The Kremer Collection – Newsletter XI


To celebrate the opening of the newly extended and refurbished Dordrechts Museum, two works by artists from Dordrecht will be on a one year loan. The works, Ferdinand Bol’s Maria with Child, John the Baptist and Gabriel and Aelbert Cuyp’s Lumberyard near Dordrecht will be on view when the museum re-opens on November 27. With its new entrance hall, new auditorium, new brasserie and new wing a visit to the museum promises to be a very new and exciting experience.

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Ferdinand Bol, Dordrecht 1616 – 1680 Amsterdam
Maria with child, John the Baptist and Gabriël
Canvas, 120 x 90,5 cm
Signed and dated fBol. 1659. (fB in ligature)

2009-04-20 Albert Cuyp small

Aelbert Cuyp, Dordrecht 1620-1691 Dordrecht
Landscape with a timber yard in Dordrecht
Panel, 43 x 53 cm
Signed and dated A. cuijp fecit / 1639



On October 15 the exhibition Lust and Vice: The Seven Deadly Sins from Duerer to Nauman opened in the Kunstmuseum Bern and Zentrum Plau Klee in Bern. The exhibition will run until February 20, 2011.

From the museum website: The Kunstmuseum Bern and the Zentrum Paul Klee devote a comprehensive exhibition to the seven deadly sins, targeting a fitting documentation of artistic preoccupation with this theme from medieval times to the present. The exhibition also addresses the relevance of the notion of sin in contemporary society and how our culture justifies changes in values

Our Avaritia by Gerrit van Honthorst will be one of the highlights.

mailpaintingGerrit van Honthorst, Utrecht 1592 – 1656 Utrecht
Canvas, 75 x 60 cm
Signed and dated: G v Honthorst fc / 162[3?] (abraded)


Below are published the full entries in English on 3 recent acquisitions to the collection that were mentioned in previous Newsletters.


Jan-HalsGabriel Metsu (circle of), Leiden 1629-1667 Amsterdam
A woman baking pancakes with a boy
Panel, 23.5 x 18 cm

Provenance: Ricquier collection (as is clear from a wax seal on the back of the panel); unknown British collection, 19th century (fragment of an old auction catalogue on the back of the panel, ‘G. METZU 44. Interior of a Dutch Kitchen…’); Percy B. Meyer, England; his heirs; sale London, Christie’s, 16 March 1956, lot 56 (as Gabriel Metsu, to Watling); Daan Cevat, London and Guernsey; private collection, 1961-2008; sale Amsterdam, Sotheby’s, 7 May 2008, lot 48 (as ‘Circle of Gabriel Metsu’), to Fondation Aetas Aurea

Literature: F.W. Robinson, Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667): A Study of His Place in Dutch Genre Painting of the Golden Age, New York 1974, p. 42 and p. 150, fig. 83; A. Waiboer, Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667): Life and Work (PhD thesis), New York 2007, no. D-25

Exhibitions: Rembrandt, a childhood dream: the Kremer Collection, masterpieces of Dutch 17th-century painting, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2009 (ex catalogue)

The seventeenth century was one of the great eras of genre paintings: scenes of everyday life. Some were ‘merry company’ scenes, featuring well-to-do burghers as characters making music, writing letters, or eating oysters, while others showed ‘common’ people engaged in less elevated, mundane activities. Genre painters of the Golden Age depicted the daily sale of fish, meat, poultry or fruit, for instance, and showed food being cleaned and prepared.

The latter motif – preparing food − is the focus of this small painting. A woman is baking pancakes, while a small boy waits beside her with a plate in his hand. In the drab interior, the woman with her white cap, white collar, light-coloured apron and red sleeves stands out superbly. The scene, which is painted with a remarkably loose, open touch, gave the artist an opportunity to demonstrate his control of the brush: the large earthenware pot containing batter in the foreground, the play of light on it, and the blazing fire in the right foreground are all rendered highly convincingly.

This little painting, which was recently restored, was probably made in Leiden around 1650-1655.[i] It has not yet been possible to identify the painter, even though the work was exhibited at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem for four months in 2009.[ii] It was once attributed to the Leiden-born artist Gabriel Metsu.[iii] But its style and execution suggest otherwise. For the time being, the attribution ‘circle of Metsu’ must suffice. In all probability the painter worked in Leiden, since the motif of women in simple interiors was particularly popular among artists from that city, among them Gerrit Dou (1613-1675).

