallery of Art; and Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Gerard ter Borch, 7 November 2004-22 May 2005, no. 40, as 'attributed to Gerard ter Borch', when noted by A.K. Wheelock, Jr. as a version of 'extremely high quality' (in the catalogue).

Brought to you by

Georgina Wilsenach
Georgina Wilsenach

Lot Essay

The Glass of Lemonade seamlessly joins a domestic subject, a finely appointed interior and restrained erotic tension, the very qualities that made Ter Borch's paintings strikingly modern--and appealing--to his contemporaries. Known for his portraits and scenes of military life, Ter Borch was at his most innovative in depictions of the daily life of women in spare yet elegant surroundings. In such pictures, Ter Borch cultivated moments of emotional and psychological disquiet whose narrative subtlety invites countless interpretations.

The present work embodies exactly this complexity. In the scene, a couple sits together, a man stirring a cut and partly peeled lemon into a glass of water held by a young woman. Between them stands an older woman, her hand placed on the young woman's shoulder in a gesture of apparent reassurance. This cast of characters immediately recalls procuress scenes of the first half of the seventeenth century, such as that of 1622 by Ter Borch's compatriot Dirck van Baburen, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (inv. no. 50.2721). While alluding to this tradition, Ter Borch nevertheless suppresses the overt brothel transaction seen in Van Baburen's painting. Rather, the fine yet decorous clothing of Ter Borch's young woman and her gentle, open-eyed gaze suggests a more virtuous romance. This interpretation is supported by surviving textual and visual material belonging to the prodigiously literary and artistic Ter Borch family. Ter Borch's step-sister Gesina, the model for the present work, compiled albums of poetry that explore her fascination with ideal Petrarchan love, a notion popular in Dutch writing, emblems and songs of this period (see A. Kettering, Drawings from the Ter Borch Studio Estate in the Rijksmuseum, The Hague, 1988, II, pp. 416-19); a drawing now in the Rijksprentenkabinet (inv. no. RP-T-1887-A-812) demonstrates that Ter Borch was well aware of these concepts. In 1659, Gesina also recorded her interest in colour symbolism, which Ter Borch occasionally adopted in his paintings. In this rubric, the colour yellow is associated with gladness and joy, thus further supporting a romantic interpretation of the present work. Moreover, in Ter Borch's time lemons were recommended as a cure for lovesickness, and were often included in contemporary scenes of distraught maidens by artists such as Jan Steen (Gerard ter Borch, exhibition catalogue, Washington and Detroit, 2005, pp. 11-12 and 149-53). The theme of lovesickness and youthful courtship is explored with great sensitivity by Ter Borch. In his note for the Washington and Detroit exhibition, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. notes the tender way in which the young man (modelled on Gesina's brother, Ter Borch's half-brother Moses) cups the stand of the glass in such a way that he can touch the young woman's little finger, pressing his skin to hers in a tentative, secret signal; while she, pale but lightly flushed with emotion, steadies her right arm almost unnoticeably with her left hand. Such subtle details combine to endow the picture with its full emotional and intellectual complexity, which impresses itself upon the viewer even before he has had the time to register them consciously.

Datable on the basis of the costumes to early-to-mid 1660s, The Glass of Lemonade provides invaluable insight into Ter Borch's working process. It closely relates to the almost identical work by the artist in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg (67 x 54 cm.; fig. 1), acquired from the collection of the Empress Josephine at Malmaison and once in the celebrated cabinet of the duc de Choiseul. The history of the Hermitage picture is complex. At some stage early in its existence it was expanded by the addition of strips of canvas to all four edges; in its enlarged state it measured 81.7 x 72 cm., as recorded in a 1742 sale catalogue and a 1771 engraving (fig. 2). The larger margins around Ter Borch's composition created by the additions were painted to include a chandelier, a window with a view to a landscape, a lap-dog on a footstool and a pet monkey on a ball-and-chain. Although the additions have since been removed from the Hermitage version, traces of the elements painted in remain on the original support. The Hermitage canvas appears to have been subsequently trimmed at the left edge, with a thin but significant strip of the background removed, cropping the picture plane to the extreme tip of the woman's fur-lined jacket, narrowing the width of the painting and shifting the balance of the composition slightly off-centre.

