LAWRENCE STEIGRAD FINE ARTS

Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits

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FOLLOWER OF OSIAS BEERT I (Circa 1605-1630)

Almonds, Oysters, Sweets, Chestnuts, and Wine on a Wooden Table

bears signature D. D. Heem with the second and third initials conjoined in the lower left foreground

oil on panel

18 1/8 x 25 ¾ inches      (46.1 x 68.5 cm.)


PROVENANCE

Arot Collection

M. Arot sale, Galerie Fievez, Brussels, October 29, 1928, lot 52, plate X (as Jean-David de Heem)

D.A. Hoogendijk & Co., Amsterdam, 1932 (as David de Heem)

Duits Ltd., Amsterdam & London, from whom acquired by

Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, by 1933, inventory number 2567 (as David de Heem)

Looted by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, July 1940, who sold it to

Alois Miedel, then owner of Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam, 1940

Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker-Miedel sale, Hans W. Lange, Berlin, December 3-4, 1940, lot 23, plate 20 (attribution changed by Walther Bernt to Osias Beert II)

Anonymous sale, Kunsthaus Lempertz, Cologne, May 22-27, 1957, lot 1182, illustrated (as Osias Beert II)

Gemälde-Galerie Abels, Cologne, 1957

Kunsthandlung Julius Böhler, Munich, until December 1957 (as Osias Beert) where purchased by

Kunsthandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam (as Osias Beert) who sold it to

F. Thornton, Antwerp, February 1958

Private Collection, The Hague, by 1969

Private Collection, France

Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, December 2, 2008, lot 23 (as Follower of Osias Beert I)

Anonymous sale, Christie’s, London, October 28, 2009, lot 50 (as Follower of Osias Beert I)

Restituted to Marei von Saher, heir to Jacques Goudstikker, March 2012

“Collection of Jacques Goudstikker sale,” Christie’s, New York, June 3, 2015, lot 50 (as Circle of Osias Beert I)

EXHIBITED

Amsterdam, D.A. Hoogendijk & Co., Catalogus van schilderijen van weinig bekende meesters uit de zeventiende eeuw, June 15 - July 15, 1932, no. 39 (as David de Heem)

Amsterdam, Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker, Het Stilleven, February 18 - March 26, 1933, no. 138 (as David de Heem)

The Hague, Kunsthandel G.J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar, Oude Kunst, October 20 – November 17, 1934, no. 16 (as David de Heem)

LITERATURE

H. P. Bremmer, Beeldende Kunst, no. 43, jaargang 18, W. Scherjon, Utrecht, 1931, illustrated (as D. de Heem)

Catalogus van schilderijen van weinig bekende meesters uit de zeventiende eeuw, D.A. Hoogendijk & Co., Amsterdam, June 15 – July 15, 1932, no. 39 (as David de Heem)

Het Stilleven, exhibition catalog, Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker, Amsterdam, February 18-March 26, 1933, no. 138, unpaginated (as David de Heem)

George Isarlov, “L’Exposition de la Nature Morte à Amsterdam” in Formes, no. 32, Editions des Quatre Chemins, Paris, Summer 1933, p. 361, fn. 5, illustrated (as David de Heem I)

Oude Kunst, Kunsthandel G.J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar, The Hague, October 20 - November 17, 1934, no. 16, unpaginated. (as David de Heem)

W. Jos de Gruyter, Het Vaderland, Novmber 10, 1934 (as David de Heem)

Art and Auctions, volume I, no. 12, Van Kouteren’s Publishing Co., Ltd., Rotterdam, July 1957, p. 341, illustrated (as Osias Beert)

A.P. de Mirimonde, “Musique et symbolisme chez Jan-Davidszoon de Heem, Cornelis-Janszoon et Jan II Janszoon de Heem” in Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, 1969, p. 245 (as one of three known works signed by David de Heem)

Sam Segal, A Prosperous Past, The Sumptuous Still Life in the Netherlands 1600-1700, SDU Publishers, The Hague, 1988, p. 229 (as another version of Still Life with the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus by Osias Beert I)

“De 14 nooit geveilde werken van Goudstikker-erfgename Marei von Saher” in NRC.NL>in beeld, May 7, 2015, p. 6, illustrated (as Osias Beert I)

 

The depiction of this sumptuous still life derives from imagery used by Osias Beert I and Frans Francken I to illustrate the story The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus, a parable of greed and deprivation. A direct reflection of this tale can be found in the remarkable history of this panel during the course of the twentieth century.

