Philips Wouwerman - A horse stable with travellers
A horse stable with travellers
Oil on panel. 29.5 x 38 cm.
Monogrammed lower right: PW (conjoined).
Philips Wouwerman was one of the most diverse and productive artists of the Golden Age of Dutch Art. His paintings were already in great demand throughout Europe during his lifetime, but became especially popular in the 18th century. The extensive collections of Wouwerman paintings in the former princely art collections, for example in the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg or the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, still bear witness to this today.
Hinrich Bischoff also had a special preference for this painter. He probably acquired more works by Wouwerman throughout his time as a collector than by any other artist. Several of those paintings have been sold through Lempertz in recent years. The three works offered in this sale were created in the 1660s, the last decade of the painter's life.
Philips Wouwerman was born in Haarlem and, except for a short stay in Hamburg, he probably never left his home town. He became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in Haarlem in 1640, and died here in 1668. He married Anna Pietersz. van Broeckhoff at an early age, and she survived him by only two years. Wouwerman left behind a considerable legacy, mainly owing to the great success of his paintings.
Wouwerman's works have always been sought after for their exquisite quality. Apart from the astoundingly high level of their craftsmanship and technique, they manage to touch and inspire us above all through the deep humanity of the atmospheric scenes depicted, in which humans and their multifaceted relationship to animals is captured as realistically as it is poetically. Although the horse is always omnipresent in his oeuvre, to call Wouwerman a pure horse painter does not do justice to his works.
It is nonetheless worthwhile to take a closer look at the depictions of horses in Wouwerman's works. They depict the most popular and common breeds in the Netherlands in the 17th century, for example the Lipizzan horse with its Andalusian and Neapolitan pedigree. It is a rather small animal that was preferred by soldiers and as a dressage horse until about 1660. The Bohemian-Austrian Kladrub breed and the Frisian-Zeelandic breed of Dutch draught and work horses are also frequently depicted. From the mid-1650s onwards, the elegant Spanish horse with its tall stature, narrow head and long mane increasingly displaced the Kladrub breed, which had been preferred until then as a dressage and riding horse. Spanish horses thus appeared with corresponding frequency within Wouwerman's elegant compositions after 1660. The painter closely followed the preferences of the horse lovers of his time. In Europe, white was the preferred colour for horses throughout the entire 17th century and accordingly, there are only very few paintings by Wouwerman in which a white horse does not appear.
The Barons van der Houven;
1710 acquired in Antwerp with another painting by Wouwerman by Raschke on behalf of August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Dresden;
Thence by descent at Dresden in the Saxon Royal collection (inv. no. A 506);
Given to the House of Wettin in 1924;
Anonymous sale, Fischer, Lucerne, 17-18 June 1977, lot 396;
Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, London, 10 April 1986, lot 139;
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 24 May 1991, lot 10;
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, 15 April 1992, lot 121;
With Johnny van Haeften, London.
Cornelis Hofstede de Groot: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, vol. II, London 1909, p. 397, no. 485;
Karl Woermann: Katalog der Königliche Gemäldegalerie zu Dresden, Dresden 1905, no. 1460;
Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker: Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 36, Leipzig 1947, p. 266;
Birgit Schumacher: Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668). The Horse Painter of the Golden Age, Doornspijk 2006, vol. 1, p. 204, no. A91, reproduced vol. 2, plate 87.