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Amsterdam: a view of the sint antoniespoort

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Jan van der Heyden was the foremost painter of cityscapes in the 17th Century.  Many of his pictures are capricci or composite views, incorporating elements from cities in the Low Countries and the Lower Rhine region of Germany, and few of his city views are entirely topographically accurate, since this seems not to have been his abiding concern.  His greatest works are however his Amsterdam views, some of which, including his celebrated view of the Westerkerk in the National Gallery in London, and, surprisingly perhaps, the present work (since at first glance it resembles his composite views), are remarkably true to life.  He was highly influential in his own day, but perhaps even more so in the 18th Century, and his influence is discernable in the work of Dutch painters of cityscapes until well into the 19th Century.\n\nThis is one of Jan van der Heyden’s finest pictures, and is preserved in exceptionally good condition.  It is a relatively early work, probably painted before 1665.  Presumably because of their high quality, the figures have traditionally been attributed to Adriaen van de Velde, who contributed the staffage to a number of Van der Heyden’s pictures.  They are nonetheless here more likely to have been Van der Heyden’s own work.  Both John Smith, who sold this picture to H. Bevan, and Hofstede de Groot, attributed the staffage to Adriaen van de Velde.1  Smith wrote of their collaboration: “This estimable production of the two masters is no less distinguished for the brilliancy of the effect than for the exquisite finishing observable in every part”.  Both also mis-identified the view as of Leiden, but Hofstede de Groot noted that his no. 98 is probably identical with his no. 21,2 which is identified as Amsterdam: the old St. Antoniespoort, the subject of the present picture.  The detailed description of the staffage in Hofstede de Groot no. 21 suggests however that it is another work.3\n\nThe Sint Antoniespoort was built in 1636 on the Amsterdam city side of what at that time was the outer encircling canal or stadsgracht, facing approximately south-east, and flanked by the city walls.  It was reached on the Amsterdam side by the Breestraat (now Jodenbreestraat), where Rembrandt lived, and from outside the city by the Sint Antoniesdijk (now Muiderstraat).  It stood roughly in the centre of what is now the Mr Visserplein.  The present view shows the city-gate seen from the Sint Antoniesdijk, looking north-west, with the setting sun casting long evening shadows.  Beyond the gate, and to the right of it, one can see the distinctive shape of the tower of the Zuiderkerk.\nThe gate itself was built of sandstone to the designs of Pieter de Keyser, and the two flanking watch-houses of brick; all three were roofed with lead.  De Keyser’s rather mannerist design, with rusticated blocks and a segmented pediment, was rather more flamboyant than Jacob van Campen’s austerely classicizing Heiligewegspoort, also erected in 1636.  Both gates were short-lived, since in 1662 the city was enormously extended by a new wall with ramparts and gates, built several hundred metres further out to allow for the city to expand, which made the older gates superfluous. The new city area was completely reorganised and the dike removed. A drawing by Jacob van Ruisdael4 (see Fig. 2) which served as the basis for an etching by Abraham Blooteling of 1664/16655 (see Fig. 3) and which represents nearly exactly the same situation as the present painting, shows the gate during its demolition (a terminus ante quem for the present picture). The Sint Antoniespoort was replaced by the Muiderpoort built in the new city walls further out, and after 1670, the large Portuguese Synagogue was built adjacent to the site, occupying the open space to the left of the present composition.\n\nVan der Heyden’s present depiction of the Sint Antoniespoort itself is remarkably accurate - unusually so for a small-scale city view - but he has probably taken some liberties with some of the flanking structures, especially those to the right.  Contemporary views of the site, such as the drawing by Jan van Kessel dated 1664, which was probably drawn on the spot6 (see Fig. 1),  or Ruisdael’s drawing and Blooteling's etching, do not show the large gabled roof to the immediate right of the Gate, although 17th-century maps seem to indicate such a structure (see Fig. 4). On the other side, only Van Kessel's drawing shows the very large warehouse-like building beyond it to the right.\n\nThis latter structure, which appears also in reduced size in the Hermitage version (see below, and Fig. 8), could very well have been one of the large buildings indicated on contemporary maps on the artificial island called Marken. Van der Heyden may have enlarged it in the present picture for dramatic effect.  The buildings to the left, however, can all be more easily identified (see also Fig. 5. for a topographical key).  The small building seen behind the wall, with its gabled end facing us, can be identified as part of the Leprozenhuis, or Leper’s House, built in 1608.  The large pedimented building beyond it and to the left was the Oudezijds Huiszittenhuis – a home for the old and infirm – and to the extreme left of the picture one can see the roof of the Turfpakhuizen – peat warehouses erected in 1606.  These last two buildings still stand today (see Fig. 6) and both form part of the Akademie van Bouwkunst (Academy for the Architecture of Amsterdam).  The small enclosed square in front is called Die Slebosplein.  The cut-stone pepper-pot structure in the right foreground, also to be seen to the right of Van Kessel’s drawing, was one of several known as monniken (monks) that sat atop the Oosterbeer (or “Steenen Beer”), which is the substantial gabled brick structure beneath it.  This was a protective dam outside the city-walls (the Westerbeer occupied a similar position outside the Haarlemmerpoort) to hold back floodwater from the sea.  The viewpoint has compressed the bridge leading from the classical outer gateway to the Sint Antoniespoort itself so that it appears to be a short crossing.  As can be seen in Van Kessel’s drawing, the wooden bridge was quite long, with two separate lifting spans in the middle.\n\nThe posts topped with baskets to the left of the Sint Antoniesdijk were probably, as Boudewijn Bakker has suggested, used by surveyors to indicate sites earmarked for future building.7  This site was subsequently used for the new Portuguese Synagogue, erected in the 1670s, but since the first recorded plans for it date from just after the demolition of the Sint Anthoniespoort in 1670, one cannot assume that these posts, seen also in some earlier views, are connected with it.  An anonymous drawing, probably a copy, shows the Sint Antoniespoort, isolated and in a state of disrepair, shortly before its demolition (see Fig. 7).8\n\nAnother view of the Sint Antoniespoort by Van der Heyden is known: a smaller picture in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg9 (see Fig. 7).  