Dirck Hals (Haarlem 1591–1656) and Dirck van Delen (Heusden 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)
Dirck Hals (Haarlem 1591–1656) and Dirck van Delen (Heusden 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)
Dirck Hals (Haarlem 1591–1656) and Dirck van Delen (Heusden 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)
2 More
Dirck Hals (Haarlem 1591–1656) and Dirck van Delen (Heusden 1604/5-1671 Arnemuiden)
5 More
From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot whic… Read more PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF JACOB LIERENS (LOTS 21 AND 22)

A merry company in a palatial interior, with musicians and tric-trac players

A merry company in a palatial interior, with musicians and tric-trac players
signed and dated ‘D. van Delen / fecit / 1628‘ (centre, cartouche above the doorway)
oil on panel
36 ½ x 61 ¾ in. (92.5 x 157 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Frederik Muller & Cie, Amsterdam, 24 May 1921, lot 10, as ‘Attributed to van Delen’ (NLG 3,800), illustrated.
Jacob Lierens (1877-1949), possibly acquired at the above; his sale, Frederik Muller & Cie, Amsterdam, 14 October 1941, lot 301, as 'Attributed to van Delen’, (NLG 9,020), illustrated, where acquired by the following,
with D. A. Hoogendijk, Amsterdam, from whom acquired on 20 October 1941 for NLG 13,020 by the following,
with Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam.
Acquired for the “Sonderauftrag Linz” via Hans Posse from the above, November 1941, as ‘Attributed to D. Hals & D. v. Deelen’ (for Fl. 33, 000 or RM 25,000) (Linz No. 2052).
Recovered by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP No. 8761), 11 October 1945.
Transferred to Amsterdam from the above, 8 July 1946.
Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, The Netherlands, 1946, inv. no. 1023, and placed under the custody of the following,
Dienst voor’s Rijks Verspreide Kunstvoorwerpen, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, inv. no. NK 2584.
On long-term loan from the above to the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, 1948-2019, inv. no. 674.
Restituted to the heirs of Jacob Lierens, 2019.
E. Plietzsch, ‘Randbemerkungen zur Holländischen Interieurmalerei am Beginn des 17. Jahrhunderts‘, Wallraff-Richartz-Jahrbuch, XVIII, 1956, pp. 191-3, fig. 145.
E. Plietzsch, Holländische und Fmische Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1960, p. 27, note 1.
H.P. Baard, Frans Halsmuseum Haarlem: Nederlandse Schilderkunst, Munich and Ahrbeck-Hannover, 1967, pp. 68-9, illustrated.
H.P. Baard, Frans Halsmuseum Haarlem, Munich and Ahrbeck-Hannover, 1969, p. 24, no. 674.
P. Schatborn, ‘Olieverfschetsen van Dirck Hals’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1973, no. 3, pp. 109-10 and 115, fig. 5.
T.T. Blade, The Paintings of Dirck van Delen, PhD. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1976, pp. 129-134 and 214, no. 15, fig. 8.
P. Sutton, Masters of Seventeenth Century Dutch Genre Painting, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1984, pp. 205-6, fig. 2.
R. Trnek, Die holländischen Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts: in der Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien, Vienna, 1992, pp. 168ff.
B. Nehlsen-Marten, Dirck Hals 1591-1656: Oeuvre und Entwicklung eines Haarlemer Genremalers, Weimar, 2003, pp. 311-2 and 398, no. 354, fig. 195.
E. Kolfin, The Young Gentry at Play: Northern Netherlandish Scenes of Merry Companies, 1610-1645, Leiden, 2005, pp. 108, 128-9, fig. 92.
P. Biesboer, Painting in Haarlem 1500-1850 : The Collection of the Frans Hals Museum, Ghent, 2006, pp. 471-2, no. 174.
W.A. Liedtke, Dutch paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007, I, pp. 246-7, note 5.
C. Tainturier et al., Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt, exhibition catalogue, Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris and National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2016, pp. 110 and 113, fig. 3.
Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, Satire and Jest: Dutch genre painting in Haarlem in the age of Frans Hals, 31 January-16 May 2004, no. 13.
Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem: The Cradle of the Golden Age, 11 October 2008-1 February 2009, no. 91.
Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, Celebrating in the Golden Age, 11 November 2011-6 May 2012, no. 17.
