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The Kremer Collection Newsletter X


As of 21 January 2010 our Rembrandt, Old Man with Turban, hangs in the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam for a 2 year period, together with 3 workd by Rembrandt pupils, Gerrit Dou, Ferdinand Bol and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout. This loan was made possible through the kind cooperation of the Mauritshuis in The Hague.

From the Rembrandthuis website:

A real Rembrandt!


Paintings from the Kremer Collection in the Rembrandt House


Once again the Rembrandt House Museum has a true Rembrandt painting on permanent display. Since Rembrandt’s house became a museum and was returned as far as possible to its original state it has only been able to exhibit paintings by the famous painter for short periods. Now a real Rembrandt will be on display for two years in the Sael, Rembrandt’s former living room and bedroom. This has been made possible by a generous loan from the George and Ilone Kremer Collection. Not only have the Kremers lent their only Rembrandt to the museum for an extended period, they have also parted with a number of works by some of Rembrandt’s most important pupils.

‘From now on there will always be a true Rembrandt hanging in the Rembrandt House Museum!’ So said Janrense Boonstra, the new director of the Rembrandt House Museum, ushering in the New Year. His aim is make a visit to the Rembrandt House Museum an intense ‘Rembrandt experience’. In the house where Rembrandt lived and worked for almost twenty years, where many of his most famous masterpieces were created, modern-day visitors should be able to feel, sense and see the painter. But how can this be achieved without a real Rembrandt painting? The Rembrandt House has been a museum for almost a century, but it has never been possible to acquire an actual Rembrandt painting. And yet Rembrandt’s house was once full of work by contemporaries and pupils-Rembrandt was an art dealer as well as a painter-and, of course, his own paintings. The museum has now been restored as far as possible to the way it was when the artist still lived there and part of its extensive collection of Rembrandt’s etchings is on permanent display. However there were no paintings by the master. Happily, the Kremers’ generosity has changed this.

George and Ilone Kremer are proud of their collection of museum quality works by seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish artists, which they have collected over more than fifteen years. Their first and most beloved piece is Rembrandt’s Tronie of an Old Man in a Turban, which can now be seen in the Rembrandt House for two years. The Kremers want to convey their love and enthusiasm for art and the pleasure of collecting to others. They are doing this by not keeping their works to themselves; they collaborate on exhibitions with famous museums and loan their paintings. This allows a wide audience to enjoy the works in the Kremer Collection.

Rembrandt’s Tronie of an Old Man in a Turban now hangs in the ‘Sael’, Rembrandt’s living room and bedroom. Rembrandt painted this work in 1627-28, at the start of his career in Leiden. It is not a portrait, but a tronie: a study of a characteristic head, often in an imaginary or exotic costume. This was how Rembrandt practised capturing different poses and facial expressions, although even in his own day these studies were already extremely popular with collectors.

The Kremers have also loaned a number of masterpieces by well-known pupils of Rembrandt.

In Rembrandt’s living room (‘Sael’) there is a splendid canvas, Virgin and Child, by Ferdinand Bol (1616-80), one of Rembrandt’s most notable pupils.


The beautiful portrait of the nineteen-year-old Maria Dircksdr. Bogaert painted in 1670 by Rembrandt’s pupil and good friend Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-74), can also be seen in the ‘Sael’.

In the front room  of the Rembrandt House (the ‘Sijdelcaemer’), hangs a fine Self-portrait of 1645 by Gerard Dou (1613-75), in which the continuing influence of his former teacher Rembrandt is evident.


12 DOU

On December 19, 2009 the exhibition Judith Leyster – the first woman to become a master painter opened in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem (

Leyster total known oeuvre consists of some 20 paintings of which 11 are shown in Haarlem, including 2 of her masterpieces, Selfportrait (National Galery, Washington) and The young flute player (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm). We participate in the exhibition with our Still life with fruitbasket. Earlier the exhibition was shown at the National Gallery in Washington where it drew over 120.000 visitors. 



