JOHANNES NATUS (active Middleburg, third quarter of the 17th Century)
Two Men and a Woman Drinking and Smoking at a Table Outside a House
oil on canvas
32 ¾ x 29 ½ inches (83.3 x 74.7 cm.)
Private Collection, Geneva, 1941, as by Vermeer
Sale, Sotheby’s, London, December 16, 1999, lot 34, where sold for £70,000 ($112,889)
Johnny Van Haeften, London
Little is known about Natus, who settled in Middleburg and joined its Guild in late 1661 or early 1662. To date only a small oeuvre has been identified, with works dating from 1658 to 1662 and chiefly consisting of genre pieces, such as the present work. The artist’s style shows strong affinities with that of Ludolph de Jongh, which suggests that the Natus may have originally come from Rotterdam. The same dog appears, in reverse, in a similar signed and dated painting of 1660 now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and similar groups of drinking or smoking figures also recur in signed works now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and formerly in the Butôt collection (see W. Bernt, The Netherlandish Painters of the Seventeenth Century, London 1970, vol. II, p. 830, illustrated).