Gerson Digital : Denmark

RKD STUDIES

6.3 The Acquisitions of 1763

Even if Morell bought further paintings for the royal collection in subsequent years, it is only with his acquisitions of 1763 that pictures are documented by various lists by his hand. In his acquisition lists Morell himself specifies two provenances for a small part of his purchases, identifying them with the supplementary information ‘Valentin’ and ‘Lormier’. These may readily be related to the collections of Cardinal Valenti and the ‘gentleman dealer’ Willem Lormier (1682-1759). Both men deserve detailed consideration. Silvio Valenti (1690-1756) [1] was a scion of the Gonzaga dynasty in Mantua and had represented the Curia as papal nuntio in Brussels from 1730 to 1736 and then, in Rome, until 1739. Especially while in Brussels he seized the opportunity to acquire Dutch and Flemish art. After his return to Rome, the diplomat, who had in the meantime been decorated with Cardinal purple, became the secretary of state of Pope Benedict XIV. His villa in Rome housed not only his growing collection of paintings and library, but also became a meeting place for artists and scholars.1 After Valenti’s death in 1756, his nephew Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga inherited the greater part of the inventoried collection, which subsequently remained in Italy. In 1763, however, 300 of the 832 paintings were sold at two Amsterdam auctions.2

1
Pierre Subleyras
Portrait of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (1690-1756), c. 1745
canvas, oil paint 128 x 98 cm
Rome, Galleria Cini

Both art dealers and agents for the great European collections acquired works on the two occasions. One of the buyers, among which the Amsterdam dealer Pierre Yver (1712-1787) stands out, was Gerhard Morell. His purchases have been documented at least twice, by his list of acquisitions and also by his annotated catalogue of the auction of 18 May 1763. At 659 fl. a Holy Family by Giulio Romano/Francesco Menzocchi was the most expensive item. Next, at 500 fl. each, came two paintings by Luca Giordano (now attributed to Paolo de Mattheis), Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel [2-3]. In order of the sale prices followed The Seven Works of Misericordia by Bartolomeo Schidone (210fl.) and a Matthew by Perino del Vaga (205fl.) [4] One step lower came Annibale Carracci‘s Baptism of Christ (85 fl.) and Andrea Mantegna‘s Christ (as Saviour) with Two Angels (51fl.) [5]. Still more reasonably priced was Parmigianino‘s Portrait of Lorenzo Cybo (26fl.) [6].

4
Perino del Vaga
The apostle Saint Matthew with a donor,
panel, oil paint 171,5 x 96 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp11

2
Paolo de Matteis
Cain killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4: 8),
canvas, oil paint 206 x 153 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp64

3
Paolo de Matteis
Adam and Eve lamenting the dead Abel,
canvas, oil paint 206 x 153 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp64

5
Andrea Mantegna
Christ supported by Angels; An Angel Pietà, c. 1450
panel, tempera 78 x 48 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp69

6
Parmigianino
Portrait of Lorenzo Cybo (1488-1556), dated 1523
panel, tempera 126,5 x 104,5 cm
lower right : Ann. M.D.X.X.I.II
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp73

In 1763 Morell purchased another important work of the Italian Renaissance, namely Filippo Lippi‘s Laban with Rachel and Jacob, while in the Republic, in this instance in The Hague and from the renowned Lormier collection.3 Aside from this picture, the acquisitions were especially works by ‘newer’ Dutch masters of the late 17th and 18th centuries. The most expensive of these works, at 215fl., was Christ before Pilate by Arnold Houbraken [7]. At 105½fl. each followed Gerard Hoet’s Death of Dido [8] and Death of Antiochus (since identified as Alceste and Admet) [9]. Also from the Lormier collection are two portraits by Eglon van der Neer (now given to Van Mieris) of the artist and his wife for 81 fl. each as well as two genre pictures (Woman with Maid and Man with Maid) by Abraham van der Eyk for 21 fl. each [10-11]. With the exception of Houbraken, Morell had already acquired works by all of these painters of the so-called ‘silver age’ of Dutch painting for the royal collection. Because of the great publicity given to this collection by the three-volume catalogue by Gerard Hoet, the indications of price by Morell correspond closely to the known sales figures.

