A View of Naarden with the Tower of the Saint Vitus Church in the Background
CORNELIS SPRINGER (Amsterdam 1817 - Hilversum 1891)
signed and dated in the lower left C. Springer 1862
oil on panel
9 2/3 x 7 1/2 inches (25 x 19.3 cm.)
Acquired directly from the artist on April 15, 1862 by
Johannes Cornelis van Pappelendam, Amsterdam (1810 – 1884)
Dr. Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst, Huis te Hoevelaken (1866-1939)
Kunsthandel P.A. Scheen, The Hague by 1943
Anonymous sale, Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, September 27, 1966, lot 494
Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, March 23, 1984, lot 7
MacConnal-Mason Gallery, London, where acquired by
Private Collection, Virginia, May 1984, until the present time
Willem Laanstra, H.C. de Bruijn, & J.H.A. Ringeling, Cornelis Springer (1817 – 1891),
Tableau, Utrecht, 1984, p. 133, no. 62-5, illustrated
Willem Laanstra, “Cornelis Springer, toch een boeiend stadsportrettist ?”, Tableau,
volume 8, December 1985, pp. 53, 59, no. 625, illustrated
Willem Laanstra, “Erratum Cornelis Springer (1817 – 1891)”, Tableau, volume 8,
summer 1986, p. 55, no. 133/62.5
Willem Laanstra, Cornelis Springer, geschilderde steden, Kunstwerk, Rokin Art Press,
Amsterdam, 1994, p. 49, illustrated
Gemeentemuseum, Arnhem, inventory number A.18
Cornelis Springer was the most celebrated painter of cityscapes of his generation. Unsurprisingly he came from a family of builders. He began his studies at the Amsterdam Academy of Fine Arts under the instruction of Jacobus van der Stok and Herman G. ten Cate. From 1835 – 1837 Springer trained with Kaspar Karsen, who was also a brilliant townscapist. He traveled extensively in Holland, Belgium, and Germany, as well as continuously exhibiting from 1834 – 1890. Gold medals followed, as well as a Knighthood in the Order of Leopold, the oldest and highest order in Belgium. His works can be found in museums throughout Holland, including the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam that owns another view of Naarden by Springer.1 Outside Holland the artist’s works formed part of the permanent collections of the museums of Antwerp, Bremen, Boston, Cheltenham, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Williamstown, and Washington, D.C.
In this gem of a panel, Springer captures a charming scene of daily life on a sunny afternoon in the town of Naarden. Naarden is situated in the Gooi region of northern Holland. It was granted its city rights in 1300. It grew into a fortified garrison by the sixteenth century, and later developed a textile industry. In the center background is the St. Vitus Church which is located on the market square. Dating from the fifteenth century, it is one of the oldest surviving churches in The Netherlands. Naarden was also the birthplace of the seventeenth century landscape painter Salomon van Ruysdael.
Springer’s “romantic penchant for the seventeenth century” 2 is on full display in this work. One has only to consider Johannes Vermeer’s The Little Street in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam to ascertain a starting point. In this panel Springer’s precise rendering of seventeenth century houses separated by a stone archway, bathed in sunlight, is a tour de force. Such passages as the reflected light off the multipaned windows of the bell gabled house, along with details like the hoisting hook protruding from the step gable house, enhance the authenticity of the depiction. “He was also a gifted painter of the figure”, 3 and devoted a great deal of study to the effects of light and shadow in their portrayal. While all of the other figures on the street are bathed in light, the three women drawing water from the pump are cast in shadow, creating a visual metaphor for the dampness of their task.
The panel’s illustrious history underlines the esteem in which it is has always been held. The work was originally acquired directly from the artist by Johannes Cornelis van Pappelendam of Amsterdam on April 15, 1862. Van Pappelendam, a noted art collector, studied drawing and lithography at the Royal Academy of Art, Amsterdam. He would next become a concierge at the Academy and an amanuensis at the Museum van der Hoop. This led to a career as an art dealer and eventually the establishment of the auction house Van Pappelendam & Schouten, Amsterdam. 4 This was followed by its acquisition for the collection of Dr. Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst. Van Aalst had a spectacularly successful career in banking and international trade, which permitted him to collect Dutch paintings on a grand scale. The collection grew to such an extent that in 1925 Van Aalst purchased the castle Huis te Hoevelaken for its display. Built in 1679, Van Aalst promptly demolished it to erect a more monumental version. 5 The collection consisted primarily of old master paintings with choice works from later periods. When his Rembrandt of Juno was purchased in 1976 by Armand Hammer for $3,250,000, it was the most expensive work by the artist ever sold. 6 The provenance of Van Aalst has always been a golden one.
At some point during Van Aalst’s ownership it was loaned to the Gemeentemuseum in Arnhem. After his death in 1939, the painting passed into the inventory of Kunsthandel P.A. Scheen in The Hague. Pieter Arie Scheen began his dealership in 1931, dedicated to the selling of Dutch Romantic and Hague School paintings. In 1970 he published his two volume work Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750 – 1950, which constitutes the standard reference for the field. 7 As Springer was one of the leading artists of Dutch Romanticism, his works were naturally held in esteem by the firm.
In 1966 A View of Naarden was sold in Amsterdam at the auction house Mak van Waay, and resold in 1984 at Christie’s London. It was bought by the venerable London gallery of MacConnal-Mason who specialized in Dutch Romantic works. It was quickly purchased two months later, and became part of a collection of paintings in Virginia, where it has been off the market until the present time.
1 Biographical information taken from Pieter A. Scheen, “Cornelis Springer” in Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750 – 1880, Uitgeverij Pieter A. Scheen BV, ́s- Gravenhage, 1981, p. 491.
2 Carole Denninger-Schreuder, Painters of Amsterdam, Four Centuries of Cityscapes, THOTH Publishers, Bussom, 2001, p. 54.
3 Ibid, p.54.
4 Biographical information taken from “Johannes Cornelis van Pappelendam” on rkd.nl (RKD Explore) website, and “Johannes Cornelis van Pappelendam” on beeldbank.amsterdam.nl/ofbeek website.
5 Biographical information taken from “Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst” on oudhoorn.nl/ website.
6 “Juno has Arrived, Hammer Loans Painting to Fogg”, The Harvard Crimson, October 2, 1976.
7 “Pierre Arie Scheen” on Dictionary of Art Historians website dictionaryofarthistorians.org.