The Hermitage view is taken from very slightly closer to the gate, and omits the posts to the left of the road.  It shows less of the left hand part of the present view, but is in turn extended slightly to the right, showing part of the windmill known as De Ruiter to the right of the pepper-pot structure atop the Westerbeer.10  A weaker version, probably a copy of the Hermitage picture was with De Boer in Amsterdam.11  Helga Wagner attributes the staffage in both versions to Adriaen van de Velde.  Apart from this, Van der Heyden’s fantasy view in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,12 also datable before 1663, combines elements of the St Antoniespoort in Amsterdam with the Waterspoort in Amersfoort and St Severin's Church in Cologne. The composition of the Rijksmuseum picture is intriguing, since it follows the broad layout of the present picture quite closely, but with different architecture.  The city gate is seen from exactly the same angle as the present picture, an open space to the left, a mound approximating to the city wall beyond, and a church tower, albeit a gothic one, in the same position as the Zuiderkerk.  Van der Heyden took over the Steenen Beer with little lateration, save the changed angle, and with the addition of a second `pepper pot'.\n\nThe emphatic perspective and long shadows cast in evening light, marked characteristics of the present picture, are also found in another Amsterdam view in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, which depicts the Dam and Damrak.  Peter Sutton has recently shown that the Fogg picture attributed in the past to both Van der Heyden and Gerrit Berckheyde, is an early work by Van der Heyden, datable circa 1663.13\n\nFew of Van der Heyden's paintings are dated.  Only three of his Amsterdam views bear dates: two from 1667 and one from 1668.  His earliest dated work however, pre-dating two still lifes of 1664 and 1665, is a capriccio cityscape dated 1663 in the Harold Samuel collection, London.14  It therefore seems likely that Van der Heyden was painting city views from the early 1660s onwards, and that his rise to maturity took place earlier than his dated city views would suggest.  In the light of this, and mindful of the terminus ante quem of circa 1664-6 provided by Ruisdael's and Van Kessel's drawings and Blooteling's print, a dating of circa 1663-4, around the time of the similarly-lit Fogg picture, seems likely, as Peter Sutton has also suggested.15\n\nWe are grateful to Boudewijn Bakker, Erik Schmitz, and Norbert Middelkoop for their invaluable help in identifying the topography.  We are furthermore most grateful to Peter Sutton, whose exhibition Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) is at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, from 16th September 2006 until 10th January 2007, and will subsequently be shown at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.\n\nProvenance\nSébastien Érard (1752-1831) was a French manufacturer of musical instruments, distinguished especially for the improvements he made to the harp and the pianoforte.  His success afforded him the means to amass a significant collection of pictures.  He displayed them in a gallery that he had built in a wing of the Château de la Muette, Paris, where he lived from 1820 until his death.\n\nIt is not known when Alphonse de Rothschild acquired this picture.  he.  Upon his death in 1905 it passed to his daughter Béatrice de Rothschild (1864-1935).16  In 1883 she had married Maurice Ephrussi, a banker who had businnes connections with the Rothschilds.  Although the marriage did not last, she kept his name thereafter.  She built a substantial villa at St. Jean-Cap Ferrat, decorated in strong tones of pink, where she housed a collection of art partly inherited from her father and partly acquired, although it is not known if the present picture hung there.\n\nWe are grateful to Dr. Michael Hall and to Melanie Aspey of the Rothschild Archive for their help.\n1  Hofstede de Groot (see Literature), no. 5; Wagner (see Literature), no. 105.\n2  Idem, pp. 336-7.\n3  It is the picture formerly with P. de Boer, Amsterdam; Wagner, op. cit., p. 71, no. 18.\n4  Inv. no. 56/282; see S. Slive, Jacob van Ruisdael, A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings and Etchings, New Haven & London 2001, pp. 516-7, no. D32, reproduced.\n5  Hollstein no. 109, one of a set of six Amsterdam views; see Slive, idem, reproduced fig. D32a.\n6  Black chalk and grey wash on paper, 19.4 by 30.3 cm.,  Van Eeghen collection, Gemeente Archief Amsterdam; see B. Bakker etc, De verzameling Van Eeghen.  Amsterdamse tekeningen 1600-1950, Zwolle 1988, pp. 102-3, no. 41, reproduced.\n7  Verbal communication.\n8  Black chalk, pen and brown ink and grey and brown wash on paper, 14.9 by 20.7 cm., Van Eeghen collection, Gemeente Archief Amsterdam; see B. Bakker, op. cit., p. 103, no. 42, reproduced.\n9  Inv. no. 810; see Hofstede de Groot (idem), no. 24; Wagner (idem) no. 19.\n10  This windmill is also visible in the drawings by Van Kessel and Ruisdael, and in Blooteling’s print (qv).\n11  Signed, oil on panel, 28 by 34 cm.; Hofstede de Groot, no. 21; Wagner, idem, p. 71, no. 18.\n12  Inv. no. C143;  signed, oil on panel, 49 by 65 cm.; Hofstede de Groot, no. 5; Wagner, op. cit.,  p. 90, no. 105; T. Dibbits, in Sutton, op. cit., pp. 110-111, no. 3, reproduced in colour..\n13  Inv. no. 1968.65; see P.C. Sutton, under Literature, pp. 45-6.\n14  See P.C. Sutton, Dutch & Flemish Seventeenth-century paintings.  The Harold Samuel collection, Cambridge 1992, pp. 84-6, no. 27, reproduced in colour.\n15  Sutton, op. cit.,  p. 45.\n16  See A. Laprade, Chez Madame Béatrice de Rothschild-Ephrussi, extrait de Souvenirs, Paris 1928.\nCaptions\nFig. 1.  Jan van Kessel, Amsterdam, The Sint Antoniespoort, signed and dated : J. van Kessel. 1664, black chalk and grey wash on paper, 194 by 303 mm.  Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief, Verzameling van Eeghen.\n\nFig. 2, Jacob van Ruisdael, Amsterdam, a view of the St. Antoniespoort, black chalk and grey wash on paper, 14.9 by 21.1 cm. Bremen, Kunsthalle.\nFig.3  Abraham Blooteling, after Jacob van Ruisdael, Amsterdam, a view of the St. Antoniespoort, etching.\nFig. 4. Detail of Balthasar Florisz.' map of 1647\nFig. 5. Topographical key.\nFig. 6  Photograph of the Akademie van Bouwkunst, formerly the Oudezijds Huiszittenhuis, as it is today, seen from approximately the same angle as in Van der Heyden's painting.\nFig. 7.  Dutch School, circa 1670, Amsterdam, the Sint Antoniespoort,  black chalk, pen and brown ink and grey and brown wash on paper, 14.9 by 20.7 cm. Amsterdam, Gemeente Archief, Verzameling van Eeghen.\nFig. 8  Jan van der Heyden, Amsterdam, a view of the St. Antoniespoort, signed, oil on panel, 24 by 33.5 cm..  St. Petersburg, Hermitage.\n \nSigned lower centre: JvdHeÿde


