Hendrick Martensz Sorgh - Merry Peasants - image-1
Hendrick Martensz Sorgh - Merry Peasants - image-2
Hendrick Martensz Sorgh - Merry Peasants - image-1Hendrick Martensz Sorgh - Merry Peasants - image-2

Lot 2072 Dα

Hendrick Martensz Sorgh - Merry Peasants

Auction 1197 - overview Cologne
21.05.2022, 11:00 - Old Masters
Estimate: 80.000 € - 120.000 €
Result: 150.000 € (incl. premium)

Hendrick Martensz Sorgh

Merry Peasants

Oil on panel. 60 x 83.5 cm.
Signed lower left: HM Sorgh (HM conjoined).

This painting is a characteristic work by the Dutch genre painter Hendrick Maertensz. Sorgh, which can be counted among his finest interior scenes. It was painted in Rotterdam in the mid-1640s. At this time Sorgh specialised in peasant interiors under the influence of Adriaen Brouwer's pictorial inventions and the painting of his compatriots Cornelis and Herman Saftleven, who still lived in Rotterdam at the time. In her monograph, Liane Schneeman interpreted the theme as a representation of the Five Senses: the couple in love on the left side of the table symbolise touch, the violinist behind them symbolises hearing, the woman opposite feeding her child symbolises taste, the seated man in a red cap symbolises seeing, and the smoker sitting at the very back in front of a string of onions symbolises smell (Schneeman op. cit., pp. 102-3).
This painting was owned by the Dutch art collector and dealer Willem Lormier (1682-1758). For the visitors to his collection in The Hague, he published a catalogue of holdings in 1752, of which a copy with commentary has been preserved, giving precise information on purchases and sales (Korthals Altes op. cit., passim). Lormier acquired this painting in 1752 from the Amsterdam dealer David Ietswaart for 176 guilders. He sold it to the Russian prince Dmitri Alekseyevich Galitzin for 300 guilders in 1756. It is not known where it went after that, but Galitzin, who was later to become Russian ambassador to The Hague, bought artworks for Catherine the Great and also put together his own collection. In addition to the work by Sorgh, he also purchased two paintings by Isaac Koedijck, a Gerard Dou, two paintings by Adriaen van Ostade and a Gerard ter Borch from Lormier, paying 2,700 florins for the whole group, which left Lormier with a profit of 800 florins (Korthals Altes, op. cit., pp. 281-82). The present painting can be clearly identified from its description in Willem Lormier's reports, as the dimensions he gave are almost identical: 58 x 83 cm.
All traces of the painting are lost after 1756, and it first reappears listed among the collection of Major Mills in Hilborough in 1955. His collection was sold at auction in 1985 and included a number of Dutch works from the collection of his ancestor JR Mills, which originated in the 1850s.


With David Ietswaart, by whom sold by 1752 for 176 Guilders to Willem Lormier, The Hague, no. 278, (described in his accounts as Maarten Sorg boere geselschap). By whom sold on 10 November 1756, for 300 Guilders to Prince Dimitri Alekseyevich Galitzin (1734-1803). - Probably J.R. Mills (died 1879), and thence by descent. - Major J.C.T. Mills, Hilborough Hall, Thetford, Norfolk, by 1955. - Thence by inheritance to Mrs. Charles Mills. - Christie's, London, 13.12.1985, lot 72. - With Richard Green, London, 1986-88. - Private collection, Germany.


Catalogus van Schildereyen van den heer Agent Willem Lormier..., The Hague 1752, no. 278: 'Een Vrolyk boeren gezelschap, en een Vrouw die een Visketel over het vuur hangt, br. 2 v. 7, en een half d., h 1 v. 10 en een half d., P'[aneel]. - J.B. Descamps, La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandais, vol. 2, Paris 1754, pp. 325-6 ('Henri Rokes surnommé Zorg élevé de David Teniers: chez M. Lormier, une Assemblée de Paysans & une femme qui fait cuire du poisson dans une chaudiere'). - L.T. Schneeman, Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh: A Painter of Rotterdam. With Catalogue Raisonné, doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1982, pp. 102-3 and 201, no. 17, reproduced fig. 15 (as datable circa 1644-45). - E. Korthals Altes, "The Eighteenth-Century Gentleman Dealer Willem Lormier and the International Dispersal of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paintings", in Simiolus, vol. 28, no. 4, 2000-2001, pp. 282 and 310, no. 54, reproduced p. 282, fig. 34.