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Jacob Cats (Altenau 1741-1799 Amsterdam)
Jacob Cats (1741-1799) Jacob Cats was the son of Johannes, a Dutch book-dealer who was living at Altona in Germany at the time of his son's birth, but moved back to his native Amsterdam when the boy was still an infant. The young Jacob first trained with his father as a bookbinder, but exhibited a greater talent for painting and so joined the workshop of the wallpaper painter Jan Hendrik Troost van Groenendoelen (circa 1722-1794), before setting up a wallpaper factory of his own with the financial support of his friends. His heart, however, lay with drawing and he became renowned as an accomplished draughtsman of pastoral scenes, some recording the bucolic peace of Dutch summer landscapes and others continuing the popular tradition of spirited winter scenes. Among the friends who helped Cats to establish his factory was the banker Johann Goll van Franckenstein the Elder (1722-1785), who would exert another kind of influence over the young artist. Goll van Franckenstein had adopted a numbering system for the drawings in his art collection, recorded in Lugt's Marques de Collections as L. 2987, and his precise notations on the verso inspired Cats to develop a very similar system. In contrast to Goll van Franckenstein, Cats was not numbering a collection of drawings that he owned, but rather establishing a way to order his own by date of execution. Jane Shoaf Turner and Leslie Schwartz have compiled lists of Cats's numbered drawings, on which the numbers are often accompanied by dates or inscriptions. Most of the numbered drawings are in pen, ink and wash rather than in finished watercolour, and Jane Turner has identified several instances where compositions from numbered drawings exist in second, more highly finished versions. This suggests that the system was devised to lend order to a series of model or pattern books from which Cats's friends and patrons could choose designs to be worked up into more polished watercolours. For further information on Cats and his inscriptions, see J. Shoaf Turner, 'Jacob Cats and the identification of a "Pseudo-Goll van Franckenstein" numbering system', Master Drawings, XXVIII, 1990, no. 3, pp. 323-31 and L.A. Schwartz, 'The "Thoughts" ("Gedagten") of Jacob Cats', Delineavit et Sculpsit, XXXI, December, 2007, pp. 57-77.
Jacob Cats (Altenau 1741-1799 Amsterdam)

A winter landscape with two peasants pushing a sledge laden with logs, and a swineherd to the left

Details
Jacob Cats (Altenau 1741-1799 Amsterdam)
A winter landscape with two peasants pushing a sledge laden with logs, and a swineherd to the left
signed and dated 'J: Cats inv. et fecit 1799' (verso)
pen and brown ink and watercolour
7 1/8 x 10 in. (18.2 x 25.8 cm.)

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Benjamin Peronnet
Benjamin Peronnet

Lot Essay

Jacob Cats's most celebrated drawings are his evocations of Dutch winter landscapes, which use the untouched white of the paper to add lustre to frost and snow. In some instances, such as the winter landscape near Leedam sold at Christie's, South Kensington, on 8 December 2011, lot 222, these scenes can be associated with series showing the months of the year (in that case, December). The present drawing, however, cannot be linked with certainty to any such group, due to the lack of a sequence number on the verso, but its date makes it clear that it was one of Cats's final drawings, executed in the year of his death. Another drawing from this year, dated and bearing the sequence number '746', Landscape with a peasant, his dog and his flocks, was offered at Sotheby's, Amsterdam, on 4 November 2003, lot 119.

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