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Albert van Spiers, called Piramied (Amsterdam 1666-1718)
Albert van Spiers, called Piramied (Amsterdam 1666-1718)

Design for a floral frontispiece with a portrait medallion of Agnes Block

Details
Albert van Spiers, called Piramied (Amsterdam 1666-1718)
Design for a floral frontispiece with a portrait medallion of Agnes Block
signed 'Albert van Spiers. invr' and with inscriptions 'Nette Afbeeldeng Van Uytheemsche Plant En Bloem - Gesvassen Gequeckt door - AGNETA BLOCK Op Vyver - Hoffe.' and 'Pieter de Wolff Schript J: Helena Herolt'
black chalk, watercolor, bodycolor heightened with gold and gum arabic
17¼ x 12 5/8 in. (438 x 322 mm.)
Provenance
John, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792), perhaps his mount.
W. Esdaile (L. 2617, twice), his inscription and shelfmark 'Ld Bute's colln 1794 P48 N24' and number '24'.

Lot Essay

Dr Sam Segal has kindly suggested that this drawing may be the frontispiece for an album of drawings by Johanna Helena Heroldt illustrating exotic flowers bred by the wealthy Menonite Agnes Block (1629-1704) at her famous estate at Vijverhof on the Vecht near Utrecht. Block was one of the most important breeders of rare plants in the period and commissioned the leading artists of the day to paint her specimens (see S. Segal, 'Maria Sibylla Merian als Blumenmalerin', in Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Künstlerin und Naturforscherin, exhib. cat., Frankfurt, Historiches Museum, 1998). The Block family coat-of-arms appear at the bottom of this drawing, which is inscribed by her step-son Pieter de Wolff. Seven drawings by Herolt, eldest daughter of Maria Sybilla Merian, were in the group bought by Valerius Röver from Block's heirs, while 70 were bought directly from the artist by Johannes Burmann, Professor of Botany at Amsterdam University (P.F. Gwinner, Kunst und Kuünstler in Frankfurt am Main : vom dreizehnten Jahrhundert bis zur Eröffnung des Städel'schen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt, 1862, p. 174). Forty-nine numbered drawings by Herolt, which may be from a similar series to one for which the present drawing is a frontispiece, are in the Herzog Anton-Ulrich Museum, Brunswick.
The portrait medallion of Agnes Block at the top of the present drawing is copied from a medal struck by J. Roscam of which gold and silver examples are in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht.
We are grateful to Dr Segal for his help in preparing this note.

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