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De Calvarieberg van Philips Wouwerman herontdekt

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

Since the 1993 publication, in this journal, of an article about Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668), little new information about the artist has emerged. There have been some shorter publications and recently a monograph with a catalogue raisonné of Wouwerman. The 1993 article discussed roughly two dozen dated works. In addition there are a few references to dated paintings in old sale catalogues. Among these was a Calvary, known to be dated 1651. This painting has recently been rediscovered (fig. i). It is in excellent condition and forms an important addition to the artist's known work, not only because it is dated, but also because its biblical subject is unusual for the artist. The crucifixion itself is given a relatively modest place in the composition. It is possible that an engraving by Lucas van Leyden inspired Wouwerman when he painted the scene. Stylistically the painting fits with Wouwerman's other works from around 1652. Certain aspects of the composition are reminiscent of his earlier work, but the rendering of landscape and figures, and the use of colour arc characteristic of his canvases from the period 1652-1654, for example Peasants making merry in front of an inn of 1653, now in Minneapolis (fig. 2) and the Peasant wedding in the Samuel Collection at the Mansion House, London. The painting was probably sold at auction in Amsterdam in 1709, together with two other New Testament scenes by Wouwerman, and a Crucifixion of 1661 by Karel du Jardin. Hofstede de Groot noted that the latter work and Wouwerman's Calvary were paintcd in response to a competition announced by the Count of Wassenaar, but this seems untenable. If both pieces were indeed painted for one collector, it seems more likely that this was Jacob Cromhout from Amsterdam. The rediscovery of the Calvary adds important information to our picture of Wouwerman and reminds us that he was not just a successful painter of horse scenes. It also provided a helpful reference point for the chronology of his mostly undated work.


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