We are grateful to Dr Bart Cornelis for pointing out that the figures are in fact by Adrian van der Velde.


Oil on oak panel


Jan van der Heyden


39.6 by 59.6 cm.; 14 1/2 by 23 1/2 in.


J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné…, vol. V, London 1834, pp. 384-5, no. 45; C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné…, vol. VIII, London 1927, p. 359, no. 98; H. Wagner, Jan van der Heyden 1637-1712, Amsterdam-Haarlem 1971, p. 70, no. 17, reproduced; P.C. Sutton, Jan van der Heyden, 1637-1712, exhibition catalogue, Greenwich, Bruce Museum, 16 September 2006 - 10 January 2007, pp. 45-6, 110 (under no. 3), reproduced fig. 3.


Possibly anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Posthumus, De Leth, 5 June 1754, lot 16; Lollier; His deceased sale, Paris, Paillet, 6 April 1789, for 4,800 Francs; Chevalier Sébastien Érard (1752-1831), Château de la Muette, Paris; His deceased sale (on the instructions of his nephew and heir Pierre Érard), Paris, 23ff April 1832, lot 85, for 2,550 Francs; John Smith, by whom bought in Paris for 3,500 Francs, and by whom sold to H. Bevan, London, by 1834; Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905), Paris; His inventory, Rue de St. Florentin, Paris, 5th July 1903 (Rothschild Archive London, Lafite Papers OE 316 in the Salon vert, p. 24, Van der Heyden, Porte et murs d'une cité). His daughter,  Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild, later Baronness Maurice Ephrussi (1864-1934); Her (anonymous: “Un Amateur”) sale, Paris, 3 July 1920, lot 21, as by Gerrit Berckheyde (note: Helga Wagner identified the sale as that of “Pauline Lasquin”; in fact two of the experts were: Paulme, Lasquin); A.F. Philips, Eindhoven, 1920 (an inscription on the reverse records the cradling of the panel in this year just outside Amsterdam: geparqueteerd in 1920 BvBemmel, Watergraafsmeer); Thence by descent.


Signed lower centre: JvdHeÿde


Property from a Private Collection


Gorinchem 1637 - 1712 Amsterdam

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

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