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THE BEACH SCENE IN 17TH CENTURY DUTCH PAINTING
The beach scene, an important sub-genre in Dutch landscape painting in the 17th Century, was both painted by specialists of marine paintings and those artists that mostly depicted the Dutch countryside. As with landscape painting in general, the origins of the beach scene can be found in 16th Century Flemish painting. The beach was frequently used as setting for religious scenes and historical events: biblical stories, like The Miraculous Draught of Fishes and Christ Preaching from a Boat, and arrivals and embarkations of historical figures, accompanied by sumptuous ceremony. Only at the start of the 17th Century, the Dutch painters Hendrik Vroom (Haarlem 1566-1640), Cornelis van Wieringen (Haarlem 1567/77-1633) and Adam Willaerts (London 1577-1664 Utrecht) first represented the beach, with all the activities taking place there, as a subject in its own right.
Jan Porcellis (Gent 1583/5-1632 Zoeterwoude) is the first painter that can be considered a specialist in the genre. In the 1620s, he explored the full possibilities of the subject as a vehicle for depictions of atmospheric effects, obviously finding inspiration on the Dutch beaches themselves. The boats and fishermen, that were still prominently present in the earlier depictions, are reduced to staffage and the different types of weather with clear and cloudy skies and calm and rough seas became the real subject. Porcellis and his followers (see lot 72) also reduced the palette of blues and greens to a more tonal one. At the same time, his contemporaries Pieter de Molijn (London 1595-1661 Haarlem), Salomon van Ruysdael (Naarden 1600/3-1670 Haarlem) and Jan van Goyen (Leiden 1569-1656 Den Haag) were exploring this tonal style in their depictions of the Dutch countryside. Van Goyen occasionally painted beach scenes as well and so did his follower Abraham Susenier (Leiden c. 1620-na 1666 Dordrecht) (see lot 71).
Although still very much influenced by the tonal painters, a younger generation started to introduce new elements in the beach scene from the 1640s onwards. For instance, Willem Kool (Haarlem 1608/9-1666) (see lots 69 and 70) and Egbert van der Poel (Delft 1621-1664 Rotterdam) (lot 68) used somewhat brighter colours and warmer light. Under the influence of Jacob van Ruisdael (Haarlem 1629/30-1681), patches of light are introduced in the middle ground of their paintings as well. And in the works by the artists of this generation the activity on the beach becomes more important again. Especially the paintings by Cornelis Beelt (Rotterdam 1640-1702 Haarlem of Rotterdam), whose style is close to that of Kool, are crowded with figures. Beelt also depicted historical events set on beaches, in the old tradition, like The Departure of King Charles II from the Beach at Scheveningen in 1660 (see lot 66). Jacob Esselens (Amsterdam 1626-1687) introduced an orange glow in the spectacular sunlit skies in his beach scenes (see lot 67). The elegantly dressed figures in his compositions seem to enjoy the view on the seaside with the evening falling in.