The earliest known provenance for this tempting array of painted delights is the Arot Collection, which encompassed a distinguished group of European paintings that ranged from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. The collection was sold by Galerie Fievez, Brussels, on October 29, 1928. Misinterpreting the David de Heem signature, the panel was catalogued as by Jean-David de Heem. By 1932 the painting was with D.A. Hoogendijk & Co., a gallery which ranked among the top old master dealers in Amsterdam. It was included in their 1932 exhibition of seventeenth century masters as the work of David de Heem.[1] The next recorded owner is Duits, Ltd., a firm that specialized in Dutch and Flemish old master paintings. It first opened in Dordrecht in 1836 and then relocated to Amsterdam in 1875, later opening a branch in London in 1920. By 1933 Jacques Goudstikker had purchased the work from Duits and recorded the transaction in pounds in his inventory book under no. 2567.

Goudstikker was one of the most important Dutch art dealers of the period. His firm Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker was located in a seventeenth century canal house on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. His interest in old masters ranged from Italian gold ground and Renaissance works to early Netherlandish and German paintings, Dutch and Flemish seventeenth century paintings, to the French and Italian Rococo. He mounted extraordinary shows in the 1930s, innovatively focusing on thematic exhibitions,[2] such as the wide-ranging Het Stilleven that included our panel (no.138, as by David de Heem). The show consisted of 362 still lifes dating from the fifteenth to twentieth century. In reviewing the exhibition in Formes, George Isarlov pointed to the so-called David de Heem as representative of a growing international style among such painters as Georg Flegel, Peter Binoit, Louise Moillon, Jacob van Es, Floris van Dijck, and Clara Peeters. The article’s nine illustrations, among which this work was included, were described by Isarlov as the principal works of the show.[3]

In 1934 the painting was loaned to the exhibition, Oude Kunst, held at Kunsthandel G.J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar in The Hague. Once again it was singled out, along with a few others, as a highlight of the show. W. Jos de Gruyter, then visual arts editor for Het Vaderland, wrote “Vooral menig stilleven mag hier zonder voorbehoud worden: ... nr.16 van David de Heem ... stuk voor stuk kostelijke schilderijen.” (In particular many still lifes can be lauded here unreservedly: [mentions a few others] no. 16 by David de Heem, ... one after the other splendid paintings.)

Goudstikker advised important clients, among them by the early 1930s Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. He sold to major museums including the Rijksmuseum; Mauritshuis; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; National Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Art Institute of Chicago. Yet such renowned success served to make Goudstikker a prime target once the Nazis invaded on May 10, 1940. Miraculously, on May 13th, accompanied by his wife Dési and young son Edward, he managed to book passage on the cargo ship SS Bodegraven bound for Dover. As the ship was teeming with fleeing refugees, conditions on board were deplorable. That night, unable to sleep in the airless hold the family had been crammed into, Goudstikker sought relief on the blacked-out deck. In the darkness he fell through an open hatch and was killed. When the body was recovered a small notebook was found containing details on the 1,113 artworks of his inventory. This notebook would come to be known as the Blackbook.[4]

Two weeks after Goudstikker’s death Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering visited his gallery. Eager to be next in line in the plundering of Goudstikker’s stock after Adolf Hitler had his pick; the curator of the collection at his country estate Carinhall, Walter Andreas Hofer, had already traveled to Holland on May 20th. Shortly thereafter, a sale of the inventory, gallery, and properties was arranged.[5] Kajetan Mühlmann, a captain in the SS who also held a Ph.D. in art history, and had been in charge of the Sonderbeauftragten fur die Erfassung der Kunst und Kulturschätze (Special Commission for the Disposition of Art and Cultural Treasures) in Poland, had by the end of May set up an office in The Hague. One of his initial acts was to establish bank accounts for Hitler, Goering, and other officials for purchases. The money transfers for the Goudstikker sales were conducted by Lipmann, Rosenthal & Co., Amsterdam, which became the “official” bank for Mühlmann’s operation. Such “sales” were arranged in this manner in order to present an image of legality.[6]

