Overview

This large double portrait on horseback is unusual in Dutch art, because equestrian likenesses were initially reserved for sitting monarchs. Traditional portrait convention would have placed the woman to the left and slightly behind the man, yet this elegant lady on her magnificent steed occupies center stage. The identity of the sitters has not been confirmed, but the woman’s prominence indicates her high socioeconomic status. It has been suggested that this double portrait was commissioned in 1654 to celebrate the marriage of Adriaen Stevensz Snouck with Erkenraad Matthisdr Berk, daughter of Aelbert Cuyp’s patron Matthijs Berk, who served as Dordrecht’s chief representative in the States General.

Cuyp originally included a larger hunting party, but then reworked and simplified the composition and modified the two figures. The burdock plants at the left, for instance, conceal several dogs under the overpaint. The man originally wore a bright red military-style tunic and cloak, plus a hat atop his shorter hair, while the woman’s shoulders used to be covered with a plain flat collar. The more refined attire of the woman’s costume points to the shift away from sober black toward the more opulent French style that became fashionable in about 1660. The imaginary background recalls the castles and monasteries that Cuyp had sketched during an earlier trip up the Rhine river valley into Germany.

Inscription

lower left: A.Cuijp.

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

(Thomas Emmerson [c. 1776- 1855], London) before 1834.[1] purchased through Henry Artaria by Edmund Higginson [1802-1871], Saltmarshe Castle, near Bromyard, Herefordshire, before 1842;[2] (his sale, Christie & Manson, London, 4 June 1846, no. 212, as The Departure for the Chase, bought in); (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 16 June 1860, no. 34, as The Departure for the Chase); (Charles J. Nieuwenhuys, Brussels and London). Adrian John Hope [1811-1863], London; (his estate sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 30 June 1894, no. 22, as Grand Landscape); (Charles J. Wertheimer, London). (Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris); sold 1894 to Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania;[3] inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

2001
Aelbert Cuyp, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2001-2002, no. 40, repro.

Bibliography

1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 5(1834):334, no. 177; 9(1842):664, no. 48.
1885
Catalogue of Paintings Forming the Collection of P. A. B. Widener, Ashbourne, near Philadelphia. 2 vols. Paris, 1885-1900: 2(1900):142.
1894
Richter, Jean Paul. "Versteigerung der Adrian Hope-Sammlung in London." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 17 (June 1894): 331.
1898
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Illustrated Catalogue of 300 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English schools, being some of the principal pictures which have at various time formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1898: 18-19, no. 9.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 2(1909):183-184, no. 618.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 2(1908):174, no. 618.
1913
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis, and Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Pictures in the collection of P. A. B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: Early German, Dutch & Flemish Schools. Philadelphia, 1913: unpaginated, repro.
1914
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Hundred masterpieces. A selection from the pictures by old masters which form or have formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1914: 6, no. 1, repro.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1927
Staatliche Gemäldegalerie. Katalog der Staatlichen Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden. 11th ed. Dresden, 1927: 571.
1930
Holmes, Jerrold. "The Cuyps in America." Art in America 18 (June 1930): 168, 181, 185, no. 35.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 36, repro.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Works of art from the Widener collection. Washington, 1942: 5.
1948
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 56, repro.
1953
Reiss, Stephen. "Aelbert Cuyp." The Burlington Magazine 95, no. 599 (February 1953): 45, pl. 14.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 35.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 28, repro.
1974
Broos, Ben P. J. "Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Pole and His Horse." Simiolus 7, no. 4 (1974): 198 n. 9.
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 90, repro.
1975
Reiss, Stephen. Aelbert Cuyp. Boston, 1975: 165, no. 124, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 298-299, color repro.
1979
Dumas, Charles. In het Zadel: het Nederlands Ruiterportret van 1550-1900. Exh. cat. Fries Museum, Leeuwarden; Noordbrabants Museum, 's-Hertogenbosch; Provinciaal Museum van Drenthe, Assen. 's-Hertogenbosch, 1979: 104-105, no. 69, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 298, no. 397, color repro.
1984
Wright, Christopher. Catalogue of Old Master Paintings from a Private Collection in the United States. Bradford and London, 1984: 12, 27.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 110, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 306.
1992
Chong, Alan. "Aelbert Cuyp and the Meanings of Landscape." Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1992: no. 148.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 50-56, color repro. 53.
2001
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Aelbert Cuyp. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; National Gallery, London; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Washington, 2001: no. 40, 172-174.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 189, no. 150, color repro.

Conservation Notes

The original support, a fairly coarse fabric, has been lined with the vertical tacking margins trimmed. Cusping is visible along all edges. Both the top and bottom tacking margins have been unfolded and incorporated into the picture plane. The painting is generally in good condition, although tears are found near the top edge, left of center, and the right edge, near the lower right corner. The canvas was prepared with a double ground: an orange-red lower layer covered by a gray upper layer.

Paint is applied in thin opaque layers. Numerous artist’s changes are visible as pentimenti and with infrared reflectography at 1.2 to 5 microns [1] and X-radiography. The man had shorter hair and wore a brimmed hat, a decorated tunic, and an embroidered cape tied under his plain collar. The woman, whose proper right arm was raised to hold the reins, wore a large brimmed hat pushed back on her head, a cape, and an ornate dress that fell over the horse’s right side. The white horse’s decorated martingale was slung lower. The boy in the middleground was running, accompanied by five greyhounds. Contour changes were made in the seated rider at the far left and in the lower left landscape.

The lining canvas was in place when the painting was treated privately in 1942, and records indicate at least two generations of inpainting were present. Prior to acquisition, discolored varnish and earlier inpainting were removed, and a surface coating of varnish applied. The painting was treated in 1998–1999, at which time the 1942 varnish and inpainting, which had discolored, were removed. During that treatment it was determined that faded yellow lake glazes probably caused discoloration of the leaves in the lower left and smalt degradation probably caused discoloration of the man’s jacket.[2]

 

[1] Infrared reflectography was performed using a Kodak 310-21X Focal plane array PtSi camera.

[2] Cross-sections of the painting were analyzed by the NGA Scientific Research department using light microscopy as well as scanning electron microscopy in conjunction with energy-dispersive spectrometry (see report dated June 6, 1998, in NGA Conservation department files).

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