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Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (Amsterdam 1621-1674)
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (Amsterdam 1621-1674)

A seated African holding a parasol

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (Amsterdam 1621-1674)
A seated African holding a parasol
with inscription 'Jacob Adriaensz Backer del' (verso)
black and white chalk, on blue paper, black ink framing lines
12 7/8 x 9 ¾ in. (32.8 x 24.8 cm.)
William Pitcairn Knowles (1820-1894) (L. 2643); Muller, Amsterdam, 25 June 1895, lot 22 ('Jacob Az. Backer. 22. Etude d'un nègre assis sur un tonneau. Aux deux crayons sur papier bleu. H. 33, l. 24.5 cent.'; 8 ½ guilders to Langerhuizen).
Pieter Langerhuizen Lzn (1839-1918) (L. 2095); Muller, Amsterdam, 29 April 1919, lot 19 (described as above).
Geheimrat A. Köster; C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, 13 November 1924, lot 59 ('Jacob Adriaensz. Backer. 59. Studie zu einem reitenden Orientalen von vorn, den rechten Arm ausgestreckt').
Curt Otto (circa 1880-1929) (L. 611c); C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, 7 November 1929, lot 7, as Backer; where purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena for 31.05 guilders (Inventory book: '790. t. J. d. Backer Neger').
K. Bauch, Jakob Adriaensz Backer: ein Rembrandtschüler aus Friesland, Berlin, 1926, p. 105, under nos. 28-29 (as Backer).
W. Sumowski, 'Zeichnungen Rembrandts und seines Kreises im Kupferstichkabinett der Veste Coburg', Jahrbuch der Coburger Landesstiftung, 1963, p. 101, note 50 (as Backer).
W. Sumowski, Drawings of the Rembrandt School, New York, 1980, III, no. 639.
W. Sumowski, Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, Pfalz, 1983, II, p. 742, under no. 477.
Leiden, Stedelijk Museum 'De Lakenhal', Rembrandt als leermeester, 1956, no. 87 (as Backer).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paris, Fondation Custodia, and Brussels, Bibliothèque Albert 1er, Le Cabinet d’un Amateur: Dessins flamands et hollandais des XVIe et XVIIe siècles d’une collection privée d’Amsterdam, 1976-77, no. 50, pl. 79 (catalogue by J. Giltaij).

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Lot Essay

This powerful and confident figure study is a very unusual instance of van den Eeckhout using black and white chalk on blue paper, a technique which is found much more in the work of his contemporaries such as Cornelis Bega (circa 1631-1664), Govert Flinck (1615-1660) and Jacob Backer (1609-1651). Indeed, for much of its history this drawing has been thought to be by Backer, and it was under that attribution that it was purchased by I.Q. van Regteren Altena in 1929; but Sumowski noted that it is in fact a preparatory study for the figure of an African riding a camel, in the right background of van den Eeckhout’s painting Eliezer and Rebecca at the Well, dated by Sumowski to the early 1660s (Národní Galerie, Prague; Sumowski 1980, op. cit., no. 477, illustrated p. 840; Fig. 1), thereby firmly settling the question of attribution. It is one of only two drawings in this technique that can be directly connected to a painting by the artist: the other, in the Yale University Art Museum (Sumowski 1980, op. cit., no. 615), is a study for the figure of a servant in Elisha and the Shunammite Woman, dated 1649, in the Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw. It was on the basis of these two firm connections that Sumowski was able to reattribute to van den Eeckhout two other drawings executed in the same technique: the Seated man with cloak, hat and gloves in the Prentenkabinet of the Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden (Sumowski 1980, op. cit., no. 730) and the Seated woman seen from behind (Sumowski 1980, op. cit., no. 731), which is also in the van Regteren Altena collection.

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