The terms of the Goudstikker sale were contracted by Hofer. Goudstikker’s mother Emilie, who had chosen to remain in Holland, owned a minority block of shares in the firm and was forced to consent to the sale. Goudstikker’s wife Dési by this point had safely reached America. As the majority shareholder, she was contacted by members of the gallery’s staff for her agreement to the sale. Although she refused, the proceedings continued. In July 1940 Goering acquired all of Goudstikker’s stock, and the Bavarian banker Alois Miedl the real estate and gallery, as well as the firm’s name.[7] Staff members Jan Dik, Sr. and Arie Albertus ten Broek signed the document confirming the deal for which each received 180,000 guilders as a reward. Jan Dik, Jr., was given 25,000 guilders.[8]

Immediately the sorting out process of the artworks began and continued throughout the fall in both Holland and Carinhall, probably carried out by Hofer.[9] At some point during this period Goering sold the “David de Heem” back to Miedl. Miedl, having had some prior experience in the buying and selling of artworks with the aid of Hofer, through the acquisition of the Goudstikker firm, became one of the premier art dealers in Europe. Yet greed was not the sole motivating factor. Miedl had a Jewish wife who survived solely due to the Reichsmarschall’s protection and Miedl’s usefulness in supplying him with artworks and serving as a clearing house for other looted collections. Miedl did put the funds paid for the purchase of the gallery into a special account for Goudstikker’s mother and wife, although by the end of the war they were largely depleted. He further saved Goudstikker’s mother Emilie from being sent to the concentration camps. Miedl would prove hugely successful in a “hot” wartime art market selling to the Nazi elite, German museums, and wealthy collectors. Only in 1944 with Goering’s power diminished and the war going badly did Miedl and his wife flee to Spain.[10]

In December 1940 the Hans W. Lange auction house in Berlin sold the “David de Heem” where it had been consigned by Miedl. Hans W. Lange specialized in sales of looted material from all over Europe and maintained close ties with the key figures who orchestrated the pillaging.[11] The cataloger was Walther Bernt, who later published one of the standard references in the field, The Netherlandish Painters of the Seventeenth Century. It was at this point that the attribution was changed to Osias Beert II.[12] Bernt justified the change by relating it to two similar works by Beert recently exhibited at the Galerie Stein, Paris, show, Natures Mortes des 17e et 18e siècles from May 15 - June 3, 1939, nos. 4 & 5. He further related the glass filled with red wine to a very similarly fluted one in a panel in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble.[13] Interestingly also in the catalog entry, Bernt included the 1933 Amsterdam Het Stilleven exhibition as well as its write-up in the Formes review, yet deleted the name of Goudstikker completely.

The purchaser of the painting at the auction is unknown. The work next appears again as Osias Beert II in a Lempertz auction in Cologne on May 22-27, 1957. The cataloguing is very similar to that of the Lange sale, including the still-life show and Formes review and again makes no reference to Goudstikker. Presumably the purchaser was Gemälde-Galerie Abels, Cologne, as they were in possession of the work shortly thereafter.[14] They specialized in paintings from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries as well as graphic arts.

The painting is next documented as being in the possession of Kunsthandlung Julius Böhler in Munich. A leading gallery in Germany since shortly after its founding in 1880, the firm specialized in paintings, sculpture, and drawings from the late middle ages through the eighteenth century. In December 1957 Böhler sold the work to Kunstandel P. de Boer, Amsterdam.

De Boer was founded in 1922 and by the 1930s was among the major galleries in Amsterdam. Following Jacques Goudstikker’s lead they also organized art historical exhibitions and catalogs that focused on such subjects as Joos de Momper, the younger members of the Brueghel family and flower still lifes. After Goudstikker’s departure, Pieter de Boer became head of the Dutch Association of Art Dealers. Unfortunately the firm never had the opportunity to publish this work as it sold very quickly. On February 26, 1958, it was acquired by a private collector from Antwerp, F. Thornton.[15]

The work eventually passed to a private collection in France and then surfaced in two auctions at Christie’s in London on December 2, 2008, and October 28, 2009. Labeled as Follower of Osias Beert I, all of the provenance, exhibition history, and literature connected to the work had disappeared. The David de Heem signature had been painted over. At some point after these sales it came to the attention of the Goudstikker Provenance Project, which assists Jacques Goudstikker’s descendants in locating and providing scholarly documentation on the family’s lost works. The original restitution to Marei von Saher, the wife of Jacques’ son Edward, by the Dutch government was in 2006 and consisted of 202 art works. From the 1,113 works looted, a number of others have since surfaced, but the majority remain missing.[16] This work was restituted to the family in March 2012.

