Jan Jansz. van de Velde III

Still life with a stoneware jug and smoker’s requisites

Oil on panel: 14.1(h) x 11(w) in /

35.9(h) x 27.9(w) cm

Signed bottom centre: Jan van de Velde fecit and dated 1650 on the jug

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BV 161

 

JAN JANSZ. VAN DE VELDE III

Haarlem 1620 – 1662 Enkhuizen

 

Still life with a stoneware jug and smoker’s requisites

 

Signed bottom centre: Jan van de Velde fecit and dated 1650 on the jug

Oil on panel: 14 1/8 x 11 in / 35.9 x 27.9 cm

Frame size: 20 x 17 ½ in / 50.8 x 44.4 cm

 

Painted circa 1650

 

Provenance:

Collection of Pierre-Edmond-Marie Le Boucq, Vicomte de Ternas (1866-1948);

his daughter Geneviève Le Boucq (1899-1962), who in 1924 married Olivier-Ferdinand de Blocquel de Croix de Wismes (b.1891);

their son Jehan de Blocquel de Croix de Wismes (b.1930);

by descent

 

 

A Still life on a plain wooden table: a grey stoneware jug with a pewter lid, to the right of which lies a sheet of paper, folded to hold tobacco; behind it, a damaged earthenware brazier holding smouldering ashes. In front lies a white clay pipe, out of which some hot tobacco has fallen. Two pieces which have broken off the pipe stem lie scattered on the table.

 

Jan Jansz. van de Velde was born in Haarlem where he was probably taught by his father, the well-known engraver, Jan van de Velde II, and perhaps by Roelof Koets I (1592/93-1655) or by another Haarlem still-life painter. He was first recorded on 6th June 1642 in Amsterdam, when he registered to marry Dieuwertje Willemsdr. Middeldorp. He was recorded as a painter from Haarlem, twenty-two years of age. Apparently the marriage was called off, but the couple registered anew on 4th April 1643. By that time the painter had turned twenty-three. Only a few data concerning his life have come to light. His adult career appears to have taken place entirely in Amsterdam. He must have remarried, as a Stijntje van Leenen was mentioned in 1688 as the widow of the painter Jan van de Velde. This marriage does not appear to have been recorded in Amsterdam, however. In 1662 – in which year the last dated works we know now originated – a painter Jan van de Velde was buried at Enkhuizen. The fact that the sister of Jan Jansz. van de Velde III, Geertruyda, was buried in the same grave in 1684 seems to confirm that the 1662 burial was indeed that of the still-life painter. The fact that several persons called Jan van de Velde were living in Amsterdam at the same time, including a tradesman of the same age, complicates biographical research, however.

 

The painting discussed here is a mature work by Jan Jansz. van de Velde. His two earliest known still lifes, painted at the age of about twenty, most probably still in Haarlem, are dated 1639. Both are fully in the Haarlem style of still-life painting of the second half of the 1630s, and particularly close to that of Roelof Koets I. A painting in Liberec, Czech Republic, from that year may in fact have been painted in collaboration with Koets. This suggests that Jan van de Velde was still living in Haarlem in 1639, while his parents had moved to Enkhuizen the previous year. From 1641 only one dated work by Jan van de Velde is known and none from 1642 and 1643. From 1644 onwards, he appears to have maintained a rather steady production of (dated) still lifes until his death in 1662. Little over forty signed examples, many of them dated, are known today. Signatures, simply ‘I V VELDE’ in the early Haarlem years, become elaborate with flourishes in Amsterdam, where he must have moved not long after 1639.

 

Until into the last century, van de Velde’s work had virtually fallen into complete oblivion. With the renewed appreciation for seventeenth-century still-life painting, and in particular for the so-called ‘monochrome banketje’ (monochrome meal still life) his work, which comes onto the market only relatively rarely, has become sought after.

 

While his earliest work was inspired by that of Roelof Koets, after his move to Amsterdam the work of Willem Claesz. Heda (1594-1680) appears to have been an important source of inspiration, but soon he developed an individual idiom of his own. Van de Velde’s earlier compositions are mostly rather elaborate. Simpler compositions with only a few objects only start to appear in his oeuvre in the late 1640s and they dominate it in the 1650s. In those compositions, one prominent upright object, a jug or a glass, usually placed off-centre, is surrounded by smaller items, against a relatively dark background, evoking serenity and stillness. An early example in Prague is dated 1647 (fig. 1), and a very similar work from the same year is known ([i]). It may well be that he was inspired by the smaller still lifes painted in Amsterdam by Jan Jansz. Treck (1605/06-1652).

