LAWRENCE STEIGRAD FINE ARTS

Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits

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LODEWYK DE VADDER (Brussels 1605 – Brussels 1655)

 An Extensive Dune Landscape with Travelers and a Dog on a Path Alongside an Inlet

signed with initials L.D.V. in the lower left

oil on panel

18 5/8 x 25 1/4 inches        (47 x 63 cm.)


PROVENANCE

Ofenheim Collection, Austria (as by Lodewyk de Vadder and David Teniers II)

Norbert L.H. Roesler, New York

Estate of Norbert L. H. Roesler sale, Christie’s, New York, May 31, 1990, lot 6, where bought by

Private Collection, Pennsylvania until the present time

 

Lodewyk de Vadder was a landscape painter, etcher and designer of tapestries.  He was the son of Joos de Vadder and Anna van Segbroeck.  Although there is no documentation as to where Lodewyk spent his apprenticeship the assumption is probably under his brother Philippe’s direction, a master of the Brussels’ guild of painters by 1613.  Furthermore it is recorded that their brother Hubert began his apprenticeship with Philippe in 1613.  By 1628 Lodewyk was also a master in the guild.  Jean Claessens apprenticed with him in 1643 and Ignace van der Stock in 1653.  Cornelis de Bie stated that De Vadder also taught Lucas Achtschellinck and their works are often confused.  In 1664 De Vadder was awarded financial compensation by the city magistrates of Brussels for his tapestry work.  Circa 1650 he collaborated on tapestry designs with Jacob Jordaens for the factory of Jean Courdyns.  Other artists De Vadder worked with were David Teniers the Younger, Gaspar de Crayer and Pieter Bout who contributed staffage to his landscapes.  About twenty etchings of original compositions by De Vadder are known.  Arnold De Jode and Wenzel Hollar made engravings after his drawings.  The high regard for his landscapes is evident by the numerous museums who own works by the artist.  They include museums in Aix-en-Provence, Autun, Barnard Castle, Berlin, Brussels, Chambéry, Dublin, Florence, Ghent, Kiev, La Fère, Munich, Orléans, Paris, Prague, Quimper, Stockholm, The Hague and Würzburg. [1]

Important influences on De Vadder were the late landscapes of Peter Paul Rubens as well as the landscapes of Adriaen Brouwer (for example, see Dune Landscape under Moonlight, Staatliche Museum, Berlin).  These works sought a more naturalistic interpretation of landscapes through looser brushwork with an emphasis on atmospheric effects and a more cohesive transition between passages of color. [2]  De Vadder was the first Flemish artist to paint sand dunes as the primary feature of his landscapes, and they became his trademark.  Their relative emptiness imparted a sense of heightened naturalism to his works especially when compared to his main predecessor in Brussels, Denis van Alsloot.  Both took the environs of the Forêt de Soignes near Brussels as their inspiration but De Vadder’s dune landscapes represent a radical departure from Alsloot’s manneristic and densely wooded forests.  Although no record documents De Vadder’s travels to the north the parallels of his early work with the development of dune landscape painting in Holland in the late 1620’s by Pieter van Santvoort, Pieter de Molijn and Jan van Goyen cannot be mere coincidence.  His restrained palette further echoes the tonal landscapes of his Dutch contemporaries as opposed to the more vivid coloration of the Flemish tradition. [3]  In Brussels this break with the past was considered startling and revolutionary and made De Vadder, along with Jacques D’Arthois, the most important painter of the period. [4]

From a high vantage point under bright skies we view an expansive vista featuring a sand dune in the left foreground and a pond on the right.  The mid-ground represents a greener area clustered around two houses with a stone fence running halfway through the center.  In the far distance a town is just visible whose overall bluish cast lends it an ethereal quality.  A zigzag path cuts through the composition enlivened by a dog and two peasants in deep conversation in the foreground.  Further along its course a traveler rests and in the far distance at the end of the path a covered wagon just catches the light before disappearing over the hill.  Painted with a series of broad and quick brushstrokes the artist brings accessibility to the scene that still resonates today.  The overall subtlety of the palette serves to enhance the effect.  A work such as this represents the quintessence of De Vadder’s oeuvre.  Employing his standard elements of dunes, ponds, trees and cottages the artist created idealized settings featuring a peaceful country existence whose inhabitants’ leisurely lifestyle allowed them to indulge in idle pursuits.  Painted in smaller formats these works were intended to appeal to the townsmen of Brussels both in size and subject portraying a life they longed for but no longer lived. [5]

Norbert L. H. Roesler (1901-1983), from whose collection the present owner acquired the painting, was an international banker and businessman.  He was born in Austria in 1901.  He studied economics at the University of Vienna and afterwards entered banking.  He met his wife Elly van Tienhoven in Amsterdam after being transferred by the bank.  He went on to become the president of the Nederlandse Standaart Bank where he worked from 1930-47.  In 1947 the Roeslers moved to New York and started seriously collecting paintings and drawings.  While the week was devoted to his work as the New York representative of the Amro Bank, Saturday mornings were routinely spent in the company of Ambassador Hubert van Rijkckevorsel, then Dutch Consul General in New York, visiting galleries.  The collectors Theodor Cremer and Carel Goldschmidt were his friends and fellow enthusiasts. [6]

We are grateful to Marijke C. de Kinkelder of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague for her help in the preparation of this entry.

 

 

[1] Biographical information taken from Yvonne Thiery & Michel Kervyn de Meerendre, “Louis de Vadder” in Les Peintres Flamands de Paysage au XVIIe Siècle, Lefebvre et Gillet Editions d’Art, Brussels, 1987, p. 113 and J. de Maere & M. Wabbes, “Lodewyk de Vadder” in Illustrated Dictionary of 17th Century Flemish Painters, text volume, La Renaissance du Livre, Brussels, 1994, pp. 403-404.

[2] Hans Vlieghe, Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1998, pp. 192, 194-195.

[3] David Oldfield, “Louis de Vadder” in Later Flemish Paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1992, p. 158.

[4] J. de Meere & M. Wabbes, op. cit., p. 403.

[5] David Oldfield, op. cit., pp. 158-159.

[6] The Norbert L. H. Roesler Collection of Old Master, 19th and 20th Century Drawings, Christie’s, New York, May 31, 1990, unpaginated. 

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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