At Christie’s New York on June 3, 2015, along with other restituted Goudstikker works, this painting again fell under the hammer. Although its known provenance was almost fully catalogued, its pertinent exhibition history and literature were missing. Most importantly, its singular story remained untold. This painting was prized by the successive stream of collectors and important dealers who owned it throughout the course of the twentieth century as well as praised in the accompanying literature as either a rare David de Heem or Osias Beert I or II. It was snatched by the most avaricious collector of the century Hermann Goering. Its owner was killed in the resultant flight and his family betrayed by the gallery’s remaining staff. Its documentation gradually became detached and the telltale signature painted over. After seventy-two years it was finally returned to its rightful owner. Its history exemplifies the fact that the naming of the artist is a secondary concern. The panel’s intrinsic value lies in the beauty of its imagery. Intended for admiration as well as moral contemplation when executed in the early part of the seventeenth century, its subsequent history fulfills the painter’s intent.

As originally stated, the composition replicates the still life portion of a work currently thought to have been jointly executed by Osias Beert I and Frans Francken I called Still Life with Rich Man and Poor Lazarus, now in a private collection in England.[17] In this composition the still life fills the majority of the picture plane with the upper right quadrant depicting the rich man at a table among a group of young, elegantly dressed diners while Lazarus in rags, with dogs licking his wounds, is seated on the floor starving and begging.

By the second quarter of the seventeenth century the inclusion of such moralistic background scenes had faded, as the symbolic meaning of the rich man’s meal had become abundantly clear.[18] Although presented with such a dazzling array of delights, one can imagine the seventeenth century viewer responding with only a modicum of disdain. From a high vantage point on a wooden table top that rises as it recedes into the background, the viewer is presented in the left foreground with an overflowing Wan Li bowl of peeled almonds mixed with candied almonds (today called “Jordan almonds”) and candied cinnamon sticks. Such sticks are called kapittelstokjes in Dutch after the marker used as a place holder in the Bible by a minister.[19] To the right are oysters on a pewter platter. Oysters were regarded as a delicacy; and particularly favored in port cities like Antwerp, the composition’s city of origin.[20] On the left, two lovely façon de Venise glasses, in which the light from the studio’s window is reflected, are filled with white and red wine.[21] In the center, an ornate silver tazza decorated with bejeweled seahorses, holds an array of tempting sweets. These include a rectangular almond paste tartlet, a tartlet topped with three different types of grapes, round almond paste tartlets, biscotti, as well as white and red molded letters. Bakers in the Netherlands belonged to guilds and their recipes were closely guarded secrets.[22] Such confections would have ranked among their highest achievements and been an incredible luxury.[23] Chestnuts on a pewter plate as well as a cracked one are to the right of the tazza. Chestnuts appeared in the marketplace in autumn and perhaps can be viewed as a metaphor for the coming of winter. They were boiled and eaten as a starch. They were also an ingredient in fine stews or, alternatively, they could be served with melted butter sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.[24] The large white roll is another token of sumptuous living, as it was expensive in comparison with whole wheat or rye the standard fare.[25] Behind the tazza is another plate of sweets.

We are very grateful to Fred G. Meijer of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague, and the food historian Peter G. Rose for their invaluable assistance in the writing of this entry.

 

[1] David de Heem was traditionally believed to have been born in Utrecht, possibly in 1570, and to have died in Antwerp, perhaps in 1632. He was categorized as a “still-life painter of distinction”. – See John Denison Champlin, Jr. & Charles C. Perkins, eds., “David de Heem” in Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, volume II, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1900, p. 222. Although the father of Jan Davidsz. de Heem is often recorded as David de Heem I, in actuality he was not a painter, and his correct name was David van Antwerpen. Clarification given in a written communication from Fred G. Meijer of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague, dated December 28, 2015.

[2] Peter Sutton, “Director’s Preface” and “Jacques Goudstikker (1891-1940): Art Dealer, Impresario and Tastemaker” in Reclaimed Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker, exhibition catalog, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, May 10 - September 7, 2008, and The Jewish Museum, New York, March 12 – August 2, 2009, pp. 10, 25.

   [3] George Isarlov, op. cit., pp. 360-361.

