Saftleven, Herman

(Utrecht 1609 - 1685 Utrecht)

An extensive River Landscape

Oil on panel
45.7 x 63.3 cm
Signed and dated

€ 58.000,--
An extensive River Landscape
<p><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">- Collection Jean-Joseph Mesnet (?-?), Councilor at the Court of Aids, Paris</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">- Anonymous sale, Monaco (Sotheby&rsquo;s), 2 July 1993, no. 62</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">- Jacqui E. Safra (1940-), New York</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">- His sale, London (Christie&rsquo;s), 6 July 2023, no. 13</span></p> <div style="mso-element:endnote-list"><br /> <div style="mso-element:endnote" id="edn1">&nbsp;</div> </div>
<p><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">A broad water meanders through a mountainous valley. The real subject of the scene are the steep banks forming the d&eacute;cor for a multitude of picturesque motifs. A fortified settlement is perched atop the rocky cliff on the left. Peasants, hunters, traders and travellers make their way across the dramatically undulating landscape. Moored vessels are being unloaded and cargo is toiled ashore. On a sloping hill in the middle zone a company chats and enjoys a drink, wine or beer, near a ramshackle tavern. A man is pumping water in front of it. A comical aside is provided by the man releasing nature in a wooden toilet. A glowing sun shines down. The soft light evokes the relaxed mood of a summer afternoon.</span><span style="font-family: " times="" new="" font-size:="">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">Herman was born into an artistically gifted family and the third Herman of successive generations to become a painter. Like his older brother Cornelis (1607-81) and younger Abraham (1613-65), by whom no works have been preserved (1613-65), he was trained by their father, Herman Saftleven the Elder (sometimes called &lsquo;II&rsquo;; ?-1627). Herman moved to Utrecht around 1632, where he would stay for the rest of his life. He married Anna van Vliet the following year. He was quite active within the guild where he several times served as warden (1655, 1656 and 1665) and as dean (1657, 1658, 1666 and 1667). The city government regularly called on him, testifying to his acclaim and status. In 1648 Herman received 150 guilders for &lsquo;copies of the view of this city made by him and published in print&rsquo; and in 1669 he was paid for an engraving with a panorama of Utrecht. In his final years, he spent long periods at Vijverhof on the river Vecht where he portrayed botanical rarities for Agnes Block (1629-1704) from her celebrated garden in drawings. His daughter Sara Saftleven (1645-1702) became a flower painter as well. Despite his successes, Herman seems to have run into dire straits at the end of his life and after his death on 3 January 1685, his house and belongings were sold to pay his creditors.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">Herman&rsquo;s earliest paintings depict peasant cottages and landscapes, and date from the first half of the 1630s. From around 1635 onwards, Saftleven would specialize in landscape painting. A true protean artist, he initially explored a plethora of styles and landscape types. His chief sources of inspiration were Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594-1667), Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1598-1657) and Jan Both (1615-22-52). The Peace of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years&rsquo; War in 1648 allowed Dutch artists to safely venture into the Brandenburgian Lower and Middle Rhine regions. In great numbers they seized the opportunity, among them Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91), Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-74), Jacob Esselens (1627/28-87), Lambert Doomer (1624-1700) and Joris van der Haagen (c. 1615-69). Herman Saftleven followed the Rhine stream upwards to Basel.&nbsp;These masters recorded the enchanting Rhenish landscape in countless drawings. Using his sketches from life, Saftleven produced elaborate drawings which he kept in an album or sold as finished artworks. They were extensively praised by Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679).<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">In the 1660s, Saftleven made 37 such drawings for the topographical atlas of Laurens van der Hem (1621-78), to which also other artists, for instance Doomer and Esselens, were asked to contribute.The travel sketches determined Saftleven&rsquo;s subsequent career and artistic development in no small measure for they provided the very foundation of a new subgenre in landscape painting; the panoramic Rhine View, which Saftleven singlehandedly perfected in around 1650. