PROPERTY RESTITUTED TO THE HEIRS OF HANS LUDWIG LARSEN
Christie's is proud to present this group of paintings restituted to the heirs of Hans Ludwig Larsen, whose exceptional collection of Dutch and Flemish pictures owes its existence to Larsen's refined taste and connoisseurship.
Hans Ludwig Larsen was born in Berlin in 1892 but settled in Wassenaar, a region in the Southern Netherlands between Leiden and The Hague, where he built a life with his young wife Suzanne. In 1922, after a chance encounter with two young chemists in Amsterdam, Larsen co-founded the shipping company Wijgula (Wijnhoff & Van Gulpen & Larsen, B.V.) along the Rhine River. In its early years, Wijgula focused on the transportation of sulphuric acid and other chemical substances, and remains one of the world's leading inland tank-barging companies, now based in Druten in the Netherlands.
The immediate success of this venture provided Larsen with the means to foster his interest in Old Master paintings, and he must have spent a great deal of time exploring the works on offer at the numerous galleries devoted to Dutch art in and around his home, such as Kunsthandel P. de Boer in Amsterdam and Firma D. Katz in Dieren. Contemporary taste for Dutch and Flemish 16th and 17th-century art - as personified by the collection of the great scholar and connoisseur Frits Lugt - favored small-scale, exquisitely refined cabinet pictures, which could easily by displayed and enjoyed in the intimacy of a private home. Within these general parameters Larsen, like Lugt, purchased a wide range of objects, including fine examples by lesser-known artists - such as the delicate portrait by Jacob Esselens (lot 2) - in addition to important works by more familiar names, like the classic winter view of 1626 by Jan van Goyen (lot 6).
Even though he lived to be only forty-five, Larsen's achievements as a collector in this field are indisputable and plainly manifest in the group of paintings presented here, which Christie's is honored to bring to the market for the first time in more than three generations.