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After  100  Years  back  on  the  Market

the

Aert  van  der  Neer

of  the

Collections  Maas – Fürstenberg (?) – Zingel

Neer, Aert van der (Gorinchem 1604 – Amsterdam 1677).

River  Landscape  by  Moonlight .

Seen from rather high point with the river coming from front left and tapering off in a right angle widely into the distance accompanied by banks on both sides. Above it standing quite high the full moon with halo, with its light being reflected in the ending water before the dark strip of land running across through the front, interspersed with both isolated and tufted reed and iris repoussoir. Numerous fishing boats losing themselves in the distance, mostly under sail, and boats, four of the latter of which big in the foreground just as, too, a rigged up twomaster – if not two single-masted crafts lying closely side by side, see below – behind the spit of the dominantly raised left bank to which

– as key to the authenticity –

Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight / Detail Documentation for Authorship

four  wide  steps  lead  up  stoop-like

– see hereto below – and whose mighty trees towering over three thatched cottages/huts of different size, fresh and dense in leaf and united at the top in an arch, occupy about the full height of the painting. Before the cottages man with stick, accompanied by his dog, rambling to the left, while a woman with a dish is about to enter the widely situated frontmost hut, and a fisherman with hook and tackle thrown over, walking into the picture, makes for the fence above the said twomaster over which more lies for drying.

On the flat right bank with its spits likewise set back a property as well as vista of a presumed place. As repoussoir here especially in front a modestly higher tree besides lateral high trunk broken by the winds and about dead. Rich figuration of any size spread over the whole picture on land and in the boats, partly pertinently occupied, so the fisherman in the boat right in front right with his weirs. The moon’s halo predicting shitty weather could have its counterpart in the fisherman in the front center sitting before his boat shitting into the water, at which he looks out of the picture. See hereto below.

The dominance of  one  of  the  two  banks  observed in such a manner is a general scheme of composition by van der Neer for which Wolfgang Schulz on occasion of the winter landscapes remarks:

“ Compositionally Aert van der Neer continues the practice of emphasising one side of the river … (and) changed very little: A perspectivally narrowing expanse of ice is flanked on both sides by buildup banks of which one is emphasised and the other may open up or be buttressed by a framing tree ” (see below, pp. 86 f.).

Oil on oak panel. 18 × 24⅞-25 in (45.6 × 63.2-63.4 cm). In refreshed handmade frame of supposedly about 1920.

Dendrochronological certificate

Prof. Dr. Peter Klein

(Hamburg University, Zentrum Holzwirtschaft [Wood Sciences]) of July 13, 2006

“Three-part oak wood panel … region Western Germany/Netherlands”.

With 115, 146 + 153 heartwood annual rings plus sapwood years
“results an earliest date of cutting … from 1671 onwards …
An earliest creation of the painting
would be conceivable from 1673 onwards”.

In greater detail furthermore below.

Provenance

Collection Otto Wilhelm Maas, Frankfurt/Main

possibly sale Frankfort/Main, “In the Senckenberg Foundation House”, October 1 ff., 1788
(Getty Provenance Index® Databases, J. Paul Getty Trust, 1994-2004 <www.getty.edu>,
here Sales Cat. D-183). – See furthermore below

Anonymous art trade/sale

(certainly before 1816 , see below)
no. 261

Davis Collection?

its sale London, Forster, Apr. 17, 1818, no. 149
as pendant to a “View of a Canal by Moonlight” not described in greater detail.
Alternatively, but thematically less probable, a “Shipping in Moonlight”,
in each case van der Neers, of the

Adams Collection?

its sale, same place, Apr. 23, 1818, no. 149

For Davis as Adams see Schulz pp. 315 f.
within his listing without numbering of not identifiable works from 1694-1850

One “149” of 2 x 4 cm in somewhat broader pencil
on the back upper right

Sale Count Fürstenberg, Bonn, and others

Cologne, Heberle, August 6, 1877 (Lugt 37639), no. 85

Collection H. W. Zingel, Wiesbaden

its sale Frankfort/Main, Bangel, April 20, 1909 (Lugt 67465), no. 175

Werner Zabel

(Prof. Dr. Werner Zabel, 1894-1978, ?)
On the back by supposedly carpenter’s pencil “Werner Zabel / Aert van der Neer”

Four  of  this  provenance  sequence  documenting  the  last  200  years

as  a  rare , downright  luxuriant , result  of  the  usually  neglected

“ backside ”

of paintings, on the diagnostic value of which only recently various exhibitions were devoted to. So 2006/07 with (Change of Ends – The Backs of Paintings and their Secrets) by the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum Aix-la-Chapelle as source of the quotations here along with references to predecessors in Siegen (1994) & Hamburg (2005).

“ One could well characterize the back of a painting as its archive, for it is often pasted with labels and other scraps of paper … Also frequently numbers were painted onto the back … which permit to retrace the descent or provenance of the painting … In this the fact, that the back is inseparably joined with the painted picture, is of great interest …

For  the  question  of  the  provenance  of  paintings  and their collection history resulting from that

the backsides are central sources and frequently the only possibility

to establish the descent. Even with the museum-owned collections a complete reconstruction is difficult …

Whereas (on the example of a specific exhibit) the badly torn off label … with the … number 259 written down … is more informative. (Said) painting was bought … at auction in Cologne December 17, 1897 under the number 259. The number written down refers to this lot ”

(op. cit., pages 4 f., 7, 10, 40 & 53).