Quentin Buvelot, January 2010


1. Dendrochronological research conducted by Professor P. Klein, University of Hamburg, proved that the oak panel was ready to be painted from about 1641 onwards (Klein in a letter of 4 September 2008 to Martin Bijl, who was restoring the painting at the time).

  1. See Exhibitions.
  2. See Robinson 1974, p. 42. Dr Adriaan Waiboer, curator of the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, and a great connoisseur of Metsu’s oeuvre, described the work as ‘a good, but slightly coarse approximation of a painting by Metsu’ (see Waiboer 2007, no. D-25). For Metsu’s early years in Leiden, see A. Waiboer, ‘The early years of Gabriel Metsu’, The Burlington Magazine 147 (2005), pp. 80-90.



Adriaen van Ostade, Haarlem 1610-1685 Haarlem
A laughing man, c.1640
Panel (oval), 15 x 11.4 cm
Monogram to the right of centre: Av. o (Av in ligature)

 Provenance: Anonymous sale Paris (Drouot), 13-14 June 1956, lot 47; collection of Jack and Belle Linsky, New York, sale New York (Sotheby’s), 21 May 1985, lot 141 (ill.); Johnny van Haeften Gallery, London, 1985-1986, exhibited at Pictura, Maastricht in 1986; Douwes Fine Art Gallery, Amsterdam, 1988-1989, exhibited at Pictura, Maastricht in 1988 and TEFAF, Maastricht in 1989; sale Amsterdam (Sotheby’s), 7 May 2008, lot 40 (ill.), to Fondation Aetas Aurea

Exhibitions: Private views: Niederländische Malerei der Sammlung Kremer, Kassel (Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) 2008-09 (ex catalogue); Rembrandt, a Childhood Dream: The Kremer Collection, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2009 (ex catalogue)
Adriaen van Ostade specialised in peasant scenes: he depicted peasants drinking and making merry or fighting in taverns, simple peasant families, market pedlars, and musicians. Throughout his career, besides such scenes of this kind with numerous figures he also produced small paintings of a single figure, so-called tronies of men (and an occasional woman) laughing, drinking, or smoking. This oval painting depicts a man with a broad grin, his humble origins apparent from his rough apparel, tousled hair, and his cap worn at a casual skewed angle on his head. Van Ostade has painted this figure with his characteristic loose brushstrokes, which are well suited to the cheerful, informal nature of the subject. The paint has been applied so thinly that the grain of the wooden panel is clearly visible.

                  Adriaen van Ostade was born and bred in Haarlem, as the son of a weaver.1 His younger, talented brother Isaac also became a painter, after an initial period of apprenticeship in Adriaen’s studio. According to the painters’ biographer Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719), Adriaen van Ostade himself trained with Frans Hals (1582/83-1666) at the same time as Adriaen Brouwer (1605/06-1638).2 This must have been around 1627, when Brouwer – who came from Antwerp – was living in Haarlem.3 Van Ostade became a member of the local St Luke’s Guild in 1634, serving the guild in a variety of official capacities in the years that followed. For instance, in 1647 he was appointed as a head of the guild, and it may have been to mark this festive occasion that Hals painted his dignified portrait of the younger artist. 4 Whether or not Van Ostade was one of Hals’s pupils, his development was unquestionably influenced by the older master. But while Hals primarily made his reputation as a superb portraitist, Van Ostade devoted himself mainly to paintings, drawings, and prints of peasant scenes. Brouwer too excelled in this genre, and the work of the two artists displays many similarities, in choice of subject matter as well as painting technique.

                  Van Ostade’s early work is more monochromatic in tone than his later paintings. In addition, the peasants in his earliest tavern interiors are more caricature-like than his figures from around 1640. The undated Laughing man can be dated to the 1640s, when Van Ostade produced a number of similar tronies. The small painting is closely related to a dated work from 1642, which is now in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. There too we see a laughing peasant with long, tousled hair, dressed in virtually identical clothing and also sporting a hat set askew on his head. What is more, this man is painted on an oval panel with virtually the same dimensions as the work discussed here. It is quite possible that A laughing man, like the similar work in Rotterdam, originally had a companion-piece. For the Rotterdam painting is one of a pair of pendants: a laughing man with a more serious figure as its counterpart.5 Perhaps this Laughing man also had a pendant depicting the opposite mood.

