Lot 64
Old Masters, Nineteenth Century & Early Modern Art | 16 November 2022
Cornelis Springer (1817-1891)

The Jewish Quarters in Amsterdam in winter

signed and dated 'C Springer ft 56' (lower right)

oil on panel, 41x34 cm

-Pieter A. Scheen, ‘Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750-1950', The Hague 1970, ill. no. 187.
-W. Laanstra, H.C. de Bruijn and J.H.A. Ringeling, ‘Cornelis Springer (1817-1891)’, Utrecht 1984, ill. p. 105, no. 56-10, as: ‘Een straatje in een Jodenbuurt bij winter'.

-Collection C.F. Roos, Amsterdam, acquired directly from the artist on 30 November 1856 for Dfl. 175.
-Auction, S.J. Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 26 May-5 June 1964, lot 461.
-With Kunsthandel Pieter A. Scheen, The Hague, August 1965, cat. no. XIX, no. 39, where acquired by the family of the present owners.

Please compare to two different, but similar, preparatory drawings by the artist:
I. Auction, Christie's, Amsterdam, 29 October 1997, lot 25, dated 25 October 1855 (40,5x34 cm)
II. Willem Laanstra, 'Cornelis Springer, Geschilderde Steden', Amsterdam 1994, ill. p. 116, as: 'Een straatje in een Jodenbuurt in Amsterdam bij winter', dated 1856 (34x28 cm).

Lots 56-83: A Distinguished Collection

When looking at this magnificent winter scene by Cornelis Springer, we are invited to use, apart from sight, all our senses. We are smack in the middle of the bustling Jewish quarters in Amsterdam and although the sounds are slightly muffled by the snow, we can hear the market people loudly announcing their ware, the buyers negotiating, the man pushing the sledge loaded with heavy barrels, groaning, and then there is the ever-present chattering and gossiping of the market visitors. It is a racket! It is cold too: a mother hides her hands under her cape while her son carries the groceries. The weak wintery sunlight shining in the background on the market stalls has been unable to warm her, but in the shadow of the buildings she feels the cold even more. Still, despite the cold, we see a window wide open on the left upper sight of the painting, revealing the very Dutchness of this painting, for the Dutch are known to be lovers of cleanliness and fresh air, even in the very heart of winter. And for this very reason they also hang the laundry outside in icy weather. Do you see the clothes hanging on the pole on the right-hand sight of the building? The blankets are also out to air, right over the open market stall in front, and will be frozen stiff when it is time to take them in.

This winter scene could be seen as a very appropriate illustration of a Charles Dickens book, but there is nothing in it that even touches the caricatural tone of a Dickens story. The realistic atmosphere is mostly due to the splendid and detailed architectural depiction of the buildings: every brick of every gable seems to have been scrutinously observed before being painted, and this is exactly what Springer did.

Springer’s keen interest in architecture was rooted in his upbringing, and in his later artistic education. His father was a carpenter/builder and Springer’s first official apprenticeship was with a decorative house- and carriage painter. His interest in drawing, especially perspective, was stimulated by his architect brother who gave him drawing lessons. To professionalize his drawing skills, Springer also took lessons at the Stadstekenschool. His first exhibition in 1834 was followed by a new apprenticeship in 1835 with the well-known and celebrated architectural painter Kasparus Karsen. It is Karsen who taught him the tricks of the trade of painting capriccio city views that were laced with topographically correct elements. However, from the 1850s onwards we see Springer losing the fantasy elements and focusing more on representing topographical locations in great detail. With his choice for more subtle and subdued colours and thus depicting a more realistic atmosphere, Springer soon outdid his former master. Continuing this path, Springer grew to become the townscape painter of his time.

Throughout his career he takes rather detailed notes of his artistic process so we know how meticulously he worked to get every exacting detail correct. He used to make numerous sketches on the spot which he later elaborated into full-scale compositions. In addition, he made detailed figure studies of the people and groups of people he wanted to portray before finally starting with the real painting job. This whole process could take months. The study for this painting, rendered in black chalk, immediately shows the virtuosity of Springer’s artistic talent.

The many Springer admirers who passionately applaud his excellent architectural painting skills are more than correct, but in their enthusiasm they often forget to mention Springer’s phenomenal compositional expertise. The present lot is an excellent example of his well-balanced compositions. By the vague glow of the wintery sunlight upon the white market stalls in the background, the spectator’s eyes are drawn into the street. With one or two touches of a whiter shade indicating the hoods of female buyers, Springer deepens the perspective even more, while the white tones of the background are well-balanced by the bright and untouched white snow on the roof in the foreground. Groups of people seem to be scattered randomly in the scene, but on second view are cleverly grouped to anchor the composition. The white laundry hanging in the air is contrasted by the black hanging streetlight, both breaking up the view and serving to give depth to the composition at the same time.

Time and time again Springer shows himself to be the master of perfection when it comes to architectural renderings, but also to be a true genius of perspective who knows how to create a totally convincing city view. With this lively scene Springer invites the viewer to join in Amsterdam’s nineteenth century street life. You will never know if this Christmas will be white, but with this great winter scene by Springer you can be sure of it.

-Willem Laanstra, ‘Cornelis Springer, geschilderde steden’, Amsterdam 1994.
-Willem Laanstra, ‘Cornelis Springer en het getekende stadsgezicht’ in : Tableau, 1989, no. 6.
-W. Laanstra, H.C. de Bruijn and J.H.A. Ringeling, ‘Cornelis Springer (1817-1891)’, Utrecht 1984.

€ 30.000,00
€ 50.000,00
€ 52.000,00

Hamerprijs: € 52.000