Caspar Netscher (Dutch, Heidelberg 1639?–1684 The Hague)
Oil on canvas
19 3/4 x 17 3/4 in. (50.2 x 45.1 cm)
Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889
Not on view
Netscher's scenes of fashionable figures in luxurious interiors date mostly from the mid-1660s. This one has been placed convincingly about 1665. The subject of courting couples, the figure types, the attention to fine fabrics, the arrangement of the furniture (especially the matching stool and chair), and the dog are all indebted in some degree to the artist's teacher, Gerard ter Borch. As in The Suitor's Visit of about 1658 by Ter Borch (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Netscher himself appears to have served as a model for one of the suitors here, the seated man.
Although not involved in the card game, the tall beauty to the left may be described as the center of attention. She is addressed by a male companion but concentrates on the fluffy lapdog. The love triangle of mistress, suitor, and spaniel recalls that in Frans van Mieris's Teasing the Pet of 1660 (Mauritshuis, The Hague), which influenced a number of contemporary painters. In The Met’s picture, the color of the dog's coat, his earnest eyes, and perhaps the pointing nose and floppy ears underscore a comparison with the young lady's admirer. Some comment on the male visitors also may be detected in the seated woman's smile at the viewer.
Netherlandish images comparing courtship with card-playing and other games of chance date back to the first half of the sixteenth century. In older examples, various transgressions are symbolized, but here the cards, like the theorbo and songbook on the chair to the left (the instrument's case, now nearly invisible, is behind the couple to the right), and the wine decanter and glass on a tray on the table, are mere props in a scene that is understood almost entirely in terms of gestures, expressions, and poses. No one surpassed Ter Borch in observing social behavior, but Netscher was sometimes a worthy follower.
The subjects of the simulated reliefs on the back wall, which in the Netherlands would likely have been grisaille on canvas, have not been identified previously. The oval composition depicts a victorious rider with a fallen figure beneath a rearing horse. This motif descended from Roman coins and Renaissance designs for equestrian monuments to seventeenth-century sculptures and prints. The other relief is nearly indecipherable, but appears to represent a scene of sea gods, perhaps the Triumph of Venus. It is likely that both images suggest the subjugation of men.
[2017; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (on stretcher of stool): CNetsch[er] / 66[ ]
Johan van Schuylenburg, Haarlem (until 1735; his sale, The Hague, September 20, 1735, no. 56, for fl. 400); ?Pierre-Louis-Paul Randon de Boisset, Paris (until 1777; his estate sale, Remy & Julliot, Paris, February 27ff., 1777, no. 141, for Fr 2,800); Philip Hill (in 1811; his sale, Christie's, London, January 26, 1811, no. 36, for £84, bought in); Colonel Hugh Baillie, Tarradale, Jedburgh, Roxburgh, Scotland (by 1829–58; his sale, Christie's, London, May 15, 1858, no. 10, as by Eglon van der Neer, for £161.14 to Nieuwenhuys); [C. J. Nieuwenhuys, London, until d. 1883; his estate sale, Christie's, London, July 17, 1886, no. 80, as by Netscher, for £278.5 to Colnaghi]; [Colnaghi, London, 1886]; [Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1886; sold to Marquand]; Henry G. Marquand, New York (by 1886–89)
London. British Institution. June 1829, no. 187 (lent by Col. Hugh Baillie).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Collection of Dutch and Flemish Paintings by Old Masters, Owned by Mr. Charles Sedelmeyer," Winter 1886–87, no. 9 (as "La partie de Piquet," lent by Henry G. Marquand).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Exhibition of 1888–89," 1888–89, no. 31 (as "A Game of Picquet").
Nashville. Fisk University. "[title not known]," April 20–August 15, 1951, no catalogue.
Atlanta University. "[title not known]," September 1, 1951–January 30, 1952, no catalogue.
New Orleans. Dillard University. "[title not known]," February 1–April 30, 1952, no catalogue.
New York. American Federation of the Arts. "Little Masters in 17th Century Holland and Flanders (circulating exhibition)," 1954–57, no catalogue.
St. Petersburg, Fla. Museum of Fine Arts. "Dutch Life in the Golden Century," January 21–March 2, 1975, no. 35.
Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Dutch Life in the Golden Century," April 4–May 4, 1975, no. 35.
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.
Gerard Hoet. Catalogus of Naamlyst van Schilderyen, met derzelver pryzen, zedert een langen reeks van Jaaren zoo in Holland als op andere Plaatzen in het openbaar verkogt. Vol. 1, The Hague, 1752, p. 450, no. 56, as sold for 400 guilders in the Van Schuylenburg sale of 1735.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 4, London, 1833, p. 149, no. 10, as in the collection of Colonel Hugh Baille; erroneously as engraved by Lépicié (actually Ter Borch's "Two Women and a Man Playing Cards," Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and as in the Julienne sale of 1767 and the Montribloud sale of 1784 [see Ref. Gudlaugsson 1959–60].
Charles Blanc. Le trésor de la curiosité. Vol. 1, Paris, 1857, p. 140, wrongly identifies it as the picture engraved by Lépicié as "Le Jeu de piquet".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hand-Book No. 10: Collection of Old Masters and Pictures of the English School in the New Eastern Gallery, O. [New York], , pp. 3–4, no. 2, gives provenance, including some incorrect information repeated from Ref. Smith 1833.
Illustrated Catalogue of 300 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English Schools. Paris, 1898, p. 114, no. 97, ill. p. 115, repeats Smith's [see Ref. 1833] erroneous information.
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. 5, London, 1913, p. 191, no. 126, gives provenance, including some incorrect information repeated from Ref. Smith 1833.
S[turla]. J. Gudlaugsson. Gerard ter Borch. The Hague, 1959–60, vol. 2, p. 158, under no. 145, notes that Smith (1833) and Hofstede de Groot (1913) confused the painting with the Ter Borch engraved by Lépicié.
Franklin W. Robinson. Dutch Life in the Golden Century. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Fla. St. Petersburg, Fla., 1975, pp. 49–50, no. 35, ill., wrongly as dated "_ _66".
Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 36.
Marjorie Elizabeth Wieseman. "Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth Century Dutch Painting." PhD diss., Columbia University, 1991, pp. 325–26, no. 48, records a "hasty compositional sketch" in the Prentenkabinet de Rijks Universiteit, Leiden, and a more developed drawing for the composition in the Louvre.
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 518–20, no. 133, colorpl. 133; vol. 2, p. 743.