By contrast, the Dreesmann picture preserves the original format and dimensions of Ter Borch's composition. The cusping along all four edges indicates that it has never been cut down, and the excellent state of the paint layer enables the viewer to fully appreciate the virtuosity of Ter Borch's technique. While S.J. Gudlaugsson, author of the catalogue raisonné on the artist, believed that Ter Borch only rarely repeated his compositions and considered this painting a copy after the Hermitage picture (op. cit., p. 189, under no. 192), more recent authors have suggested otherwise (Washington and Detroit, exhibition catalogue, op. cit., p. 153). It is moreover accepted that Ter Borch did repeat compositions, presumably when they proved to be a commercial success, as this winning subject must have been. Two famous examples of such repetitions are the Gallant Conversation of circa 1654 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum; fig. 3) and the Paternal Admonition (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie; fig. 4) probably painted 'one right after the other in 1654' (A. McNeil Kettering, in Washington and Detroit, exhibition catalogue, op. cit., p. 114). Another example is the Music Lesson of circa 1668 (Ohio, Toledo Museum of Art), which repeats the Duet at Waddesdon (The Rothschild Collection, The National Trust). The latter pairing is of particular relevance since the correspondence between the two is extremely close, as with the Hermitage and Dreesmann pictures. Gudlaugsson published the Waddesdon picture as the original, and the Toledo version as a replica, a view which was subsequently reversed in 1975, when a signature and date were discovered on the Toledo picture.

The Dreesmann painting is the subject of the most thorough technical and scientific study published on the artist, by Arie Wallert in 2004 (in Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung, op. cit.), with extensive pigment analysis and interpretation of Ter Borch's working method. It is well known that he adopted his father's technique of reusing specific motifs, such as particular arrangements of drapery in the satin dresses for which Ter Borch is justly famous, from one composition to another. Wallert and Tauber (Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, op. cit.) have explored the way in which such prized elements were transferred from drawings onto Ter Borch's painted supports, following a method described in detail by Vasari in the sixteenth-century Volpato manuscript, and echoed in a northern context by Karel van Mander in 1604: the drawing would be 'covered on the back with some fine white pigment powder and then laid on the canvas. With a pointed tool, the contours of the design were traced, thereby pressing the pigment powder from the cartoon onto the canvas', leaving an impression of the design (Wallert, Zeitschrift, p. 382). The cartoon used for the transfer might shift during the process, leading to minor variations, or be shifted intentionally to modify the compositon -- thus, in the Berlin Paternal Admonition the figures are half a head closer together than in the Amsterdam Gallant Conversation. The figures in the Dreesmann and Hermitage pictures are full of minute variations in contour, the only significant one being in the position of the young man's head, which leans even closer to the lady in the Dreesmann picture (Wallert, op. cit., fig. 3, or Wallert and Tauber, op. cit.; see fig. 5). While the Dreesmann and Hermitage versions are assumed to be close in date, circa 1663, the design for the young woman's satin gown appears to have remained in Ter Borch's cache of drawings, and reappears in a much later work, a Portrait of a lady dated to circa 1671 (France, private collection). Further evidence of Ter Borch's creative process can be found in the infrared reflectography of the Dreesmann painting. This shows 'a number of pentimenti', including changes to the line of the young woman's dress relative to the man's leg, the front leg of the chair, the position of the hand holding the knife and the vertical line of the bed as well as the band around its top. (Wallert, Zeitschrift, p. 383). An X-ray recently produced by Art Access Research, London (fig. 6) also indicates potential changes in the area above and behind the seated young man, with a distinct highlight immediately behind his chair, in what are now the darkest parts of the picture, the curtain around the bed. One of the most interesting observations made by Wallert in his analysis of the Dreesmann work relates to an unpublished manuscript in the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (MS 93-94), Recepten-bock van allerlei kleuren te verwen, a recipe book for pigments used in dying cloth, probably written by a contemporary of Ter Borch's in 1650-80. While most of the recipes apply strictly to the tinting of cloth, a few are drawn from the painter's practice, and, intriguingly, one provides instructions for the manufacture of a red lake from cochineal according to Gerard ter Borch ('Root Lac van Cochenielje van Geerart ter Burg van Swol'). As a painter working in the provincial towns of Zwolle and Deventer, far from Amsterdam and the other civic centres of the western United Provinces, Ter Borch seems to have had a much greater involvement in the preparation of his studio materials and it is logical that he would have had his own tried and tested recipes for paints, one of which could have been recorded by the anonymous author of the Haarlem manuscript. Wallert points out that such a red lake is indeed present in many of Ter Borch's pictures, such as the red dress of the lady in Curiosity (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), the upholstery and tablecloths of many of Ter Borch's portraits, and indeed in the present picture, where it is mixed with ultramarine to achieve the deep, clear purple of the older woman's coat.

This figure, whose physiognomy is recognisable from drawings by Moses ter Borch, may well be his mother and Gesina's, and Gerard's stepmother -- a casting which makes the present work something akin to a family portrait. A remarkable testimony to the atmosphere of intense creativity and intellectual community which reigned in the Ter Borch studio household, the environment in which the great artist was raised and worked.

More from Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale

View All
View All