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Willem Witsen (Amsterdam 1860-1923)
Willem Witsen (Amsterdam 1860-1923)

A view of the Waalseilandsgracht and the Kraansluis, Amsterdam

Willem Witsen (Amsterdam 1860-1923)
A view of the Waalseilandsgracht and the Kraansluis, Amsterdam
signed 'Witsen.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
53 x 70 cm.
Painted circa 1912-13.
with Kunsthandel Borzo, 's-Hertogenbosch, 1979.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 7 November 1995, lot 56, as: Moored boats in an Amsterdam canal, where acquired by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

Witsen loved to look at his subject from the water. Exposed to the elements he steered his boat through the canals to find his compositions. From 1911 to the end of 1913 he owned a 'dekschuit' from which he assumably painted the present work. Witsen preferred to leave his 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: I.M. de Groot et al., Willem Witsen 1860-1923, Bussum 2003, 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. At the right of the present lot the houses of the Kromme Waal are depicted, and at the left the Binnenkant.

We would like to thank Mr. Freek Heybroek for his kind assistance in cataloguing the present lot.

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