 

A grey stoneware jug, the protagonist of this composition, is found regularly in Jan van de Velde’s still lifes. Such jugs of grey clay, decorated with a cobalt glaze, were produced in the Westerwald in Germany, north of Koblenz. The type was developed by potters in the village of Raeren and produced there and in Grenzau. The crest on its belly is that of the city of Amsterdam; these jugs appear to have been produced specifically for customers there, and in large numbers. Such a jug already appears in a still life by van de Velde from 1644 ([ii]). As prominently as in the present painting, van de Velde only appears to have represented it after 1650. This still life is not dated, but the jug bears the date 1650. It may well be that this indicates that this still life was indeed painted in 1650, or shortly after. However, on a signed and dated example in Minneapolis from 1658, the jug also bears the date 1650, although somewhat indistinctly (fig. 2). In contrast, a third example is distinctly dated 1658, both on the edge of the table, as well as on the jug (fig. 3). In any case, the present panting can be dated securely in the 1650s and if indeed from 1650, which seems quite likely, it is Jan van de Velde’s earliest example of this type. Like the jug, the other objects in the painting are also regular props in van de Velde’s compositions. He often placed a clay pipe horizontally, close to the edge of the table, as a bright horizontal counterpart to the most prominent vertical object. The pipe is often shown together with the brazier, which contains hot ashes on which the tobacco in the pipe could be ignited. It is always broken, but never in the same way; clearly the artist improvised on the shape. Presenting it broken enabled the painter to show the ashes prominently. Tobacco is shown by van de Velde in a paper wrapping, like here, in a tobacco box, as in fig. 3, or spilled on the table.

Jan Jansz. van de Velde’s still life of this type must have been quite popular at the time. This not only pertains from the fact that he painted several variants of them, but also from the fact that other painters adopted the theme, into the 1660s. One of the earliest known works by Edwaert Collier (c.1643-1708), from 1664 and probably painted in Haarlem, was clearly inspired by van de Velde’s example (fig. 4). Pieter Janssens called Elinga (1623-1683), working in Amsterdam from 1653 onwards, may well have been inspired by van de Velde’s work as well (fig. 5). A late work by the Amsterdam still-life painter Johannes Fris (1627/28-1672) almost seems to paraphrase the present work (fig. 6), while in 1665, Fris painted a still life that also prominently features a similar jug in a larger composition which also obviously must have been inspired by the work of Jan Jansz. van de Velde III ([iii]).                                  Fred G Meijer

 

 

 

 

1 Jan van de Velde III, signed and dated 1647, o/p,     2 Jan van de Velde III, signed and dated 1658, o/c,

40 x 31,5 cm. Prague, Narodni Galerie, inv. O-1392    40 x 31 cm. Minneapolis Institute of Art, inv. 72.79

 

 

3 Jan van de Velde III, signed and dated 1658, o/p,       4 Edwaert Collier, signed and dated 1664, o/p, 44 x

38 x 29,4 cm. Art market, 1990                                       34,5 cm. Private collection

 

  

5 Pieter Janssens called Elinga, previously signed, o/p,    6 Johannes Fris, signed, o/p, 37,8 x 29,2 cm. Private

43 x 33 cm. The Hague, Museum Bredius, inv. 44-1946   collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Oil on panel, signed and dated 1647, with Eugene Slatter, London, 1958, cat. no.9.

 

[ii] Oil on panel, 94.6 x 74.9 cm, signed and dated 1644, auctioned at Sotheby’s London, 9th July 2008, lot 59, colour illus. in catalogue.

 

[iii] The painting illustrated here is similar in style and handling to a painting by the artist from 1669, see online database RKDimages no. 108938. The example from 1665, oil on panel, 49 x 42 cm, was with Noortman & Brod, Maastricht/London, in 1984.

Old MasterJan Jansz. van de Velde III