View of Noordwijkerhout, with the Witte Kerk

cat06dub-oisGuillam DU BOIS

Haarlem 1625 – 1680 Haarlem

View of Noordwijkerhout, with the Witte Kerk

Brush in gray ink over traces of black chalk, red chalk; dark brown ink framing lines.

115 x 188 mm (4-1/2 x 7-3/8 in).

WATERMARK: none. (R6)
CHAIN LINES: vertical, 22-23 mm.
INSCRIPTIONS: annotated noortwykr hout at upper left (pen in brown ink, 17th century?); verso, at lower center Noortwykr hout (pencil); at lower left za f 880.8   f14- (pencil).
PROVENANCE: C. G. Boerner, Düsseldorf, 1962.

Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam, 1965.

Sale, Amsterdam, Sotheby Mak van Waay, 3 May 1976, lot 101.

Sale, Amsterdam, Christie’s, 15 November  1993, lot 100, acquired at the sale.

LITERATURE: Giltay 1977, p. 159, note 50.
EXHIBITIONS: Cat. Amsterdam 1965, no. 57 (illus.).

Robinson, Franklin W. and Peck, Sheldon. Fresh Woods and Pastures New: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Landscape Drawings from the Peck Collection. Chapel Hill/ Ithaca/ Worcester. 1999-2001. Published catalogue.

This drawing, which Jeroen Giltay dates 1646-1650, makes an interesting comparison with the previous work, also by Du Bois. Although the buildings and trees of Noodwijkherhout still cluster together as before, the foliage is more open and impressionistic, there is more variation of light and shadow, and clouds scud across the sky.

Nevertheless, these two drawings are more closely related, at least in subject, than they first appear.  Although these particular sheets (with different recent provenances) are not pendants, two similar paintings exist that, in fact, are pendants; one shows a church among trees and houses on the right, and a road in the left foreground, and the other depicts a simple cottage in the left foreground, with a road on the right leading back toward other houses and trees.  Both paintings, on panel, are the same size (32.5 x 36.5 cm), and they were together in their one known sale, from the D. Komter collection (Amsterdam, Mak, March 9, 1926, no. 51).  These pendants, so different in subject, are a good reminder that other such pairs by Du Bois may have been separated over the years. (Related paintings are in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, and the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.)

This church was rebuilt in the early 17th century after the Spanish attacked it in 1573; interestingly, the ruins of the previous church were left standing, abutting the  apse of the new church.  This created an unusual juxtaposition that was often the subject of topographical prints and drawings by a series of artists, including Jan van Goyen.

This drawing of a modest, rural church is a reminder of the Dutch rage for documentation; in the 17th century Netherlands, there was an openness to new ideas, in science, commerce, engineering, and other fields, a fascination with the visible world, whether buildings and cities or botany and astronomy, which led to an extraordinary demand for works of art that recorded that world.  Prints and drawings were the most common and most affordable form of documentation, and drawings had the further distinction of offering not just uniqueness but the freshness and spontaneity of being at the artist’s elbow as he created the work.