Special notice
From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot which it owns in whole or in part. This is such a lot. Specifed lots (sold and unsold) marked with a filled square ( ¦ ) not collected from Christie’s, 8 King Street, London SW1Y 6QT by 5.00 pm on the day of the sale will, at our option, be removed to Crown Fine Art (details below). Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent ofsite. If the lot is transferred to Crown Fine Art, it will be available for collection from 12.00 pm on the second business day following the sale. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Crown Fine Art. All collections from Crown Fine Art will be by prebooked appointment only. These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
Jacob Lierens (5 February 1877-30 May 1949) was a Jewish businessman and art collector in pre-war Amsterdam. A partner in the company L. Lierens & Co at Prinsengracht 353-355, a concern specialised in the trade of waste paper. Jacob married Henriëtte Johanna Benavente (20 July 1877-10 June 1956) in 1895. The couple had four daughters: Elisabeth (16 February 1900-30 May 1930), Rebecca Bosboom (15 January 1902-21 March 1996), Branca Roselaar (8 October 1905-30 September 1942) and Esther Jessurun Cardozo (3 July 1907-28 November 1971).
Jacob Lierens made his fortune during the 1910s and 1920s, making his mark as an art collector as early as 1919, when a news article noted his “very exquisite collection”. The Lierens collection included Old Master and Dutch Nineteenth Century genre paintings, as well as Chinese and Dutch porcelain. While no inventory remains, publications such as the catalogue of his estate sale at Frederick Muller & Cie in Amsterdam on 18 and 24 October 1949, illustrate the quality and diversity of the collection.
Lierens was a frequent buyer at the auction house Frederik Muller auction house and this is indeed where he acquired the two paintings offered by Christie’s today in 1921 - the de Heem in April and the Hals and van Delen in May. Correspondence and annotated sale catalogues from the 1920s indicate that he was sometimes advised by Jonas Alexander van Bever, notably on the de Heem acquisition. In September 1921, the Lierens family moved to the Villa Johanna at 196 Amsteldijk, Amsterdam.
Following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in May 1940, Lierens sought to keep his art collection safe but L. Lierens & Co was ‘Aryanised’ in March 1941 and the family’s home and belongings were confiscated in March 1942. The family moved to a modest residence still in Amsterdam.
In 1943, Lierens and his wife were imprisoned for a time in the Westerbork transit camp, from where many were deported to concentration and extermination camps in Eastern Europe. The Lierens couple were able to secure their release against a payment in jewellery in August of that year. The family went into hiding, surviving thanks to the sale of some of their possessions.
Lierens and his wife survived the war, as did their daughter Esther and her family, who also were in hiding, and their daughter Rebecca and her family, who had fled to New York in 1939. Johanna joined them there following Jacob’s death in 1949. Their daughter Branca Roselaar-Lierens and her husband Emanuel Roselaar (29 March 1895-30 September 1942) perished in Auschwitz.
The two paintings – A merry company in a palatial interior, with musicians and tric-trac players by Dirk Francoisz Hals (the younger brother of Frans Hals) and Dirck van Delen and A banquet still life by Jan Davidsz de Heem – were included in the forced sale of the Lierens’ collection at Frederick Muller & Cie. in Amsterdam on 14 October 1941.
The buyer at the sale was Hans Posse, head of the Linz Special Commission which acquired art on behalf of Adolf Hitler for the “Führermuseum” he planned to build in Linz. Recovered at the end of the war by the Allies’ Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section or “Monuments Men”, both paintings were returned to the Netherlands. The paintings were subsequently placed by the Dutch government on long-term loans to the Hals Museum in Haarlem and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.
In 2019, the present-day Restitution Committee in the Netherlands, set up with the re-emergence of interest in Holocaust-era assets following the Washington Conference of 1998, recommended the restitution of these two paintings to Jacob and Johanna’s heirs.
In loving memory of her grandfather Jacob Lierens, his granddaughter Elisabeth (born 1934) explains: “Staying in his home was like being in a palace. Thanks to my grandfather we could go into hiding during the war. We hid in a small apartment belonging to Mrs. Rika Verweij who had been the nanny of my mother Esther. We remained in the hiding place from mid-1942 until the end of the war. My grandfather succeeded in hiding some of his valuable possessions. To cover the expenses of the hiding place and provide food for himself and the family, he had to sell many of his valuables. After the war, my parents were penniless. They wanted to leave The Netherlands and to immigrate to Curaçao (Dutch Caribbean). Thanks to my grandfather, we could start a new life over there as he paid for the expenses”.
Christie’s is privileged to offer these paintings for sale on behalf of the heirs.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

This large and ambitiously conceived merry company is one of the greatest successes of the artistic partnership between Dirck Hals and Dirck van Delen. Combining the innovative wit of Hals’ crowded figure groups and van Delen’s splendid imaginary interiors, it embodies the most highly regarded traits of the genre that emerged in the Dutch Republic in the second decade of the seventeenth century.
On long-term loan at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem since 1948, it is here offered for sale for the first time in eighty years, further to its restitution in 2019 to the heirs of its last rightful owner - Jacob Lierens. A Jewish businessman and art collector in Amsterdam, Lierens sold the picture at auction in 1941 before his company was ‘Aryanised’ by the Nazis and he and his wife were interned at Westerbork. The picture was acquired at the sale by Hans Posse for the projected ‘Führermuseum’ at Linz before being returned to the Netherlands after the war.
