Attributed to Jan Stolker, (Dutch, 1724-1785), group of five oval portrait miniatures of 17th-century Dutch Golden Age masters, four...
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Attributed to Jan Stolker (Dutch, 1724-1785) group of five oval portrait miniatures of 17th-century Dutch Golden Age masters, fourth quarter 18th century grisailles on copper unsigned, including portraits of Lucas Leyden, Gerard Honthorst, Jan Utrich Meyer, Cornelis van Poelenburgh and one other, the Leyden portrait after Durer's is dated 1525, the Honthorst and van Poelenburg are inscribed in Latin "Se Ipse: Pinxt" and "Se Ipse: Del", respectively, and all five are inscribed with sitters' names, dates and inventory numbers en verso, some of which are indecipherable due to adhesive residue from having been previously backed with paper. Presented in matching antique brass frames. each 4-1/8" x 3-3/8" Provenance: Private collection, Houston, Texas. Literature: Eijnden, R. van and A. van der Willigen. Geschiedenis der Vaderlandsche Schilderkunst. Amsterdam, 1816, II, pp. 183 and 185; Nagler, G.K. Neues Allgemeines Kunstler Lexicon. Leipzig, 1847, XVII, p. 398F. Notes: Jan Stolker, a prominent printmaker, painter, dealer and art collector, is best known for his copies of 17th-century Dutch artists. He studied under Jan Maurits Quinkhard, and was a member of the Confrerie Pictura and the Rotterdam Guild of Saint Luke. His series of grisaille portrait miniatures was influenced by his predecessors. Though usually credited to Arnoud van Halen, who painted in 1712 a series of portraits of Dutch poets, the inspiration equally came from Karel van Mander's 1604 Dutch version of Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists that chronicled the biographies of 15th- and 16th-century Dutch artists and Cornelis de Bies' 1662 expanded compendium that included 17th-century Dutch artists. Two of the portraits offered here, those of Honthorst and van Poelenburgh, were copied after engravings published in de Bies' book, and Stolker owned copies of both texts at the time of his death, according to Appendix 3, "Excerpts from Dutch Book Sales Catalogues from the Estates of Painters (1667-1792)", published in M.J.N. Stols-Witlox book Historical Recipes for Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings in Manuals… One hundred fifty-five grisaille miniatures, that resemble these in size and execution, were offered at the sale of the artist's studio in Rotterdam on March 27, 1786, and were identified by inked inventory numbers on their backs, as only one of the miniatures was signed "Stolker". The collection (cabinet) did not sell and remained with Stolker's descendants. In 1853, the collection was sold as part of the Frederik Mueller Collection in Amsterdam as lot 1781 for 800 flourins. The catalogue entry did not list the names of the portraits, but described them as a "Cabinet" with the "old high Dutch painters and paintings, in pleasing grayish color on oval round copper plates, high 4 inches, wide 3 inches, with many portrayals of painters and poets from prints". According to Michele N. Benisovich's "Notes sur Jan Stolker" (1946), the portraits were dispersed nearly a century later in the 1940s in New York City. A group of twenty sold at Christie's, Amsterdam, November 10, 1997 as lot 153 for $29,412, and another eight sold at Christie's New York, June 7, 2002 as lot 121 for $11,353. This group of five, according to extant art database results, is the largest number to be offered at auction since the aforementioned sales at Christie's. References: De Bies, Cornelius. Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const (The Golden Cabinet of the Noble Liberal Art of Painting). Jan Meyssen: Antwerp, 1662; Stols-Witlox, M.J.N. Historical Recipes for Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings in Manuals, Manuscripts and Handbooks in North West Europe, 1550-1900. Diss. University of Amsterdam, 2014. Web. 25 June 2017; Benisovich, Michel N. "Notes sur Jan Stolker (1724-1785)". Oud Holland. 61 (1946), pp. 185-196. Mueller, Frederik Beschrijvende catalogus van 7000 portretten, van Nederlanders, en van buitenlanders, tot Nederland in betrekking staande… Amsterdam, 1853, pp. 37-38.
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