9
Gerard Hoet (I)
Death of Alcestis: she generously consents to die instead of her husband Admetus,
panel, oil paint 43,5 x 62 cm
lower left : G. Hoet
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp640

8
Gerard Hoet (I)
Dido's death,
panel, oil paint 43,5 x 62 cm
lower right : G. Hoet
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp639

7
Arnold Houbraken
Christ before Pilate,
panel, oil paint 60 x 75 cm
lower center : A Houbraken. inv, efc.
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp664

10
Abraham van der Eyk
Lady with her servant in a window, dated 1709
panel, oil paint 33,5 x 27,5 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp683

11
Abraham van der Eyk
Man with his servant in a window, dated 1709
panel, oil paint 33,5 x 27,5 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp682

However, the prominent acquisitions from the Valenti Gonzaga and Willem Lormier collections only represented a small part of the pictures purchased by Morell in 1763. A further indication of provenance, ‘Snell’, leads to additional discoveries. Thus on 11 and 12 July 1763 the collection of Grand Pensionary Jacob Snels (1608-1654) of Gouda [12] was auctioned in The Hague together with supplementary pictures from the collection of Baron Nicolaus von Deneke von Nienlande (1709-1772) [13].4

12
Anoniem Noordelijke Nederlanden (historische regio)
Portrait of Jacob Snels (1608-1654),
panel, oil paint 75 x 61 cm
Private collection

13
attributed to Jean Fournier
Portrait of the family of Nicolaus von Deneken von Nienlande (1709-1772) and Eleonora Constantia van Belle (1694-1756),
canvas, oil paint 135 x 104 cm
Private collection

14
attributed to Gerard Donck or attributed to Simon Kick and attributed to Frans de Hulst
Portrait of Burgomaster Cornelis Damasz. van der Gracht and his wife Jopken Jacobs in a landscape, c. 1635-1638
panel, oil paint 76 x 106,5 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp376

The majority of the works auctioned were landscapes by Jan van Goyen (since given to Donck and Hulst) [14], Esaias van de Velde, Godfried Schalcken, Jacobus van der Hagen, Allaert van Everdingen and Abraham Begeyn, as well as portraits and genre paintings by Jan Steen (an Old Miser) [15], Hendrik van Vliet (Old Soldier: Old Man, Woman and Youth according to Morell) [16], Johannes Mijtens [17], Michiel van Mierevelt (three-quarter length portrait now attributed to Wybrand de Geest) [18] and Cornelis Saftleven, which, except for the Northern Landscape by Van Everdingen (20fl. 15 st.) [19] all fetched fewer than 10 florins each.

From 1762-1764 Morell diversified from purchasing further pictures. He also established the so-called New Gallery, besides the Kunstkammer and the decorated castle rooms. The expenses are documented in the administration concerning the construction, the installation, transportation and restoration of pictures, and arrangement of the rooms of the gallery.

15
Jan Steen
A miser surprised by Death, 1654-1656
panel, oil paint 52,5 x 42 cm
left center : JSteen
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp585

16
Hendrick van Vliet
An old man with a gorget, an old woman reading and a boy with a coin, dated 1647
panel, oil paint 107 x 86 cm
lower left : H. Van Vliet / 1647
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp357

17
Johannes Mijtens
Portrait of an unknown man, 1650 (dated)
panel, oil paint 31,5 x 24 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. 974

18
Wybrand de Geest (I)
Portrait of a man,
panel, oil paint 95 x 67 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp349

19
Allaert van Everdingen
Norwegian rocky landscape with waterfall and river valley, dated 1647
canvas, oil paint 82,5 x 111 cm
bottom left of the middle : A. EVERDINGEN 1647
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. KMSsp513


Notes

1 For instance, Olsen 1951 and Olsen 1961; Slive 1987; Morselli/Vodret 2005.

2 Lugt no. 1296, auction Amsterdam (de Leth/de Winter) 18 May 1763: Valenti; Lugt no. 1320, auction Amsterdam (De Winter) 28 September 1763: Valenti.

3 Lugt no. 1307, auction The Hague (Francken) 4 July 1763: Willem Lormier.

4 Lugt no. 1310, auction The Hague (Francken) 11-12 July 1763: Jacob Snels, baron van Deneke.

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