Overview

To his contemporaries, Jan van der Heyden was famous not only as a painter but also as an inventor and entrepreneur whose activities had a major impact on daily life in Amsterdam. In 1669 he devised a systematic plan for lighting the city’s quays and streets using more efficient oil lamps in pole-mounted lanterns. In 1672 Jan and his brother Nicolaes developed a vastly improved fire pump with leather hoses that produced a constant jet of water, and soon after he established a manufacturing plant for the production of fire engines, which made him a wealthy man.

As a painter Van der Heyden specialized in cityscapes and country mansions. His images of refined elegance and prosperity convey the importance that the status-conscious urban elite of the Dutch Republic attached to owning a country estate. Van der Heyden’s technique was so meticulous that it seems he delineated every course of brickwork on his buildings. Despite such a devotion to detail, many of his architectural scenes, including this work, are pure inventions. Van der Heyden did paint numerous country estates in Holland, but this marble mansion appears to be a product of the artist’s imagination. While the classical structure echoes the buildings of Palladio and the decorative sculptural elements also reveal Italian influences, the figures, which were probably painted by Adriaen van de Velde (1636–1672), are unmistakably Dutch. The great house with its sunlit formal gardens may evoke an idealized world, but at the elaborate gateway of the brick walls surrounding the gardens, an elegant gentleman encounters a beggar with her baby. Much of the painting’s appeal arises from the contrast between the easy informality of the figures and the restrained formality of the architectural setting.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Woltgraft family, Kampen.[1] Catellan family, Freiburg im Breisgau, before 1816; (sale, by Laneuville and Chariot, Paris, 16 January 1816, no. 6);[2] Maurice Rubichon for Charles-Ferdinand de Bourbon, duc de Berry [1778-1820], Paris;[3] by inheritance to his wife, Marie-Caroline-Ferdinande-Louise de Naples, duchesse de Berry [1798-1870], Paris; (De Berry exhibition and sale, Christie & Manson, London, April-June 1834, no. 112, apparently bought in);[4] (De Berry sale, by Bataillard and Charles Pillet, Paris, 4-6 April 1837, no. 72); Hazard.[5] Charles Heusch [c. 1775-1848], London, probably by 1838;[6] by inheritance to his son, Frederick Heusch [1809-1870], London; acquired 1855 with the entire Heusch collection by Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild [1808-1879], London;[7] by inheritance to his son, Alfred Charles de Rothschild [1842-1918], London and Halton House, near Wendover, Buckinghamshire; by inheritance to his nephew, Lionel Nathan de Rothschild [1882-1942], Exbury, Hampshire; by inheritance to his son, Edmund Leopold de Rothschild [1916-2009], Exbury; sold 1968 to (Thos. Agnew and Sons, Ltd., London); purchased 12 June 1968 by NGA.

Exhibition History

1838
Possibly British Institution, 1838, no. 91.
1886
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1886, no. 83, as View of a Château.
1952
Dutch Pictures, 1450-1750, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1952-1953, no. 469, as The Gate of a Palace.
1966
In the Light of Vermeer, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1966, no. 31, as Chateau in a Park.
1969
In Memoriam, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, unnumbered checklist.
2006
Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712), Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, Connecticut; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2006 -2007, no. 24, 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):396, no. 87.
1854
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss.. 3 vols. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. London, 1854: 2:256.
1857
Blanc, Charles. Le trésor de la curiosité. 2 vols. Paris, 1857–1858: 2(1858):135.
1884
Davis, Charles. A Description of the Works of Art Forming the Collection of Alfred de Rotchschild. 2 vols. London, 1884: 1: no. 34, repro.
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: 8(1923): 397, no. 227.
1969
"Recent Accessions." Apollo 89 (February 1969): 155, repro.
1971
Wagner, Helga. Jan van der Heyden 1637-1712. Amsterdam, 1971: 39, 61, 101, no. 151, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 174, repro.
1979
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Perspective and Its Role in the Evolution of Dutch Realism." In Perception and Pictorial Representation. Edited by Calvin F. Nodine and Dennis F. Fisher. New York, 1979: 113.
1981
Agnew, Geoffrey. A Dealer's Record. Agnew's 1967-1981. London, 1981: 9, 97, repro.
1984
Vries, Lyckle de. Jan van der Heyden. Amsterdam, 1984: 33-35, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 295, no. 387, color repro.
1984
Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Painting in the National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1984: 40-41, color repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 201, repro.
1987
Schama, Simon. The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. New York, 1987: 573, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 139, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 107-112, color repro. 109.
2003
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. Translated by Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake. Facsimile edition of London 1854. London, 2003: 2:256.
2006
Sutton, Peter C. Jan van der Heyden: (1637-1712). Exh. cat. Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. New Haven and London, 2006: 164-166, no. 24.

Conservation Notes

The support consists of a single piece of oak, with a horizontal grain.[1] The back of the panel bears the inscription van der heyden, undoubtedly by another hand at a later date. The wood is covered with a thin white ground. Infrared reflectography at 1.1 to 1.8 microns reveals broad rapid brushstrokes.[2] It is presumed that these correspond to the ground, since they are not visible in the paint layer. Infrared reflectography also shows a faint, precise drawing. No changes are evident in the drawing, but the ruled lines often extend past the architectural elements that they demarcate. The paint was applied fairly smoothly. It appears as though van der Heyden blocked in the colors and then applied the details wet-into-wet into each other on top of the dry base layer. Van der Heyden may have used a printmaking technique to create the brickwork. The paint does not bear any brushstrokes, nor do the lines taper, as strokes made with a brush typically do. In addition, the very fine lines in the architectural elements appear as though they were made with a ruling pen. Van der Heyden created the leaves in the trees by stippling. The figures were painted last, as evidenced by the fact that the brickwork extends under the figures.

In general, the painting is in fairly good condition. The panel has developed a moderate concave warp both along and across the grain. There are a number of fairly small cracks in the wood, including one about 10 centimeters long in the lower left corner, three smaller ones along the top edge, and another near the center of the bottom edge. In general, the edges of the panel have suffered minor damages, and the extreme top left corner is missing. Small losses of paint and ground associated with the damages to the support have occurred. There is extensive inpainting from past restorations throughout the sky. In some areas, particularly along the edges, these cover abrasion, wear, and small losses. In other areas, the retouching appears to be covering small horizontal, linear areas of abrasion along the raised parts of the woodgrain. Much of the retouching covers areas of original paint, and in the sky it is for the most part heavy, opaque, and discolored. Extensive strengthening has been carried out in certain areas, for example, in some of the clouds and in the balustrade. The surface of the painting is covered with a number of layers of aged, glossy varnish. No restoration on the painting has been undertaken since its acquisition.

 

[1] The wood was analyzed and determined to be oak by Dr. Peter Klein, Universität Hamburg. He performed dendrochronology on the panel and concluded that the earliest creation date for the painting is 1655 (see report dated February 17, 1987, in NGA Conservation department files).

[2]Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara focalplane array InSb camera fitted with H and K astronomy filters.

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