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Pieter van Slingeland (Leiden 1640-1691)
Pieter van Slingeland (Leiden 1640-1691)

A woman cooking pancakes with a young boy before a hearth

Pieter van Slingeland (Leiden 1640-1691)
A woman cooking pancakes with a young boy before a hearth
oil on panel
16 5/8 X 13¾ in. (42.7 X 35.1 cm.)
Madame de Haan-Bierens, Amsterdam, 1842; sold under the name of her father
David Bierens (1760-1827); his sale, Frederick Muller, Amsterdam, 15 November 1881, lot 18, where recorded as signed with initials 'P.V.S.' (on the chair).
Private collection, Great Britain.
with Edward Speelman, London; from whom acquired by the late father of the previous owners, 1959.
English private collection; Sotheby's, London, 5 July 2006, lot 11 (£108,000).
J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné etc., London, 1842, V, p. 27, no. 8. C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, V, London 1913, p. 442, no. 72, as signed with monogram.

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Lot Essay

In a modest yet tidy interior, an older woman sits over a small fire cooking a golden pancake. Beside her sits a small boy, resting his hands politely in his lap. His slight smile and wide-eyed attention intimate his eagerness for his treat to solidify in the pan. Sitting nearby are a child's high chair, adorned with delicately painted panels, a foot warmer, and an empty shoe, details which lend an air of domestic familiarity to the pair, perhaps a grandmother and grandchild. Such representations of intimate everyday activities were common among 17th-century painters in Leiden, the city where Slingeland was born and spent his career. Counted among the Leiden 'fine painters', Slingeland was a protégé of Gerrit Dou and in 1661 joined the Guild of St. Luke, for which he later served as dean. He adopted many of the same subjects as Dou, who had also portrayed a pancake maker in The Pancake Baker of around 1650-1655 (Uffizi Gallery, Florence, inv. 1246). Like Dou, Slingeland shows an earthenware pot filled with batter. Slingeland, however, included the carefully studied detail of batter dripping down the side of the pot, the kind of astute observation that likely prompted contemporary Samuel van Leeuwen to write that Slingeland may well have surpassed his master (see Van Leeuwen, Korte beschrijving van het Lugdunum batavorum, nu Leyden, Leiden, 1672, pp. 191-192, quoted in E.J. Sluijter et al., Leidse Fijnschilders, Zwolle, 1988, p. 205).

According to John Smith and Hofstede de Groot (loc. cit.), this painting originally formed a pendant with a scene of an old couple in a garret, last recorded in a sale held at the Palais de Beaux-Arts, Brussels, on 9 March 1953, lot 127. The two works share a provenance, as in 1842 they were both listed as in the collection of Madame de Haan-Bierens in Amsterdam and sold in her family's sale in 1881. Together, the pair conveys the importance of older generations passing along values and traditions to children - priorities considered vital during the Protestant Reformation and the establishment of the Dutch Republic - as well as the tenderness of child-rearing, a distinctive and recurring message of Dutch art in Slingeland's day (see M. Westermann, Art and Home: Dutch Interiors in the Age of Rembrandt, Zwolle, 2001, pp. 15-81).

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