Literature

Cornelis Hofstede de Groot

Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke
der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts,

vol. VII (1918), no. 421 (“[Landscape by Moonlight with a Canal]”)

Wolfgang Schulz

Aert van der Neer (2002), no. 778

(“Canal Landscape by Moonlight with Boats / whereabouts unknown”)

Both without examination of the original or an illustration,
but on the latter see below.

(“ [The principle question now rises how one should deal with such paintings mentioned in literature only … for one can certainly assume that among the paintings mentioned in sales catalogs only and now lost there exists a considerable percentage of genuine works of art … Only in the cases where a painting listed in catalogs has come to my knowledge as not genuine for certain I have dropped it without further ado] ” [HdG])

Fredo Bachmann

Aert van der Neer, 1603/04-1677 (1982)

Die Herkunft der Frühwerke des Aert van der Neer

in Oud Holland LXXXIX (1975), 213 ff.

Aert van der Neer als Zeichner (1972)

On three horizontal elements of 13.9 , 15.2 + 16.5 cm, the outside edges originally beveled in a width of 3-7 cm for up to 5-6 mm. – On the back old German catalog clipping as following:

“( Aart van der Neer,

b. at Amsterdam 1610; † there 1683.

261  Landscape  by  Moonlight.

The center of the painting is occupied by a wide river busy with boats and fishing boats, on which the moon casts its light; on the banks on both sides one notices places and isolated houses, partly hidden between high trees.
Richly composed picture, in the manner of the master, executed splendidly.
It  originates  from  the  Maas  Collection  in  Frankfurt (see below).
Panel. Height 36

(sic! ‘The oldest catalogs have complete descriptions only exceptionally and still these days the business of the largest auction house of the world seems to not allow that passably sufficient descriptions of the paintings coming up for sale with it are included with the catalogs. Unfortunately [they] … are not just incomplete, all too often they are even inaccurate. How often it happens that the  paintings  are  measured  badly …’, HdG)

, width 63 Cent.) ”

Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight / Back

The originally full format of the sticker crumbling off at the edges clearly recognizable in the panel.

Furthermore with broad wax or chalk pen large from upper left diagonally down to the center “261” as the number of the label, the last figure partially overwritten by Zabel’s notice of possession.

Collection Maas refers to the hospital master Otto Wilhelm Maas there from whose property, according to Getty Provenance Index Sales with “Schmidt 1960” as source, 21 oils were sold in an anonymous sale “In the Senckenberg Foundation House” October 1 ff., 1788. If the present one was among these is undecided as contrary to the printed previous lots the stock appears in the auctioneer’s copy of the catalog only globally “added in writing”, with the remark “given by hospital master Maas”. It might have been an on the spot admission in a predicament. At the same time Maas appeared as the purchaser of a moonlight landscape by van der Neer not corresponding with the size of present one here.

While the importance of the Maas Collection already shows from the quantity of his admission, so also by ranking among the purchasers expressly worth mentioning for Schmidt.

The 164 lots of the printed stock “Probably (refer to) the collection of the merchant Johann Heinrich Mettenius (1710-1770) for in the copy SMF the reference is noted: ‘Mettenius oil paintings’ … The collection almost exclusively consists of works of the Dutch and Flemish school of the 17th and 18th centuries”.

The chronological ranging of the anonymous sale following Maas and proven by the “sticker 261” is first suggested by the incorrect living dates of the label, quoting as year of death the knowledge of de Burtin (1808), as then 1841 also taken over by Nagler who assumes for the birth the time between 1613 + 1619, however. With Burtin 1619 as fixed date. And with respect to the place of birth some “let him having been born at Amsterdam”, so Nagler, but at the same time referring to van Eynden who already in 1816 correctly names Gorinchem (see Schulz p. 93). Coming very close to the knowledge of before 1816 and therefore the statement of the label, too, the 1792 biographic sheet to the Apostool aquatint of Schulz 580 (color plate 44 + ills. 205): “BORN at Amsterdam 1609, and died 1683”.

Backed by 1788 the said follow-up sale whose sticker explicitly refers to Maas only, but not also to Fürstenberg etc., should in such a manner appear as certainly “before 1816” as with respect of the living dates just representing the knowledge of Burtin. The conclusion of the oil originating from the 1788 sale seems plausible.

Just for completeness it should be additionally noted that already about 1900 with “1603” literature (Bredius, Philippi, Wurzbach) deviated from today’s knowledge of life + place most marginally only anymore.

The difficulty of establishing the dates of living shortly touched by Nagler and discussed in detail by von Wurzbach (1906/11) regarding a presumed and likewise painting namesake who in 1685 moved from Amsterdam to Gouda and shall still have lived in Rotterdam in 1691 concerns the grandson Aert II, the son of Eglon van der Neer. Only by Wolfgang Schulz the birth of Aert I has been proven definitely as 1604.

The “and others” of the Fürstenberg sale concern the bequests of general von Graeve, Coblenz, and judge Dr. Christian Widenmann.