In our previous Newsletters VIII and IX we published some new additions to the Collection. Below are the entries written for 2 of these works. Over the next few weeks we will publish an additional 4 entries as these become available in English. All entries have been written by Lea van de Vinde and Quentin Buvelot respectively.

2009-04-20 Albert Cuyp small
Aelbert Cuyp
Dordrecht 1620-1691 Dordrecht
Landscape with a timber yard in Dordrecht 1639
Panel, 43 x 53 cm
Signed and dated at lower right, on the wooden planks: A. cuijp fecit / 1639

Provenance: Eugène Heimgartner, Geneva, 1925; sale London, Sotheby’s, 4 December 2008, lot 210, where acquired.

Literature: S. Reiss, Aelbert Cuyp, London 1975, p. 28, no. 3 (ill.); A.D. Chong,Aelbert Cuyp and the meanings of landscape (PhD thesis), New York 1992, pp. 170, 269, no. 5; A. Chong in P. Marijnissen et al. (ed.), De Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste stad, Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) 1992-1993, p. 132

Exhibitions: Rembrandt, a childhood dream: the Kremer collection, masterpieces of Dutch 17th-century painting, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2009 (ex catalogue)

Aelbert Cuyp is the best-known member of a family of painters from Dordrecht.(1) He was probably trained by his father, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594-1651/52), with om he would often work in the 1640s. Although Aelbert worked in diverse genres, including portraiture, figurative pieces, cattle pieces, and stable interiors, he was first and foremost a landscape painter. This painting from 1639, Landscape with a timber yard in Dordrecht, is among his earliest dated works. (2) After 1645, the painter evidently found it unnecessary to date his landscapes, and his later work can therefore be dated only approximately. The whereabouts of this painting were unknown for many decades. In December 2008 it turned up at an auction in England and was purchased by the Fondation Aetas Aurea, after which it underwent thorough restoration.(3) A truly delightful picture emerged from beneath the yellowed layer of varnish. Cuyp produced several other paintings in 1639, which are strikingly diverse in terms of style and subject-matter.(4)

While other early paintings display mountain motifs that may derive from Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630) and Hercules Segers (1589/90-1633/38), this work displays a flat, Dutch landscape, painted in a largely tonal style. Cuyp produced paintings of this kind under the influence of Jan van Goyen (1596-1656). The warm, southern sunlight that would characterise the best-known and most original part of Cuyp’s work, which he produced from around 1650 onwards, is not yet in evidence here. Still, the painter’s interest in rendering light is already clear. Especially near the walking figure in a striking red coat on the right, who has just crossed the little bridge where a dog is relieving himself, we see a sharply-defined patch of sunlight on the ground. The highly impressive cloudy skies, a characteristic feature of Cuyp’s later work, are also indicative of the powerful ambition of the painter, who was still young in 1639. Near the little boat with its figures, changes made by the artist are discernible: to the right of the boat, Cuyp initially painted a man standing on a raft and holding a pole. Later on, he painted these elements out; only now have they become visible again, with the ageing of the paint layers.

With its simple composition and inconspicuous staffage – aside from a few animals, we see figures in the boat and near the bridge – this work is rather in a category of its own in the artist’s oeuvre. In a timber yard, tree trunks have been collected in the open water; rafts are visible in the foreground. Contemporary maps show that there was indeed a timber yard in the Merwede, to the south of the Grote Kerk and between the gates Blauwpoort and Vuilpoort.(5) The painter would undoubtedly have seen this timber yard with his own eyes, although the subject of his painting also occurs in a work by Adam Willaerts, dating from 1629 (Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum).(6) Dordrecht’s timber trade dated from the Middle Ages, and for a long time the city had a monopoly on this lucrative activity. This painting recalls the great economic power of Dordrecht, which was long famous for its timber trade and the closely related shipbuilding industry. In the latter half of the seventeenth century, however, it lost this dominant role to other cities.(7)

The image is bounded on the right by a tall tree, which is cut off at the top by the edge of the picture. Beneath the superbly-executed clouds rises the characteristic skyline of Dordrecht, where Cuyp lived and worked his whole life. Cuyp did not die until 1691, but it is not known whether he painted much in the last thirty years of his life. In 1658 he married Cornelia Boschman (1617-1689), the wealthy widow of a patrician. After that he served in public office in a variety of positions, and it is generally assumed that he gradually gave up painting from then on.


