Lot 3
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Indonesian Art Sale | 8 September 2021
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Frans Lebret (1820-1909)

A Javanese landscape with an ox-drawn-cart near a bridge

signed, annotated and dated 'F. Lebret ft. Java 1863' (lower right)

watercolour on paper, 51x68 cm

Please compare to an oil painting by Lebret with the same composition, sold at Christie’s, Singapore, 26 March 1995, lot 558, as: ‘An Indonesian boy driving an ox-drawn-cart through a ford’.

Frans Lebret (1820-1909) was an artist from Dordrecht and highly regarded in the school of 19th Century Romanticism. He was taught by the painters Willem de Klerk and Hendrik Frederik Verheggen. He later worked together with C.J. de Vogel and candlelight painter Johannes Rosierse. Lebret became the painter of sheep par excellence. In 1863 he travelled to Indonesia - together with his brother Johan Hendrik - to his other brother, Gerrit, who had lived on East Java for 21 years as an administrator for the sugar factory Kedawoeng at Pasoeroea. The trip was a real journey around the world for the two brothers from Dordrecht. They travelled by train, which at that time was a hypermodern means of transport, to Marseille and from there by mail service across the Mediterranean to Alexandria in Egypt. Then by horse to the Red Sea, where from Suez they went by ship to Java, until they arrived at the ‘rede van Batavia’, the quay of Batavia. They rented a carriage to travel to Weltevreden, assisted by William Loudon. After a meeting with resident Wijnen, they travelled by steamship Penarang through to Surabaya, to go from there to brother Gerrit.

Lebret made many small drawings and sketches in sketchbooks. He later worked them out in sepia or watercolour, some of them even during the trip. These works give a charming image of the atmosphere in Java in those times. Once back in Dordrecht the brothers wrote a travelogue with dozens of pages: ‘Halaman Reize naar en over Java met de Overland-Maildienst der Messageries Imperiales’ (Halaman Travel to and about Java with the Overland Mail Service of the Messageries Imperiales'.) issued in Dordrecht in 1863. Their report was very recently, in 2017, published in the book ‘Op reis met pen en penseel, Frans en Jan Hendrik Lebret als toerist in Java 1863’ by A. Leussink and W. Sybesma. (Traveling with pen and brush, Frans and Jan Hendrik Lebret as a tourist to Java, 1863).

In this report the Lebrets describe the sugar and rice fields, the road to Blauwwater and the Tengger mountains, the ‘karbouwweg’ (road of the water buffalo) and much more. The brothers were amazed at all they saw. Frans always carried his sketchbook with him and made more than a hundred drawings: of the people and the landscapes, many with water buffaloes. Few of his drawings have been worked out in oil paint; from the watercolour with the ox cart that is currently up for auction, he made a large-sized oil painting which was auctioned in Singapore in 1995 for € 50,232.

Marjolein Regout Source: A. Glavimans, ’Twee Dordtenaren trokken naar Java, Batavia, Weltevreden, Buitenzorg, een reisjournaal’, Koninklijke Vereeniging Oost en West, in various issues of the magazine ‘Oost en West’, The Hague 1950.

€ 2.000,00
€ 3.000,00
€ 2.200,00

Hamerprijs: € 2.200

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