Atmospheric  picture ,

in  composition  as  colors  with  all  marks

of  van  der  Neer’s  moonlight  paintings ,

the latter outlined as follows by Bachmann as the pioneer of the real van der Neer research with whom also Schulz widely concurs invariably :

“ Except for the painting of 1649 in Prague the last quarter of the ’40s remains without any datings. We suppose that in this span of time besides marvelous evening landscapes those night pieces have been created …

whose  lateral  trees  rise  up  to  the  top  edge  of  the  painting

(until about the middle of the century, generally the high trees as originating from Coninxloo, B. [1975], pp. 220 + 214) … Then in the ’50s all recollections of the spatial alley (of the water) fade.

A  wide  river  pasture

takes their place … the perspective slants … only begin close to the background. That was the great form of the Van der Neer composition. The artist had given a new, compelling content to an out-of-age design and intensified the relation between picture and beholder.

The  landscapes  of  this  kind  have  constituted  his  fame .

In his final years under the influence of fashion demands, however, the characteristic composition fell into decay. From the peculiarity of the composition peculiar consequences result …

The  sudden  turning  of  the  river  water

to one or to both sides is annoying since the natural course of the terrain is impaired.

The  river  then  reaches  the  front  edge  of  the  picture  at  no  place .

There lies, disconnected with the middle distance, a dark strip of bank blocking the direction of the river in a right angle … (see on this, however, p. 133 ad HdG 312/Sch. 1122 as “supposedly still created in the ’50s”, “… an older composition with the river turning in the middle distance is taken up again and modified”) …

Besides his night skies are fine … The vicinity of the moon makes the rims around the dark center of the cloud shine (with present one Schulz 778 in the light grey of the clouds already an idea of the red later on becoming dominant, see also on this B., 1982, p. 133 ad HdG 312/Sch. 1122, but also p. 106, para. 3) … The light is the center in the work of van der Neer. Generally seen in the ’40s it was about the spatial opening, in the ’50s it was about the light. The light reached an unthought-of bearing in the Dutch painting of the 17th century … A. van der Neer has painted the light itself, its source, its cause …

Of  especial  beauty  are  the  light  rims

the back light makes shine at the clouds and at the things in the foreground,

( at  trees , trunks  or  their  branches  for  instance )

… Van der Neer uses an artifice, a special perspective of light whenever on the analogy of artificial light he lets the moonlight getting ever brighter towards the source of light, so that the favored distance attracts the look … So van der Neer’s light not only originates in the moon or the evening sun, but also from Antwerp (that is Rubens) …

The earth warmed up by the heat of the day is represented by a warm, the atmosphere by a cool tone … olive on the trees … The reddish brown stands against the cool colors of the sky … There are red and reddish-brown evening landscapes … Then the glazes with the loan colors follow … and then the whitish moonlight … But the rare night pieces of the ’40s still suffered from the oppressive darkness … Only by the middle of the century … his interest turned to … especially the colors … He succeeded

in  producing  the  illusion  of  the  darkness  by  colors ,

the  night  pieces  became  lighter  and  more  friendly

… the people … often walked … into the picture (so then here almost inclusive of even the marginal little figures without exception back views – except for one, the shitting fisherman, though squatting laterally, but frontally looking out of the picture, see hereto below) … (And)

with  delicacy  and  great  skill

he  has  inserted  the  accessories  in  his  paintings  himself ”

(Bachmann [1982], pp. 66, 78, 85 f., 88, 95, 97, 104, 124).

And Hofstede de Groot resumes :

“ The thematic field of van der Neer is, with few exceptions, limited to two clearly separated models:

moonlight  paintings  and  winter  landscapes .

Besides blazes either at night or in winter … Almost always a water, only rarely a broad path,

confined  on  both  sides  by  buildings  between  trees

extends  into  the  depth  of  the  picture .

With the night scenes it is almost always the rather low full moon that … conjures reflections on the water and the windows of the buildings.

The  late  evening  hours  of  autumn  and  spring  are  depicted

when  man  still  works  outside ,

as  long  as  darkness  has  not  fallen  fully …

The thematic field described here is commanded by v. d. Neer as by no one else.

He  is  the  best  moonlight  painter  of  the  Dutch  school …

Of the moonlit nights and the twilight paintings usually those are the best on which happen to be the least accessories. As the colors disappear, the contours become blurred, the accessories have a slightly fidgety effect. More than humans the silhouettes of ships, drawbridges, windmills, and peaked roofed houses, nay, the outlines of cows and horses, trunks, fences, racks with nets and the like which the artist likes to apply in the foreground of his paintings satisfy us. Also by

the  reflections  of  the  light  on  the  water

… and on all that reflects light at all … he imparts on his creations a special charm ”

(op. cit., pp. 360 ff.).

“ ([Wherein] the guidance into the space … not [happens] by continuous approximation as with a village street of Goyen or S. Ruysdael, but in approximation to the line of the horizon Neer splits the previous diagonal alley into many narrow, horizontal stripes whose silhouette is worked exactly and pointedly as in miniatures. A picket fence, poles with nets, trees, sails, and the like form these contours which happen with Neer in singular delicacy) ”

(Willi Drost, 1926, quoted after Schulz, op. cit., p. 103).

