Dutch Old Masters
Circle of Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634). A winter landscape with townsfolk skating on a frozen moat. Oil on panel. Estimate: €100,000-150,000. This work is offered in the Made in Holland sale on 6 October at Christie’s Amsterdam
Figure skaters were a common sight on the frozen lakes of the Netherlands in the 1600s — an exceptionally cold period known as the ‘Little Ice Age’. This oil painting shows an elegant line of skaters, speeding into the hazy distance of a winter landscape.
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The subject was one that emerged in mid 16th century Flanders, depicted by artists including Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and, in the early 17th century, by Flemish masters including Gillis van Coninxloo and David Vinckboons. Settling in Amsterdam, the artists were amongst a number who painted winter landscapes — a theme that would be revisited throughout the Dutch Golden Age, reaching its peak in celebrated works by artists such as Hendrick Avercamp.
Displaying both Dutch and Flemish influences, this icy scene is thought to have been painted by an anonymous artist working in Amsterdam.
Gerrit Schouten (1779-1839), Paramaribo, 1811. A Dutch colonial polychrome decorated papier maché diorama of a slave dance. The diorama set in a glazed case with giltwood frame, and signature panel lower left inscribed Door G Schouten Fecit 1811/G Schouten Fecit 1811. Estimate: €8,000-12,000. This work is offered in the Made in Holland sale on 6 October at Christie’s Amsterdam
Gerrit Carl François Schouten lived in Paramribo, the capital of formed Dutch colony Surinam, from 1779 to 1839. He was the third, and eldest child of Hendrik Schouten and Johanna Schouten, a black woman who had studied in the Dutch republic.
Schouten was perceived as a non-Dutch native, a status that, in the 18th and 19th century, had a profound affect on his social standing. Though Schouten attended school, as an artist, he was entirely self-taught, focusing the majority of his practice on three-dimensional models of his native Surinam.
These dioramas proved to be a popular souvenir for travellers and European settlers returning home; between 1810 and 1839, François received a number of commissions, many of which are now held in European collections.
In addition to dioramas, Schouten produced botanical and zoological drawings, depicting the flora and fauna of the ‘New World’ for collectors and researchers, as scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian had done a century before him.
Extremely popular in his own time, this artistic recognition was met with high prices from collectors keen to own an example of his work. In 1828, his work was recognized with a gold medal, awarded by King William I.
After his death in 1839, Schouten’s work spread across the world — the artist’s own story temporarily fading into obscurity. In 1999, his drawings and dioramas were catalogued and exhibited for the first time.
19th century art
Marius Bauer (The Hague 1867-1932 Amsterdam). A Procession with Elephants, India, circa 1906. Oil on panel. Estimate: €30,000-50,000. This work is offered in the Made in Holland sale on 6 October at Christie’s Amsterdam
In the 19th century, painters across Europe were of the captivated by the ‘Orient’ — the exotic and unknown land that became the source of inspiration for countless works of art. ‘Orientalist’ painters began to work across the continent, presenting a shared subject in a remarkable range of styles.
Of all the Orientalists, Marius Bauer (1867-1932) stands out as one of the most prolific, painting imagined or remembered glimpses of everyday life in Eastern landscapes.
The support of Amsterdam-based art dealer Elbert Jan van Wisselingh (1848-1912) enabled Bauer to travel extensively — a journey to British India in 1897 proving particularly influential. Whilst there, the artist completed seven sketchbooks, his drawings providing inspiration for a number of paintings over the next 20 years.
Painted shortly after the turn of the 20th century, A Procession with Elephants, India is a captivating homage to the artist’s journey. As with many Orientalist paintings, the scene is a mixture between fantasy and reality, the artist using vibrant colour to capture a spectacle unknown to most Europeans of the period.
Today, Bauer is widely considered to be the most renowned Dutch Orientalist.
Red-blue chair designed by G. Th. Rietveld in 1918, executed by G. A. Van de Groenekan in 1966. Composed of thirteen square section billets supporting a laminated wood rectangular seat and back-rest, painted in black, yellow, red and blue. Branded H.G.M. G.A.V.D.GROENEKAN DE BILT NEDERLAND. 85.5 cm. high. Estimate: €15,000-20,000. This work is offered in the Made in Holland sale on 6 October at Christie’s Amsterdam
Designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917, Red and Blue Chair was one of the first examples of a three-dimensional work made in the De Stijl style. Founded in Amsterdam in 1917, the movement prioritised reduced forms and a simple palette, its most prominent members including Piet Mondrian.
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Dutch designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld was a man who thought a great deal about what it means to sit. Contesting conventional approaches to home furnishings, he insisted a chair should provide neither a space to relax or let the mind wonder: ‘We must remember,’ he said, ‘that sit is a verb too’.
With their hard seats and straight backs, one of the functions of Rietveld’s chairs is to sharpen the sitter’s senses, encouraging a state of alert awareness. Comfort was not in the designer’s interests: this is a chair intended to keep the user physically and mentally ‘toned up’.
Post-war and Contemporary art
Armando (B.1929), Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994) and Henk Peeters (1925-2013), Triptiek (Nul): Rood-Wit-Blauw. (i) Painted sheetmetal and nails on chipwood, Executed in 1962 (ii) Painted corrugated cardboard on chipwood. Executed in 1964 (iii) Feathers on cotton each: 30 x 40 cm. Overall: 92 x 41.5 cm. Estimate: €60,000-80,000. This work is offered in the Made in Holland sale on 6 October at Christie’s Amsterdam
Triptiek (Nul): Rood-Wit-Blauw is a collaboration between the four co-founders of the Dutch Nul group: Armando, Jan Schoonhoven, Henk Peeters and Jan Henderikse. Conceived in 1960, the movement sought to veer away from the expressive, painterly style of groups such as CoBrA, seeking to infuse painted surfaces with a sense of light and movement.
Works by Nul artists frequently use repetition or seriality, the group dramatically proclaiming the ‘death’ of the original work. The movement’s aims found much in common with those of the Düsseldorf-based ZERO group, founded just a few years earlier by artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene.
In 1964, Nul founder Jan Schoonhoven wrote of ZERO: ‘The absence of preference for particular places and points in the work of art is essential to ZERO and necessary to provide an isolated reality. The geometric side of ZERO is consequently geared to extreme simplicity, an organization of very simple forms, a reality derived from that which actually exists. ZERO is first and foremost a new concept of reality, in which the individual role of the artist is kept to a minimum.’
Triptiek (Nul): Rood-Wit-Blauw is an excellent representation of each of its artist’s individual styles, comprising Armando’s steel plates, Schoonhoven’s cardboard ridges, Peeters’ feathers and Henderikse’s found objects — together, epitomising the spirit of Nul.
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