[4] Lynn H. Nicholas, “A Long Odyssey: the Goudstikker Collection” in Important Old Master Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker, April 1, 2007, New York, pp. 9-10.; Peter Sutton, op. cit., pp. 10, 29; and Yehudit Shendar & Niv Goldberg, “The Insatiable Pursuit of Art, The Jacques Goudstikker Collection and Nazi Art Looting” in Reclaimed, op. cit., pp. 38-39, 46.

    [5] Yehudit Shendar & Niv Goldberg, op. cit., p. 47.

[6] Lynn H. Nicholas, The Rape of Europa, Vintage Books, New York, 1995, p. 48; Yehudit Shendar & Niv Goldberg, op. cit., p. 48; and “Kajetan Mühlmann” on Dictionary of Art Historians, website.

[7] Yehudit Shendar & Niv Goldberg, op. cit., p. 47; and Lawrence M. Kaye, “The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection” in Reclaimed, op. cit., p. 57.

[8] “1940 Verkoop J. Goudstikker N.V. aan Miedlen Goring” in Rapportage Restitutiecommissie, section 1.15.

[9] Nancy H. Yeide, Beyond the dreams of avarice: the Hermann Goering collection, Laurel Publishing, Dallas, Texas, 2009, p. 12.

   [10] Lynn H. Nicholas, op. cit., 1995, pp. 105-106; and 2007, p. 10.

[11] “Post-War reports: Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) Reports 1945-1946 and ALIU Red Flag Names List and Index” on lootedart.com website (The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945).

[12] Osias Beert II, the son of Osias Beert I, was probably born in Antwerp circa 1620 and is believed to have spent his life there, dying circa 1678. In 1644 he was admitted to the guild as a master’s son. There is only one recorded and presumed example of his work, a still life with oysters and herring in a Christie’s London sale, October 12, 1956, signed and dated Osias ... 1650, but it was not reproduced and its present location is unknown. - See Adriaan van der Willigen & Fred G. Meijer, “Osias (II) Beert” in A Dictionary of Dutch and Flemish Still-life Painters Working in Oils, 1525-1725, Primavera Press, Leiden, 2003, p 32.

[13] At the time the work in Grenoble was attributed to Louise Moillon, but is now given to Osias Beert I, see inv.no. MG 434 – Deux vases de fleurs et trois plats de fruits avec un coquetier et une verre, oil on panel, 52 x 73 cm..

[14] Inscribed on the photocard from the Lempertz sale – “picture in possession of Abels, Cologne”.

[15] Hans Buijs and Ger Luijten, eds., Goltzius to Van Gogh, Drawings and Paintings from the P. & N. De Boer Foundation, Thoth Publishers, Bussum, 2014; and written communication with Kunsthandel P. de Boer dated July 16, 2015.

[16] Yehudit Shendar & Niv Goldberg, op. cit., p. 47; and Clemens Toussaint, “How to Find One Thousand Paintings, The Fate of Jacques Goudstikker’s Looted Art Collection” in Reclaimed, op. cit., pp. 63, 68.

[17] “Osias Beert I and Frans Francken I, Stilleven van Oesters a Koekjes; op de achtergrond Lazarus en de rijke man”, on rkd.nl (RKD Explore) website.

    [18] Sam Segal, op. cit., p. 42.

    [19] Written communication from the food historian Peter G. Rose dated July 6, 2015.

   [20] E. de Jongh, “Jacob Foppens van Es” in Still-Life in the Age of Rembrandt, Auckland City Art Gallery, 1982, p.          129.

[21] Such glasses were made in imitation of Venetian ones in locations other than Venice. They were popular throughout Europe, particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. - see the Corning Museum of Glass, www.cmog.org/glass.

[22] Peter G. Rose, “Job Berckheyde, Baker” in Matters of Taste, Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life, Albany Institute of History & Art, 2007, p. 34; and Peter G. Rose, 2015, op. cit..

[23] Ingvaar Bergström, “Osias Beert the Elder, Fruit, Nuts, Wine and Sweets on a Ledge” in Still Lifes of the Golden Age, exhibition catalog, National Gallery of Art, Washington, May 14 - September 4, 1989, p. 96.

[24] Donna R. Barnes & Peter G. Rose, “Adriaen Coorte, Chestnuts on a Ledge” in Matters of Taste, op. cit., p. 70.

[25] Henry D. Gregory, “Narrative and Meaning in Pieter Claesz’s Still Life” in Pieter Claesz, Master of Haarlem Still Life, exhibition catalog, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, November 27, 2004 – April 4, 2005, p. 99.

 

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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