This  all  then

characteristics  of  the  present  painting , too ,

which in its style corresponds to the late ’40s, early ’50s when Neer had achieved his full maturity (Schulz pp. 108 f. + 51), though with respect to the genesis of its panel is suitable only for those final years when the master practically copied himself and revived previous stylistic elements as generally thought for the late period when additionally a new artist generation served a changed taste.

“ He went back to earlier achievements and began imitating himself. Though still successful in the expression of moods and the application of striking colour effects, his paintings are less sensitive; brush strokes are coarser, lacking the delicate touch of earlier works. Examples of this can be found in a series of river landscapes by moonlight of the second half of the sixties ”

(Schulz, op. cit., p. 59). And Bachmann (1982), p. 125:

“ The old pattern was repeated with frequently little variation only and executed rapidly to meet need. Bode says after the economic failure (the wine-tavern, 1662) the artist were forced to work from the acquired treasure of his imaginations for sale. ”

Such deficiency then had Mrs. Hümer-Roskamp, restorer for Old Masters of the Hamburg Art Gallery, to deny the hand of van der Neer for present work, missing the colors’ running into one another, the transparency triumphing with the chief works. Yet always having in mind but one of this kind of the own house while there are quite a number of the master’s paintings. To the assessment here involuntarily neglecting the facts of the late period claimed already by Stechow (Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century, 2nd ed., 1968, pp. 94 f.) for a “considerable group” of undoubtedly authentic winter landscapes. A neglect by no means foreign here in case of e.g. presented uncertain Ridingers which then are measured all to readily against the final oils of the Hermitage worked for the court of the czars.

Really the statement made just already a generation ago counts, after which

“ (The view, one might be able to come to know an artist in his entirety by sensitive immersing in only some masterpieces, nowadays loses more and more terrain) ”

(H. R. Hoetink, director of The Hague Mauritshuis [Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen] authoritative for the old Netherlanders, refusing as no longer satisfying also Max Friedländer’s relatively contrary opinion, in the catalog of the 1974 Ter Borch exposition there, p. 12).

Correspondingly more differentiatedly Wolfgang Schulz complimented then also present work per letter of June 13, 2005 with the words:

“ Unfortunately it was not possible to see the painting (offered for sale elsewhere) myself, the autopsy thus has yet to come. Therefore I may uphold my provisional considerations against a final assumption of an authorship of Aert van der Neer. Anyhow it looks to me – now also supported by your good photos – to be with great likelihood a work from the 17th century, what in the case of Aert van der Neer – one of the most copied and faked painters of the Dutch 17th century – is by no means self-evident. ”

On the latter Bachmann (1982), p. 125:

“ Already from the 17th century we have reports on copies after paintings of van der Neer (as obviously to be excluded here, see below); the great time of fakes then were the 18th and 19th centuries. In this connection it mostly was about one special kind of landscapes by moonlight. ”

And, so Schulz, op. cit., page 55:

“ Undoubtedly it is difficult to separate genuine works from those done by other artists of the seventeenth century in the same style. Besides imitations by the artist’s son, Johannes van der Neer (as deceased already 1665 here not eligible), and those by Anthonie van Borssom (1629-1677, in the present case explicitly excluded by Schulz), some of which come close to what we now would identify as fakes, we must consider the works of Gillis van Scheyndel (1635-1678). ”

And apart from that, so p. 86:

“ Differences in quality of execution in the works by Aert van der Neer sometimes originate with the master himself and are not always the result of poor restoration (as not applicable here besides) ”.

The autopsy of the painting made good by Wolfgang Schulz left it at the opinion with the photos. The tree elements for instance, viewed on their own, would really convince, not the main ship though, neither would the nature of the back of the panel indicate van der Neer, yet the knowledge about a priming with reddish-beige ground as one precondition for authorship would be helpful as such is brought to light during restoring. That the white rims of light at the trees front left were painted and not scratched as normally done by him could be ignored and, so the opinion here, emanate from assumed waning care in the late period. Does it not appear conceivable that also the painting-boards of the final years bearing the marks of economical need differ from the gross of former times? See hereto below, too, on the occasion of the discussion of the effected dendrochronological examination. For the obviously still open workgroup of the actual final years an interesting task based upon just dendrochronological results should here still wait for us.

Otherwise, so Wolfgang Schulz further, the condition of the painting itself were perfect, for an ascription to a contemporary hand it could be thought of the rare Hendrik Minderhout (Rotterdam 1632 – Antwerp 1696) whose however more definite marines as parallels to those of the late van der Neer already the monograph mentions (op. cit., p. 59). But also the quite painterly executed drawn Night Landscape at Meder, Handzeichnung, 1919, pp. 492 f. is of a different character. – In the said 1788 Frankfort sale by the way “A Moonlight in the style of van der Neer” (c. 40.6 x 50 cm) figured as done by Roelof van Vries (Haarlem c. 1631 – after 1681; no. 90 of the cat. D-183).

