Philips Wouwerman - Man with a White Horse in a Grotto
Man with a White Horse in a Grotto
Oil on panel. 13 x 18.5 cm.
Monogrammed lower right: PHLW (PHL conjoined).
With several red varnish seals on the back of the panel and a hand-written label that reads, “Man & Horse / by / Wouwermanns”, as well as a cutting from an auction or inventory catalogue, “A small picture of a Man and Horse..Wouwermans…. / A specimen of his best manner.“ with hand-written annotations “Smith Graves [crossed through] No. 497“.
This small-format work, which Nicolaas Verkolje (1673-1746) reproduced in a mezzotint (ill. 1), depicts one of Philips Wouwerman's most characteristic motifs: A white (grey) horse. The Haarlem based painter, who already enjoyed considerable renown during his lifetime, was able to capture the features and character of horses in a precise and life-like manner like no other artist. In this work, he depicts his favourite subject in the act of urinating - a magnificent example of the love of vulgar scenes shared by many Dutch artists, and at the same time proof of the influence of the Bamboccianti on the young Wouvermann. Dr. Birgit Schumacher, who we would like to thank for her kind support in cataloguing this lot, has dated our painting it in her catalogue raisonné to shortly after 1646/1647 and thus in the artist's early phase, and has now described it as "a small, early treasure".
Salomon Lilian, Amsterdam. – German private collection.
John Smith: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters, 8 vols., London 1829-42, vol. 1, London 1829, p. 348, no. 497. - Cornelis Hofstede de Groot: Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII Jahrhunderts, 10 vols., Esslingen and Paris, 1910-28, vol. 2, Esslingen and Paris 1908, p. 363, no. 394. - Birgit Schumacher: Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668). The Horse Painter of the Golden Age. 2 vols., Doornspijk 2006, vol. 1, p. 307, no. A341.