Quentin Buvelot, January 2010

1 See A. Chong in J. Turner (ed.), The Grove Dictionary of Art. From Rembrandt to Vermeer: 17th-century Dutch Artists, London 2000, pp. 81-86; A.K. Wheelock et al.,Aelbert Cuyp, Washington (National Gallery of Art), London (National Gallery), Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) 2001-2002.

2 See A. Chong, ‘New dated works from Aelbert Cuyp’s early career’, The Burlington Magazine 133 (1991), pp. 606-612; P. Marijnissen et al. (ed.), De Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste stad, Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) 1992-1993, pp. 118-119, no. 15.

3 The restoration was carried out by Martin Bijl, Alkmaar.

4 Chong 1992, nos. 2-7.

5 Inter alia on a map by Joan Blaeu, dating from 1648; see Chong 1992, pp. 170, 269 and fig. 52. The location is also mentioned in old descriptions of the city.

6 A. Chong in P. Marijnissen et al. (ed.), De Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste stad, Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) 1992-1993, p. 132 and p. 136, fig. 4.

7 For Dordrecht’s timber trade, see Chong 1992, pp. 168-170.


Jan Miense Molenaer,
Haarlem 1609/10-1668 Haarlem
A boy smoking a pipe: Allegory of Taste, c.1628-1629
Panel, 31 x 21.3 cm


Provenance: Collection of Arthur Kay, London and Glasgow, before 1939; Georges Wildenstein (art dealer), New York, 1951; S. Nystad (art dealer), The Hague, 1952, shown at the fourth fine art and antiques art fair (IVe Oude Kunst- en Antiekbeurs), Delft, in 1952 (ill.); sale London (Christie’s), 3 May 1974, lot 111, to ‘Detry’ (ill.); sale Amsterdam (Sotheby’s), 11 November 2008, lot 29 (ill.), where acquired; since 2009 on loan to the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem

Literature: A. Kay, Treasure trove in art, Edinburgh 1939, fig. facing p. 33 (as Judith Leyster); D.P. Weller, Jan Miense Molenaer: Painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Raleigh (North Carolina Museum of Art) 2002, pp. 72-74 (ill.)

Exhibitions: Rembrandt, a childhood dream: the Kremer collection, masterpieces of Dutch 17th-century painting, Haarlem (Frans Hals Museum) 2009 (ex catalogue)

A boy smoking a pipe is likely to provoke an ambivalent initial response in a present-day viewer. The healthy flush in the boy’s cheeks, combined with his rather contemplative gaze and striking fur hat, give him an extremely appealing air. On the other hand, that he should be smoking a pipe at such a tender age – while still a child, in fact – will surely arouse astonishment. But this painting, by the Haarlem artist Jan Miense Molenaer, is not just a picture of a boy. It was originally one in a series of five paintings of children, each representing one of the five senses.(1) Series of this kind were extremely popular in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century.(2) So A boy smoking a pipe should not be taken as an indication that children started smoking at a remarkably young age in the seventeenth century: Molenaer’s painting of this delightful boy represents the sense of taste.