After on occasion of a later removal of the painting from the frame the edges of the panels showed more or less all around traces of ground in beige with a touch of red, as already perceptible for the moon-clouds-part of the painting itself, as a result of flat position of the panels during grounding – see Hubertus von Sonnenburg’s “Remarks on Brouwer’s Technique of Painting” in the 1986 Munich exhibition catalog, p. 104 – the Doerner Institute of the Bavarian Staatsgemäldesammlungen was asked if in the absence of a necessity of restoring a possible grounding could be proven by means of infrared reflectography or X-ray photograph. The one as the other, so the result, would be little promising with light ground, as here, the technique would have to pass in such cases.

By which the old analysis by comparison was inaugurated anew. While already the shitting man, looking downright offensively at the beholder and admittedly rare – in the plate part of Schulz  so  without equals indeed, but among the authentic ones nevertheless represented here and there and more decently – , defended his position against Wolfgang Schulz by Fredo Bachmann’s arguing for the late work:

“ Formerly the accessories left a rather modest impression with van der Neer …

Now , however , the  anecdotal  comes  to  the  fore ,

Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight / Anekdotal Detail

we are in the late period of Dutch painting ”

(Bachmann, 1982, p. 124, and p. 142 on occasion of a late winter painting about 1670: “Some … accessory figures … oddly enough look out of the picture [just as the shitting fisherman here, too, and] just as it was the case in the [authentic] winter painting in Bremen [of the late ’60s, Schulz 11]”), so during cataloging of the painting as finally considered work by a contemporary anonymous a decisive turn emerged. In favor of the master himself. Concerning an eye-catching fine detail whose lacking occurrence this way among the more than 300 oil reproductions of the Schulz monograph was closely noticed here as probably indication for another hand :

the  optically  stoop-like  formed  planks

as adequate ascent to the left bank whose downright plateau-like spaciousness in exemplary illustration of van der Neer’s compositional arrangement, see at the beginning, has its counterpart in the space-reaching plain right one. Wherever here and there the reproductions of the oils show scenic ascents they are, thus with intentional disregard of architecturally composed stone ascents of Schulz 84 + 362 (both authentic) as well as 129 (presumably authentic) with illustrations 45, 74 + 32, optically unpretentious stairs. But in the

drawn

canal  landscape  by  moonlight  in  Berlin

– Schulz D 2, ills. 343; Bachmann (1972) I, ills. I and (1982), p. 46, ills. 31 resp. – we encounter them again this way! At the same place of the, however, different design of the left bank! And just with one step more. By this, however, in cases of doubt a

classic  indication

for  an  assignment  of  authorship .

That that drawing from about the middle of the ’40s is not just any, rather – together with the “Landscape with the Angler” in Petersburg, Schulz D 10, ills. 342; Bachmann, 1972, II and, 1982 resp., p. 49 with illustrations II and 36 resp. – one of the two Bachmann (1972, p. 13) regards as representative for the whole work

– “ Both the two sheets have to be understood as working studies on the A. v. d. Neer composition in the first place, they ‘prepare the ground’ … The immediacy of the writing, the correspondence with other sheets and with the composition implemented in many paintings show that I and II are from the studio of Aert van der Neer ” –

imparts additional weight on assumed detail correspondence. Remarkable how here in the recourse of the age a solution of large scale found thirty years before and then again neglected finds a resumption that goes beyond a copying of oneself.

Less exciting, but nevertheless additionally expressly noteworthy the posture of the man with the possibly led dog to his right wandering alone to the left above of the stoop as so not present among the plates in Schulz. Both are indeed throughout provable in authentic works, but not in this posture. Optically however drawing on at first glance with stick in the left and possibly led dog to his right the wanderer in Jacob von Ruisdael’s Landscape with a Windmill Near a Town Moat (Slive, Ruisdael Exhibition Catalog 2005/06, no. 13) of the early 1650s whose divergent posture slightly bent forward should be due to the little comfortable path across the water. Van der Neer could have seen the picture at his colleague’s living in Amsterdam, too. Both wanderers giving the impression of carefree nature. What corresponds with the generous stepping at van der Neer.

But also

the  geometrical  composition  scheme

of  the  present  painting

is  that  of  van  der  Neer’s .

The moon as the source of the light corresponds with the intersection of two curves connecting salient positions. And in the horizontal left & right reference points are on the same level. So the foot of the trunk of the topped willow lower left is in harmony with the spit of the right boat, the elevation left of the stairs with the foot of the outer tree right, the ridge of the right house on the left with the end of thicket on the right edge. See the diagram here analogous to those of Bachmann, 1982, p. 81.

“ The symmetry propagates the impression of tranquility and solemnity, what especially in the moonlight nights contributes to the atmosphere ”

and occasionally of the authentic Blaze in Schwerin Schulz 1376, ills. 234, originating from the late ’60s

“ Still van der Neer proves himself as master of composition … two horizontals determine the ordered pictorial space … the two banks of the river ”

(Bachmann, 1982, pp. 79 + 142 with ills. 119). And pages 144 f.:

“ Basically he was a conservative man … and many a thing that interested him, also just old-fashioned ones, he kept until the late years, for instance – as in the case here, too – the central-perspective representation of the distance, the confining trees on the sides …

On the other hand the artist strove for his characteristic image form without prejudice and has realized his personal image idea. Only his serious observation of nature could animate the fixed composition, and only his artistic power could spiritualize the landscape.

