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Jan ten Compe (Amsterdam 1713-1761)
Jan ten Compe (Amsterdam 1713-1761)

A view of the Grote Markt, Haarlem, from the northwest; and A view of the Sint-Laurenskerk, Rotterdam, from the northeast

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Jan ten Compe (Amsterdam 1713-1761)
A view of the Grote Markt, Haarlem, from the northwest; and A view of the Sint-Laurenskerk, Rotterdam, from the northeast
the first: signed 'J.T. Kompe f.' (lower right) and dated 'AN / NO / 17 / 30' (center, on the clock)
oil on panel
15 ¾ x 20 ½ in. (40 x 52.1 cm.) each
(2)a pair (2)

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Lot Essay

Jan ten Compe was one of the most important Dutch architectural painters of the 18th century. A resident of Amsterdam and The Hague, his detailed and elegant views were inspired by those of the 17th-century townscape painters Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) and Gerrit Berckheyde (1638-1698). Ten Compe was highly prized in his lifetime and enjoyed the friendship and patronage of many wealthy collectors, including Gerrit Braamcamp (1699-1771), whose collection of 380 Dutch paintings was one of the finest ever assembled.

The present pair of paintings are among the earliest known by ten Compe. Demonstrating his sense of wit, the 17-year-old artist slyly substituted the date ‘AN / NO / 15 / 20’ on the clock of St. Bavo’s tower in the Grote Markt with the date of his painting, ‘AN / NO / 17 / 30’. Though largely accurate, ten Compe has taken liberties with a handful of additional details in this painting. While the coffee house two doors down from the Vleeshal (meat market) is documented in contemporary views by other artists, ten Compe appears to have relocated the Enschede publishing house, whose signage appears on the building at far right, from its quarters on the nearby Frankestraat to the market square. In doing so, he likely intended to underscore Haarlem’s pride in its publishing industry, believed to have begun with Laurens Coster (c. 1370-1440), whom Haarlemmers regarded as the inventor of the printing press.

Both views are painted on panels with earlier, abandoned compositions. A series of gabled canal houses project through the sky of the Laurenskerk, while a pedimented building is visible just above the structures at right in the Grote Markt. Moreover, both paintings display numerous pentimenti as ten Compe refined their compositions. These include the elimination of two standing figures in the center foreground of the Grote Markt and the removal of an upright barrel along the canal and lowering of the rower’s head in the Laurenskerk.

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