Style of Jan van de Cappelle (18th or 19th century)
Oil on oak
13 3/8 x 19 1/2 in. (34 x 49.5 cm)
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Not on view
Cappelle's authorship of this awkward picture has been consistently doubted by the few scholars who have considered the question in recent decades. That the picture must be a later imitation was suggested independently by the collector Daan Cevat (verbal opinion, 1966), by The Met conservator Dorothy Mahon (2004; see Liedtke 2007), and by Horst Gerson (verbal opinion, 1976) when he stated that the painting might be by Andries Vermeulen (1763–1814).
Examination of the wood support also suggests a later date. The oak panel is beveled on three sides but is cut at the top, where the wood is thickest. Wood supports of the seventeenth century were beveled to reduce thickness at the edges so that the panel would fit into the shallow rabbet of a frame. Thus, it appears that the present panel was originally larger, and cut down for reuse. X-radiography reveals no other image below the paint surface, which makes it seem likely that the wood was borrowed from an old cabinet or piece of furniture.
It is impossible to say whether the now obscure signature dates from the same period as the painting. At different times in his career, Van de Cappelle signed his pictures "I V Capel," "I V Capelle," and "I V Cappelle," but the form "De Cappelle" is not found on authentic works. As Russell (1975) notes in her monograph, "both copies and imitations of pictures by Cappelle and his circle were produced throughout the eighteenth and well into the nineteenth century." No other version of the composition is known, and its design, with its wedge of ice and cottages aligned like carriages on a toy train, does not encourage the idea of a lost original. Comparison with winter scenes certainly by Cappelle underscores their much subtler conception and execution, and also confirms that the imitator had this artist in mind rather than Aert van der Neer or another seventeenth-century painter of similar subjects.
Gerson's mention of Vermeulen brings one closer to a likely date for The Met's picture and to its level of quality, although that artist's least impressive paintings are superior to this one. Original works strongly reminiscent of seventeenth-century winter landscapes date from throughout the next two hundred years; in addition to Vermeulen, painters such as Andries Schelfhout (1787–1870), Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803–1862), and Johann Bernard Klombeck (1815–1893) are among the many representatives. Within this long tradition the present painting seems most at home among works dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century.
[2016; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Inscribed (lower right): J.V DE CAPPELLE
Paul Mersch, Paris (until 1904; sold through Sedelmeyer[?] to Weber); Eduard F. Weber, Hamburg (1904–d. 1907; his estate sale, Lepke's, Berlin, February 20–22, 1912, no. 288, for 5,400 marks to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1912; sold for $4,000 to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1912–d. 1931)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
Nantucket. Kenneth Taylor Galleries. "Realism," June 26–July 31, 1949, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
Karl Woermann. Wissenschaftl. Verzeichnis der älteren Gemälde der Galerie Weber in Hamburg. 2nd ed. Dresden, 1907, pp. 232–33, no. 288, as by Jan van de Cappelle; provides a facsimile of the signature; states "1904 von Dr. P. Mersch (Sedelmeyer) aus Paris"; gives incorrect dimensions.
C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Vol. 7, Esslingen, Germany, 1918, pp. 229–30, no. 179, provides provenance information; gives same incorrect dimensions as Ref. Woermann 1907.
C[ornelis]. Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 7, London, 1923, p. 208, no. 179, incorrectly gives lower left as location of signature, and dimensions as 13 1/2 by 16 inches.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 23, as "painted very likely about the middle of the fiftieth".
"Friedsam Bequest to be Exhibited Next November." Art News 30 (January 2, 1932), p. 13.
Margarita Russell. Jan van de Cappelle, 1624/6–1679. Leigh-on-Sea, 1975, p. 90, no. 21, fig. 94, attributes it to an unknown follower of Van de Cappelle; questions the identification with Hofstede de Groot no. 179.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 124–25, no. 27, colorpl. 27, as Style of Jan van de Cappelle, dating from the eighteenth or nineteenth century