In doing so he has experimented thrillingly modern with the representation of light and the colors … until he had found his unmistakable form. ”

To some degree present oil reminds of the canal landscape in Darmstadt (GK-265; HdG 184, Sch. 319 with ills. 102, regarded by Bachmann as of 1647 the latest), but also of the river landscape assumed as about 1645 Schulz 1286 with ills. 135, which both are regarded as authentic, but still are markedly far from the spacious water landscape opening to the horizon and the moonlight as central dominant factor. So the painting of 1645 shows the full moon indeed, and that on about the same height as on the one here and as not the rule as usually standing lower, but in the right quarter of the image only while on the painting of 1647 it stands in the center indeed, but hidden behind trees (Schulz: “Probably one of the first nocturnal scenes; as yet no bright moonlight”).

The foliage of especially the main trees on the left partly executed with little refinement as proven else among the authentic oils, too, just as also for the already called in one in Darmstadt of 1647 Schulz 319 or Sch. 248 (ills. 109) in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the one in Rotterdam Sch. 480 (ills. 111), the round trees of the middle distance of Sch. 1288 (about 1645, color frontispiece), Sch. 426 (color plate 50) of the Getty Museum of 1647 (HdG: 1643).

The light points distributed over the whole foliage of these left-side chief trees we encounter as example for daylight likewise with the above Sch. 1288 or as moonlight painting with Sch. 1297 (authentic, ills. 139) while the topped willow cripple front left of the present painting with its fine rims of light salutes as authentic from the 1646/48 painting in Jerusalem (Sch. 377, ills. 122) or the one of the late ’40s in Munich (Sch. 438, ills. 168), in both cases from the same place and equally blessed by the light, but is also found i. a., though in reverse and centered, in the authentic winter painting Sch. 215 (about 1660; color plate 7).

The about-dead vanity trunk far right in the painting corresponds in its growth with the left-side one of Sch. 1098 (ills. 154), stated as about 1645 and intensified in its message by two trunks lying on the ground, for which still life-like arrangement Bachmann reclaims a recollection of Savery (Oud Holland LXXXIX, p. 219 with ills. 4).

The himself likewise vanity-laden shitting man joined by the crouching man at the weir in the center of the painting Sch. 215 already introduced above as well as by that one at the topped willow right outside of the authentic winter painting Sch. 29 (supposedly also mid-’60s; color plate 11) of the National Gallery, London, whose kolf-club might lie in front of him. Less clear, then turned to the beholder though, the man sitting by the boat right of the winter painting Sch. 229 (without explicit note of authenticity, but sold in 2000 at 277.500 $; color plate 8) like that one right outside at the fishing boats of the 1645 moonlight painting Sch. 1286 (ills. 135) already mentioned above else, he, too, then looking at the beholder and with a stick beside him.

The obviously rare halo of the moon also shown by the authentic coastal landscape Sch. 675 (color plate 41) while for the setting sun of the canal landscape in the Städel at Frankfort/Main, HdG 33 (“authentic”) and Schulz 337 (“possibly authentic”) resp. Bachmann (1982, p. 138 with ills. 113) draws the attention to the impasto white as here with respect to the moon and its reflections on the water in the foreground.

The optical twomaster in the center field, a smalschip with sprit sails and well recognizable leeboard, also could prove to be two single-masted crafts, even more so as the left-side sail rises behind the front one. Then more essential, however, that the front one has been tanned, a costly procedure, the back one apparently not. What would contradict the observed vanity in small communities as indicating it was not enough for the second sail, not least as both show in good condition. It would rather be an either/or. Anyhow it might be analogous to the twomaster illustrated in b/w only of Schulz 283, ills. 275 (early, possibly authentic).

All  the  above  results  to  the  conviction  here  for  the  present  oil  in

a  clear , substantiated  basis  for  the  authenticity  of  Aert van der Neer

since also the dendrochronological certificate

– “… more likely, however, a cutting date between 1677 … 1681 … 1689+ x. … With a median of 17 sapwood annual rings and a minimal seasoning of the wood of 2 years a creation of the painting is to be assumed for rather on or after 1683” –

basically  deems  “an  earliest  creation …

with  a  minimal  time  of  seasoning  of  the  wood  of  2 years

possible  from 1673  onward”

and even with a seasoning of three to four years assumed more common with deciduous trees (Doerner, [The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting], 14th ed., 1976, p. 75) there still would remain two to three years (day of death is November 9 and the document of estate of the following 12th confirmed by the sons Pieter II + Eglon and the son-in-law Warnar Verdyck mentions among several pictures expressly also “‘Maentschyntje’ und ‘wintertje’” [Wurzbach II, p. 221] not identifiable in detail [so Schulz p. 14]) for an authorship.

Being reminiscent in this connection also of M. L. Wurfbain’s dendrochronological examination of five dated oils by van Goyen in Leyden whereupon this “obviously has favored painting-boards of freshly felled trees” as concluded by Hans-Ulrich Beck (Jan van Goyen III, 1987, p. 12).

Isn’t it very likely that the purchase of budget-priced younger boards for the needy late van der Neer meant a question of a to have and not to have?