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">To be sure, these Rhine views were not entirely a novelty. They hark back to the so-called Weltlandschaft, all-encompassing vista&rsquo;s first employed in the early sixteenth century by the pioneers of landscape painting such as Joachim Patinier (1475-80-1524), and brought to another flowering a century later by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) and Josse de Momper (1564-1635). Perhaps of even greater importance were the immensely popular prints of the Alps after Pieter Bruegel (1526-30-1569). Saftleven merged these traditions into a new singular genre, adding realism in terms of atmospheric refinement and an emphasis on the recognizable German-Rhenish character of the landscapes. The formula proved so successful that, living in Utrecht, Herman continued to paint these German Rhenish reveries for the rest of his life. They were in turn widely imitated by several generations of artists, well into the nineteenth century, at home but in Germany as well.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">Although Saftleven possessed numerous faithful visual accounts of actual sites on the Rhine thanks to his sketches made on the spot, his paintings are usually imaginary, sometimes arbitrarily combining actual topographic motifs. For the Dutch audience topographic verisimilitude obviously was of secondary importance. In the first place, the viewers will have been enthralled by Saftleven&rsquo;s views because of their splendid mountains and intriguingly outlandish character. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">This Rhine view is a splendid example of Saftleven&rsquo;s mature production. The viewpoint is relatively low, lending a monumental quality to the verdant hills. The great amount of detail and high finish make this panel a jewel. The skillful use of figures to enliven the landscape demonstrates Saftleven&rsquo;s talent as a keen observer and narrator.<span style="mso-spacerun:yes">&nbsp;&nbsp; </span><o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;line-height:normal"><b><span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="">Notes<o:p></o:p></span></b></p> <div style="mso-element:endnote-list"><!--[if !supportEndnotes]--><br clear="all" /> <hr align="left" size="1" width="33%" /> <!--[endif]--> <div style="mso-element:endnote" id="edn1"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-family:" times="" new="">For Saftleven&rsquo;s travels see: H. Gerson, <i>Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holl&auml;ndischen Malerei des 17. </i></span><i><span style="font-family:" times="" new="">Jahrhunderts</span></i><span style="font-family:" times="" new="">, Amsterdam 1983, pp. 206-07.<o:p></o:p></span></p> </div> <div style="mso-element:endnote" id="edn2"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span style="font-family:" times="" new="">&lsquo;Op het KUNSTBOEK van Herman Zachtleven, vermaert schilder en tekenaer.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span style="font-family:" times="" new="">Lust het iemant ZACHT te LEVEN / Lucht te scheppen naer zijn&rsquo; wil, / Die blijft t&rsquo;huis, gerust en stil : / Hy kan stil den Rijn opstreven, / Van out Uitrecht, en den Dom; / Tusschen d&rsquo;oevers van de stroomen, / Zich verlustigen alom, / Sloten, steden, en landouwen, / Kudden, vee, en dorp, en vlek, / Akkers, en gebuurte, en hek, / Bron, en waterval aenschouwen, / In zijn kamer, zoo hy maer / opsla deze kunstpapieren, / Zoo vol levens, zoo vol zwieren, / Dat Natuur by wijlen daer / Stom staet, toornigh, en verbolgen, / Over dat, en over dit, / Over zwert, en over wit, / Licht en schaduw, snel in &rsquo;t volgen / Van haer wezen: kan de Kunst / Kan de hant van dezen trekker / My dus volgen tot den Nekker? / Heeft gem Pallas met haer gunst / En genade dus bescheenen? / Zeker laat de vlugge Faem / Dan braveeren met zijn&rsquo; naem: Laet hem dan zijn&rsquo; naem vry leenen / Van het LEVEN: want hier leef / Wat hy trekt met duim en vingeren / Los en levendigh in &rsquo;t slingeren, / Dat de bladen leven geeft. / Wie verdriet het op dees blaren, / Dus den Rijnstroom op te vaeren?&rsquo;, <i>J. V. Vondels Po&euml;zy of verscheide gedichten &hellip;</i>, 2 vols., Franeker 1682, pp. 359-60.<o:p></o:p></span></p> </div> <div style="mso-element:endnote" id="edn3"> <p class="MsoEndnoteText"><span lang="EN-US" style="font-family:" times="" new="">These are nowadays in the famous Atlas van der Hem, Vienna, &Ouml;sterreichische Nationalbibliothek (inv. 389030-F).<o:p></o:p></span></p> </div> </div>

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