In a palatial Renaissance-style interior, young gentry are at play. Across Hals’ entanglement of figures, elegant society feast, converse, play tric-trac and court to the accompaniment of music, while children and dogs play nearby. Although only here signed by Dirck van Delen, who painted the setting, this picture is the largest of three similar large-scale panel paintings on which Hals and van Delen collaborated in 1628. The second, sold at Christie’s, New York, 29 January 1998, lot 17 ($1,047,500) (fig. 1) includes different architecture by van Delen and is of slightly smaller dimensions (77 x 135.5 cm.), yet repeats virtually to a man the present figure group by Hals, who alone signed and dated the work ‘DHALS / AN / 1628’. The serving boy departing through the doorway in the present work is also replaced with a seated couple, seen through a vaulted colonnade on an open portico added on the right (see P.C. Sutton, op. cit., p. 205). A third collaboration from this year, of the same dimensions as the painting sold at Christie’s New York in 1998, is in the Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna (inv. no. 684), also signed and dated ‘DHals AN 1628’. Further examples of their collaborations exist, such as two paintings dated 1629, one in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin – which includes variations of the figure of the woman standing in the doorway and the seated violin player in this picture – and a work formerly in the collection of Sir Cecil Newman, Burloes Hall, Royston. None, however, are painted on as grand a scale as the present painting.
The working methods of Hals and van Delen’s collaborations was explored by Renate Trnek (op. cit., pp. 169-70) through a close examination of infrared reflectograms of the present picture and that in Vienna. Starting with the architecture, van Delen first drew out the perspective on the panel’s ground, leaving a reserve for Hals’ figures in white underpaint, which is visible in their contours. Yet while the relationship between the figures and the architecture in the Christie’s New York picture was fully resolved before execution, in the present work, Hals was evidently still experimenting with the balance of the composition as he worked. Most notably, the seated dog in the middle foreground was seemingly added only after the tablecloth and tiles had been blocked in, painted thinly on top with the trenchant freedom of his sketches, as if it had been sketched from life. A pentiment in the dog’s muzzle, which was originally painted lower, also attests to this fluency, suggesting that of the two versions of this figure group from 1628, the present painting may have been conceived first.
Hals is known to have worked from a repertoire of preparatory figure drawings and oil sketches on paper, the latter a rare practice for a Dutch painter. The violinist on the right, for example, was originally conceived in a sketch of a seated pipe smoker (fig. 2; Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. no. 1965:180), who can also be found in his Merry Companies in the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (inv. no. 1957.160) and the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (inv. no. 816A). In the present picture and the Christie’s New York painting, Hals substituted the pipe for a violin and omitted the man’s beard, replacing the boots with ones already devised in individual leg studies on the same sheet. The woman standing in the doorway with her arm akimbo, who also featured in the Dublin picture, originated in a sketch in which her head was turned to look out at the viewer (fig. 3; see Schatborn, op. cit.). The seated tric-trac player at the far left and a variant of his standing companion equally reappeared in several of Hals’ other works, including a guardroom scene dated 1628, formerly with P. de Boer (see Sutton, op. cit., p. 149, fig. 3). Hals also evidently made studies on which he based his still life details, with the chair with a silver ewer, basin and flask at the right of this composition recurring in the left of the San Francisco painting. Van Delen's architectural paintings were meanwhile inspired in part by the pattern books of Hans and Paul Vredeman de Vries (see, for example, Scenographiae sive Perspectivae, 1560), as well as Sebastiano Serlio's D'Architettura et Prospetiva (1619), although direct quotations from these sources are exceptional (for a discussion of the above, see T.T. Blade, The Paintings of Dirck van Delen, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, Ann Arbor, 1976, pp. 21-70).
While such repetitions of figures were used to satisfy the high demand for Hals’ Merry Company scenes, they also carried mildly moralising messages and were paradigmatic of the Dutch mentality of the seventeenth century, which revelled in prosperity yet was anxious about the moral consequences of wealth. Rather than communicating an obvious narrative, these fancily attired youths pose in attitudes of merriment, swagger and romance with humorous and clever efficacy, pressing on us their enjoyment of wine, music and those notorious aphrodisiacs, oysters. In the figure of the stout, goateed tavern master holding a large pie at the very centre of the company, one can see the influence of Willem Buytewech and Dirck’s elder brother, Frans Hals, whose merry and intoxicated figure of Hans Worst from his Merrymakers at Shrovetide (dated to circa 1616-17; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. no. 14.40.605) was seemingly an inspiration. Merry Companies such as this allowed artists to represent the latest fashions and modes of courtship and conversation, while forcing the viewer to assess the propriety of each scene for themselves.

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