Here then

“ a  night  by  moonlight  pervaded  by  the  light ”

as van der Neer succeeded in only in the ’50s, thereby free of the again increasing blackness “as (with) many works from the late years” (Bachmann, 1982, pp. 47 + 142) and with just the shitting man as anecdotal allowance for a new present up to its provocative eyes contact with the beholder. Shortly, independently of the authorship,

“ a  fine  and  perfectly  preserved  painting .”

The latter in the case of van der Neer an absolutum of its own. For

“ Panels and canvases that were left untouched over the past three centuries and a half are extremely rare and thus especially precious ”

(Wolfgang Schulz, by letter per December 2005 and p. 60 op. cit. resp.).

And for painting activity still in the ’70s Bachmann (1982) once more, p. 143 :

“ We follow the report by A(braham) Bredius. He describes the (winter) landscape he came across about 1885:

‘I yet have to mention a painting by van der Neer which years ago … was up for sale … It was a large winter landscape … painted peculiarly broad and strong in the manner of Rembrandt. In spite of the genuine monogram one did not deem the piece as genuine then … in my opinion it was that a late, perhaps the latest work of van der Neer, the manner (structure) of the painting was that of an old man’ …

… (T)he work by an old man one would rather not recognize so certainly in this, even if one considers the sometimes effusive manner of A. Bredius … for a lot is executed exactly and easily characterized … (But w)e (thus) learn from a reliable connoisseur of Dutch painting … that the artist has worked extensive winter landscapes still in the seventies after age-related difficulties had already come up, and has repeated the old theme and the old composition. ”

It is about Schulz 91 (probably a late work of around 1670 – authentic as well the oil Schulz 154, with regard of the costumes to be attributed to the same period – whose broken branches occur similarly in works of the ’30s and ’40s with the Camphuysens as early inspirers as with van der Neer himself), distinguished by color plate 20,

whose  somewhat  dry  blue  of  the  sky

just  as  the  insertion  of  the  black-gloomy  in  the  clouds

are  characteristics  of  the  painting  here , too .

The latter, certainly, thematically entailed mitigated indeed, but in the beginning as herewith not yet suffi-ciently well acquainted with felt as slightly irritatingly strange.

On  the  painting  panels  and  especially  on  the  faultless  planeness  of  the  wood  it shall be quoted for informational purpose as follows :

“ Usually the painters used local kinds of wood … in North Germany, North France, Flanders, Holland, and in England oak was used above all … wood is not simple to handle just with coating and not at all with painting for it reacts on the most varied influences exceedingly sensitively …

In the 15th down to the 16th centuries the panels where painted on the back … in equal succession or set … as on the front … The coating of the back thus had the intent to keep the panel plane … Supposedly the back of the paintings was impregnated with hot linseed oil varnish to seal the wood against the influences of the atmosphere. It is one merit of the St. Luke’s Guild that it always supervised the production of the painting panels … By the edges beveled and thinned out resp. by the drawknife or the draw-plane (while the center of the panel kept its not always even thickness) a further enhancement of the painting panel is reached (in analogy to early wooden board bindings).

Such  panels  with  the  beveled  sides

– just  as  here  then , too –

stay  absolutely  plane ,

even  with  severe  variations  in  temperature

(what is not to be misunderstood as warrant for carelessness in this respect and especially neglect of the relative humidity; not in the original). From certain tradition it is also known that selected heartwood was used for the painting panels, and this was even more dried in a special method (which drew along over years) ”

(Doerner, op. cit., pp. 75 + 259 f.).

So then, e.g., Claus Grimm, too, seeing in the case of Frans Hals’ Portrait of a Lady in Stuttgart the generally “homogeneously well preserved color coat” favored by wood as support (Grimm, Frans Hals, 1972, p. 18 ad cat. no. 79).

That the wood of present panel already grew when Columbus discovered a new world may let pause here and there, becoming aware in a high-spirited-hectic time of the long breath and hand of creation, and experience the view of the painting with pleasure, but also respect.

“ It  is  a  great  pleasure  to  explore

the  old , actually  mostly  quite  buoyant  masters

Aert van der Neer, River Landscape by Moonlight / Composition Scheme

with  the  experiences  of  modernity … ”

(Eduard Beaucamp in his address of gratitude on receipt of the Johann Heinrich Merck Award, FAZ Oct. 23, 06).

Follows account of the situation of the œuvre as a whole

The  Painted  van  der  Neer  Œuvre

after  Schulz

on  totally  1456  items

with consideration of one dropped and one entry combining two paintings each, not those numerous not identified works remaining unnumbered from the time of 1694 till 1868, however. – Irrelevant counting errors not precluded, percentages rounded.