                  With his Laughing man, Van Ostade was working in a tradition that in any case leads back to another painter of peasant life: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1526/30-1569), some of whose peasant tronies have been preserved. Bruegel’s name has also been linked to a series of 36 prints of peasant heads in small ovals, in which the tronies were linked in pairs. The captions state that these prints were based on designs by Bruegel, but whether or not he actually contributed to them is unclear. It was a popular series in any case, since a second series was published, consisting of twelve copies in reverse image after prints from the first series. 6 Brouwer is named as the maker of these peasant tronies, but it has since been demonstrated on stylistic grounds that he had nothing to do with them. 7 Be that as it may, the prints were widely disseminated in the seventeenth century, and it seems likely that print series of this kind served as a source of inspiration for Van Ostade. 8 But while the tronies in these prints are exaggerated caricatures, Van Ostade chose to give his Laughing peasant a good-natured appearance. It is this more natural style that led Houbraken to assert, in the following century, that no one ever depicted peasant scenes as ‘humorously and naturally’ as Van Ostade, a humorous quality that this Laughing man exemplifies.9

Lea van der Vinde, February 2010


  1. For Van Ostade’s biography, see I. van Thiel-Stroman in N. Köhler (ed.), Painting in Haarlem 1500-1850: The collection of the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem 2006, pp. 258-261.
  2. A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 3 vols., The Hague 1718-1721, vol. 1, p. 347.
  3. A. van der Willigen, F. Meijer, A dictionary of Dutch and Flemish still-life painters working in oils: 1525-1725, Leiden 2003, p. 155.
  4. This painting (94 x 75 cm) is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, inv. no. 1937.1.70: A. Wheelock, Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, Washington 1995, pp. 79-83 (ill.).
  5. See F. Lammertse, Dutch Genre Paintings of the 17th Century, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1998, pp. 126-129 (ill.).
  6. Hollstein, vol. 3, pp. 310-311.
  7. H. Scholz, Brouwer invenit: Druckgraphische Reproduktionen des 17.-19. Jahrhunderts nach Gemälden und Zeichnungen Adriaen Brouwers, Marburg 1985, pp. 26, 172-173.
  8. The link between this print series and the tronies painted by Van Ostade is discussed in Lammertse 1998, pp. 126-129.
  9. Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 1, pp. 347-348.




Egbert Lievenszoon van der Poel, Delft 1621-1664 Rotterdam
Village Fire at Night, 1658
Panel, 27.9 x 35.1 cm
Signed and dated at lower left: E van derPoel 1658


Provenance: sale Amsterdam (Glerum), 15 April 2008, lot 12 (ill.), to Fondation Aetas Aurea

Exhibitions: Private views: Niederländische Malerei der Sammlung Kremer, Kassel (Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) 2008-09 (ex catalogue); Rembrandt, a Childhood Dream: The Kremer Collection, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2009 (ex catalogue)
Egbert van der Poel specialised in a highly specific sub-genre of landscape painting: city and village fires at night. Any blazing fire provided a dazzling spectacle, but the contrast between the blackness of the night and a luminous sea of flames gave scenes of this kind an added fascination. Time is needed to accustom one’s eyes to the darkness of the painting, after which numerous previously invisible details appear to come into view. And so it is in this painting, dating from 1658. The viewer’s eye is initially drawn to the flames shooting from the thatched roof of a farmhouse. The blaze is scattering countless burning embers ­­– small dots of red and yellow, finishing touches that Van der Poel added with the tip of his brush. The fire does not appear to be spreading very fast: part of the roof is still intact, and those inside are able to save themselves and some of their possessions, with the help of bystanders. Property is being piled high on a horse-drawn cart. But the hectic atmosphere generated by a fire is also palpable, especially in the man seen on the left, on the path: the despair is clearly visible in his features.

