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Willem Witsen (1860-1923)

Houses along the Oude Waal, Amsterdam

Details
Willem Witsen (1860-1923)
Houses along the Oude Waal, Amsterdam
signed 'Witsen' (lower right)
oil on canvas
40 x 66.5 cm.
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Lot Essay

The present lot depicts houses along the Oude Waal in Amsterdam in the old centre of Amsterdam. Especially the locations in the old centre of the city like the Oude Schans, Kromme Waal, Binnenkant, Prins Hendrikkade and Uilenburg inspired the artist: '(...) een geweldig brok Amsterdam, iets dat je nergens anders zou kunnen vinden - iets ook, dat nooit gemaakt is, - 'k bedoel dingen waarin 't eigen karakter van Amsterdam is uitgedrukt.' (see: I.M. de Groot et al., Willem Witsen 1860-1923, Bussum 2003, pp. 32-33). Witsen chose to look at his subject from the water. Exposed to the elements he rowed his boat through the canals. Witsen preferred to leave the house at the break of dawn, to capture the atmosphere of the still and quiet city devoid of bustling daily activities in the early morning light: 'Van morgen was 'k an vijf uur op en om half zes op 't water - Er was een wolk dauw boven 't water, dat heelemaal in toon lag met de schepen maar daarboven de daken van oude huisjes, de toren met de hooge boomen er omheen belicht door de zon aan den horizont; en 'n puur blauw, heel teer, fijn blauw luchtje, zoo fijn! Dat probeer 'k te schilderen; of liever om er de materialen voor te verzamelen, want 't schilderij of de teekening moet 'k natuurlijk op 't atelier maken.' (see: De Groot, op.cit., p. 95). Out on the water Witsen made quick sketches and studies, sometimes indicating colour and atmosphere to remember after returning to the studio. He often produced several versions of a particular view, using various techniques.

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