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Edwaert Collier (Breda c. 1640-1708 London)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
Edwaert Collier (Breda c. 1640-1708 London)

A globe, a casket of jewels and medallions, books, a hurdy-gurdy, a bagpipe, a lute, a violin, an upturned silver tazza and roemer, a nautilus shell, a recorder, a shawm, a print with a self-portrait of the artist and a musical score on a draped table, a curtain above

Details
Edwaert Collier (Breda c. 1640-1708 London)
A globe, a casket of jewels and medallions, books, a hurdy-gurdy, a bagpipe, a lute, a violin, an upturned silver tazza and roemer, a nautilus shell, a recorder, a shawm, a print with a self-portrait of the artist and a musical score on a draped table, a curtain above
signed and dated '1662 / EDVWAERDVS. / KOLLIER' (on the print, lower right)
oil on canvas
65 3/8 x 54 in. (166.1 x 137.2 cm.)
Provenance
John de Vries van Doesburgh, Leeuwarden and The Hague, by 1909, and by descent to the following,
H.E. Jan-Willem Semeijns de Vries van Doesburgh, the former Dutch Ambassador to Denmark; Christie’s, New York, 25 May 1999, lot 10 ($442,500).
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 7 December 2006, lot 28, when acquired by the present owner.
Literature
U. Thieme and H. Becker, Allegmeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, Munich, 1992, VII, p. 263.
E. Legène, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Music and Painting in the Golden Age, The Hague, 1994, pp. 103 and 104, fig. 18.
E. Legène, ‘The Early Baroque Recorder: “Whose lovely, magically sweet, soulful sound can move hearts of stone”’, The recorder in the 17th Century: Proceedings of the International Recorder Symposium, Utrecht 1993, Utrecht, 1995, p. 107.
L.P. Grijp, ‘Klanken op Kunst’, Kunstschrift, 1998, p. 38, no. 6, illustrated (detail).
R. Griscom and D. Lasocki, The Recorder: A Research and Information Guide, III, Abingdon, 2012, p. 90.
Exhibited
The Hague, Gemeente Museum, on loan, 1962-1984.
Chicago, Art Institute, on loan, 1986-1989.
Minneapolis, Institute of Arts, on loan, 1989-1999.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Maja Markovic
Maja Markovic

Lot Essay

Among the ravel of jewels, tomes and draperies, the sullen murmur of musical instruments can still be heard performing the score of a foregone melody. With its familiar grammar of visual symbols, this vanitas invites the observer to contemplate the brevity of human life, the frailty of man and the vanity of all worldly things.

Painted by Edwaert Collier, whose self-portrait peers at us from the lower right of the canvas, this picture demonstrates the artist’s unusual playfulness and curious eye for detail. Born in the Southern Netherlandish town of Breda in around 1640, Collier spent much of his life between Leiden and London. Though he produced the majority of his vanitas still-lifes during his residence in Leiden (1667-1693), this work dates to his early years in Haarlem and shows the possible influence of Vincent Laurensz. van der Vinne and David Bailly. The sophisticated composition and technical virtuosity suggest that it was a significant commission. The only comparable pictures in terms of scale are also early works, including that in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. no. A3471), and the picture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 71.19), both also dated 1662. Only two further similar works by Collier date to that year, one of which was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, 31 January 2013, lot 68, for $506,500.

Through an arrangement of picturesque disorder, Collier unveils a myriad of emblems that draw the viewer in to scrutinise each symbolic ingredient: the inverted green-glass roemer and silver tazza balance precariously at the edge of the table with transient allusion, recalling the still-lifes of Willem Claesz Heda and Pieter Claesz, while the ephemeral threads of time snap with the strings of the nearby violin; the nautilus shell serves as a replacement to the more ubiquitous image of the human skull, acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death, or memento mori; the terrestrial globe and treasure box evoke the futility of riches and worldly accomplishment, while the creeping ivy nearby represents resurrection and eternal life. At the centre of the composition, a slip of paper bears the words ‘vanitantum et omina vanitas’ (‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ Ecclesiastes 1:2- 3), underlining the theme of the picture.

Among the musical instruments lies a score by Jacob van Eyck entitled Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute of the Garden of Pleasure, published in 1646; see Grijp, op. cit., pp. 37-43), opened at a variation on the melody Questa Dolce Sirena by Gastoldi. Alluding to the sirens of classical mythology, whose voices lure sailors to their demise, the musical notation all but resuscitates Gastoldi’s lingering tune, and like a siren’s call, entices the viewer to delve into the picture’s hidden messages, which are both seductive and foreboding.

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