Little is known about Molenaer’s early career. His name is first recorded in the membership lists of St Luke’s Guild in 1634, but exactly when he first enrolled is unknown. It is generally assumed that he studied under Frans Hals (1582/83-1666). Both his loose but refined technique and his subject-matter (genre pieces and portraits) are very similar to this master’s work. Molenaer’s oeuvre also shares some common ground with other artists active in Haarlem, such as Adriaen Brouwer (1605/6-1638) and Willem Buytewech (1591/92-1624). Similarities can also be identified with the work of Judith Leyster (1609-1660), who may likewise have been one of Hals’s pupils, and who became Molenaer’s wife in 1636. A year later they moved to Amsterdam, probably to take advantage of the growing art market there. Over ten years later, in 1648, by which time the couple owned a country house in Heemstede, they returned to Haarlem with their children.(3)

Molenaer’s original oeuvre is characterised by fairly small genre pieces, populated by lively figures. He did not shy away from moralistic themes, but tackled them with characteristic humour. One well-known example is the 1636 series of the five senses, which is now in the Mauritshuis.(4) On five panels, each measuring just 19.5 x 24 cm, he painted small groups of figures sitting at a table, whose improper behaviour depicted the senses. Taste is represented by two peasants guzzling alcohol and smoking tobacco without any hint of moderation. In this small painting, both drinking and smoking are linked to the sense of taste, as in A boy smoking a pipe. Alcohol and tobacco are frequently depicted in seventeenth-century genre pieces.(5) They were also linked in contemporary literature, and were commonly defined as mutually reinforcing addictive vices.(6) In contrast to the 1636 painting Taste, Molenaer here decided to have a single figure depict both these activities – moreover, he chose a child. The boy’s thoughtful, almost philosophical gaze suggests that he is pondering the negative side of his behaviour. Molenaer may have been influenced by his famous teacher in his decision to use children to depict the senses. In the 1620s and 1630s, Hals painted many similar series of the five senses: half-figures of playful children, viewed against a neutral background. Molenaer’s series with children was evidently made in the same period.

The series of the five senses including A boy smoking a pipe was not preserved intact, like the one in the Mauritshuis. It was still complete in 1939, when the little paintings were all in the collection of Arthur Kay. At that time, these paintings – which are all unsigned – were attributed to Judith Leyster, but the current attribution to Molenaer has now been generally accepted.(7) It was not until after 1951, when the series was sold by the art dealer Wildenstein, that the works ended up in different collections:Hearing and Touch are now in the Phoenix Art Museum, while Smell and Sight were incorporated into private collections. The paintings are uneven in quality; A boy smoking a pipe displays greater refinement than the others. The subtle choice of colour and the loose but bold technique make this panel one of the highlights of Molenaer’s early oeuvre.


Lea van der Vinde, January 2010


1 The entire series is reproduced in D.P. Weller (ed.): Jan Miense Molenaer: Painter of the Golden Age, Raleigh (North Carolina Museum of Art) 2002, pp. 69-74, no. 3.

2 On the development of series depicting the five senses, see e.g. H. Kauffmann, ‘Die Fünf Sinne in der niederländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts’, inKunstgeschichtliche Studien für Dagobert Frey, Breslau 1943, pp. 133-157 and C. Schipper, Mit Lust unter den Händen: Darstellungen der fünf Sinne in der bildenden Kunst des 17. Jahrhunderts (PhD thesis), Utrecht 2000.

3 On Molenaer’s career, see Weller in Weller 2002, pp. 9-25; for his biography, see Van Thiel-Stroman in N. Köhler (ed.), Painting in Haarlem: The collection of the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem 2006, pp. 241-245.

4 See Q. Buvelot, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis: A Summary Catalogue, The Hague/Zwolle 2004, pp. 210-211, nos. 572-576.

5 Several examples can be identified in Molenaer’s oeuvre alone; see e.g. Weller 2002, pp. 62-68, 127-129, nos. 1-2, 21.

6 See D.P. Weller, Jan Miense Molenaer (c. 1609/10-1668): The life and art of a seventeenth-century Dutch painter (PhD thesis), Ann Arbor 1992, pp. 222-225.

7 See Weller 2002, pp.69-74, no. 3.