On panel  c. 873 = 60.0%
On canvas  c. 475 = 32.6%
On other support
Thereof copper 6 , paper/pasteboard 1 each , none considered as authentic
8 = 0.5%
On unknown support  c. 100 = 6.9%
1456 = 100.0%

I

A) Schulz authentic oils  without ifs or buts
Thereof on panel = 179 = 60.5%
+ on canvas = 117 = 39.5%
297 = 20.4%
B) Positively regarded oils remaining without Schulz’ rating
of varied Schulz degrees of probably/possibly/conceivably up to substantially positive assessments/certificates/considerations by others
333 = 22.9%
C) Athentic or copy – that remains the question 31 = 2.1%
D) Copies, imitations, fakes  from contemporary till later
including rejections of prominently opinioned oils
568 = 39.0%
E) Oils which currently cannot be examined 227 = 15.6%
1456 = 100.0%

II

Signatures

Today almost all paintings associated with Aert van der Neer carry his monogram”

(Schulz, p. 122, bold type and spacing not in the original). Partly up to the date which apart from that generally is rare and temporarily left undone at all, see above.  That  present  oil  bears  no  inscription  therefore  certainly  is  no  deficiency .

A) Schulz authentic oils
Signatures  without ifs or buts
thereof on panel 67 = 62% / on canvas 41 = 38% / on unknown 1
thereof 53 and 39 resp. signed only (79.1 and 95.1% resp.) + 14 and 2 and 1 resp. signed and dated (20.9 + 4.9%)
109 = 36.7%
Explicitly classified as not inscribed in autograph
Thereof 8 on panel + 1 on canvas (88.9 and 11.1% resp.)
9 = 3.3%
Others classified as not inscribed in autograph
Thereof 93 on panel (thereof 83 signed only + 10 additionally dated = 89.2 and 10.8% resp.)
and 63 on canvas (thereof 60 signed only + 3 additionally dated = 95.2 and 4.8% resp.)
156 = 52.5%
Without inscriptions 23 = 7.7%
297    
B) Oils remaining without assessment by Schulz  at least
thereof at least 244 signed + 11 signed and dated (95.7 and 4.3% resp.)
255 = 76.6%
Without inscriptions  at most 78 = 23.4%
333    
C) Authentic or copy
Signed 22 = 71.0%
Signed + dated 3 = 9.7%
Without inscriptions 6 = 19.3%
31    
D) Copies, imitations, fakes
Signed  at least 283 = 49.8%
Signed + dated  at least 23 = 4.0%
Without inscriptions  at most 262 = 46.1%
568    
E) Oils not available for assessment
Inscriptions unkonown
227

 

Extract

of  the  van  der  Neer  Oils  of  the  Landscapes

after  Schulz , sect. 2

( therefore without winter landscapes + blazes )

on  totally  1110  especially  moonlight  items

with consideration of one entry joining two paintings, but not of those numerous not identified works remaining unnumbered from the time from here 1694 till 1850. – Irrelevant counting errors not precluded, percentages rounded.

On panel 703 = 63.3%
On canvas 339 = 30.5%
On unknown support  supposedly including all above 8 done on copper/paper/pasteboard as throughout not/hardly related to van der Neer 68 = 6.1%
1110 = 100.0%

I

A) Schulz authentic oils  without ifs or buts
Thereof on panel 128 = 66% , on canvas 65 = 33.5%
+ on unknown support 1 = 0.5%
194 = 17.5%
B) Positively regarded oils remaining without Schulz’ assessment
of varied Schulz degrees of probably/supposedly/conceivably up to substantially positive assessments/certificates/considerations by others
264 = 23.8%
C) Authentic or copy – that remains the question 23 = 2.1%
D) Copies, imitations, fakes  from contemporary till later
including rejections of prominently opinioned oils
436 = 39.3%
E) Oils not available for assessment 193 = 17.5%
1110 = 100.0%

II

Signatures

“Today almost all paintings associated with Aert van der Neer
carry …” see above)

A) Schulz authentic oils
Signatures  without ifs or buts
Thereof on panel 51 = 71.8% / on canvas 19 = 26.8% / on unknown 1 = 1.4%
thereof 38 and 18 resp. signed only (74.5 and 94.7% resp.) , 13 and 1 resp. signed and dated (25.5 + 5.3%) + signed only the unknown support
71 = 36.6%
Explicitly classified as not inscribed in autograph
thereof 8 on panel + 1 on canvas (88.9 and 11.1% resp.)
9 = 4.6%
Others classified as not inscribed in autograph
thereof 61 on panel (64.2%, thereof 53 signed only + 8 additionally dated = 86.9 and 13.1% resp.) + 34 on canvas (35.8%, thereof 32 signed only + 2 additionally dated = 94.1 and 5.9% resp.)
95 = 49.0%
Without inscriptions
thereof 9 on panel + 10 on canvas (47.4 and 52.6% resp.)
19 = 9.8%
194    
B) Oils remaining without Schulz’ assessment not broken down
C) Authentic or copy not broken down
D) Copies, imitations, fakes not broken down
E) Oils not available for assessment
signatures unknown
227

 

“ Aert  van  der  Neer  did  not  establish  a  ‘school’.

But this does not mean that his work remained without aftereffects … The existing, but rarely salient influence emanating from van der Neer’s art was sublime. It emanated in varied manner in the English landscape painting of William Turner and in German Romanticism with Caspar David Friedrich ”

(Fredo Bachmann as résumé of his beautiful precursor monograph, out of print since long, of 1982 [by Schünemann in Bremen, page 145] to Schulz).

Offer no. 14,800 / price on application


„ Vielen Dank für Alles, liebe Grüße und schönes Wochenende von der Mosel Herzlichst “

(Frau A. B., 4. April 2003)