                  Van der Poel was born in Delft, but he is mainly associated with Rotterdam, where he is believed to have had his training. In 1650, the artist enrolled in the St Luke’s Guild in Delft, but after the devastating explosion of a gunpowder store on 12 October 1654, in which he lost a child, he decided to leave the city for good and to settle in Rotterdam.1 Van der Poel’s interest in disasters, as reflected in his village fires, is also clear from the many paintings he made of the gunpowder explosion in his native city. There was evidently a lively market for scenes of this kind, a seventeenth-century variant of today’s ‘disaster tourism’. But it was above all his brandjes [fires], as they were called, that made him famous. He was even celebrated in his own day as Holland’s best ‘fire painter’!2 The technique of depicting fire was discussed as a separate theme in painting manuals, with the correct use of colour and the careful observation of real fires featuring as the main points of emphasis.3

Van der Poel was not the only artist who practised this sub-genre. Aert van der Neer (1603/04-1677), who specialised in nocturnal scenes, also produced brandjes, which were compositionally very different from the highly distinctive work of Van der Poel. While Van der Neer frequently placed the seat of the fire on the horizon, as part of the landscape, Van der Poel brought the fire to the foreground, making it the primary theme. Zooming in on the fire in this way also enabled Van der Poel to devote more attention to the details that make his scenes so lively: people escaping or extinguishing fires, a variety of animals, typically Dutch pollard willows, and usually a small lake or river in the foreground. Like Van der Neer, Van der Poel also painted nocturnal scenes without fire, in which the focus was on the marvellous play of moonlight on the landscape – paintings of this kind were aptly called maneschijntjes – moonshines.4

It seems that the majority of nocturnal fires were painted in Rotterdam. Most of Van der Poel’s brandjes were made after his move to Rotterdam, and other artists who were active in the genre also came from this city. Two of Van der Poel’s followers (both from Rotterdam), Adam Colonia (1634-1685) and Philip van Leeuwen (?-1723), painted nocturnal pieces that greatly resemble his work, in style as well as subject matter. While Colonia was trained by his father, Isaack Colonia (1611/12-1663), Van Leeuwen may well have been apprenticed to Van der Poel. Their work is sometimes so similar as to be almost indistinguishable.5

Although Van der Poel also painted historical disasters, such as the gunpowder explosion in Delft, most of his disasters sprang from his imagination. An exception to this rule is his 1662 painting of the great fire that raged in the village of De Rijp in the night of 6 January 1654. This well-nigh inextinguishable fire ravaged more than 800 buildings, making it a calamity on the same scale as the explosion in Delft that same year.6 But Van der Poel focused chiefly on fictional fires like the one shown here; he painted large numbers of them. This high productivity lent a rather uneven quality to his brandjes. But Fire in a village at night is one of his more carefully elaborated paintings, which, thanks to its fine state of preservation, still gives a convincing representation of the ‘Light and Fire in the Night’.

Lea van der Vinde, February 2010


  1. For Van der Poel’s biography, see M. Verhoef in N. Schade (ed.), Rotterdamse Meesters uit de Gouden Eeuw, Rotterdam (Historisch Museum Rotterdam) 1994-95, pp. 126-129, 293; A. Goldschmidt, ‘Egbert van der Poel und Adriaen van der Poel’, Oud Holland 40 (1922), pp. 59-66.
  2. G. van Spaan, Beschryvinge der stad Rotterdam en eenige omleggende dorpen verdeeld in 3 boeken, Rotterdam 1698, p. 422
  3. W. Beurs, De groote waereld in ’t kleen geschildert of schilderagtig tafereel van ’s Werelds schilderijen kortelijk vervat in Ses boeken . . . , Amsterdam 1692, pp. 124-129, see M. Verhoef in Rotterdam 1994-95, p. 125.
  4. On brandjes and maneschijntjes and the history of this genre, see M. Verhoef, ‘Maneschijntjes en brandjes’, Kunstschrift 6 (1994), pp. 12-21; M. Verhoef, ‘Brantjes en Maneschijntjes: Over lichteffecten in de nacht’, in Rotterdam 1994-95, pp. 125-131. Van der Poel also painted scenes by daylight, including beach scenes and genre paintings set in interiors.
  5. On Colonia and Van Leeuwen, see Rotterdam 1994-95, pp. 275, 175-176 (Colonia) and pp. 190-191, 286-287 (Van Leeuwen).
  6. Panel, 57.3 x 84 cm, Museum In ’t Houten Huis, De Rijp; see A. Waiboer, M. Franken, Northern Nocturnes: Nightscapes in the Age of Rembrandt, Dublin (National Gallery of Ireland) 2005, p. 91.