Herman Henstenburgh

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Herman Henstenburgh
Vanitas Still Life
Opaque watercolor, selective gum arabic glazing, over black chalk, on parchment.
14 1/16 x 11 9/16 inches (357 x 294 mm)
Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund.

A near identical vanitas composition, distinguished primarily by different flowers, a recorder instead of a violin, and an ox-bone instead of an overturned hourglass, was on the London art market in 1977 as Cornelis van Spaendonck (1756-1840). Due to the floral subject-matter and the false "signature" inscribed at the lower left, the Morgan drawing was then attributed to Cornelis's older brother, Gerard van Spaendonck (1746-1822). However, the drawing is by the earlier master Herman Henstenburgh and comparable to a signed "Vanitas Still-life" in the Unicorno collection, The Hague (Inv. no. N 246). This is one of another near identical pair of memento mori images, with the skull turned in profile to the right; the related version, signed and dated 1698, is in the Westfries Museum, Hoorn (Inv. no. 00547/B 269a). In this case, the props (candle, overturned hourglass, and ox-bone) are also exactly the same, and only the flowers vary.


Inscribed at the lower left, on the edge of the table, by a later hand, in point of brush and red tempera, "Va: n Spaendonck ft ["t" in superscript]:".

H. Shickman Gallery, New York; acquired from Galerie Arnoldi-Livie, Munich.
Associated names: 

Spaendonck, Gerard van, 1746-1822, Formerly attributed to.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twentieth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1981-1983. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984, p. 301.
Jane Shoaf Turner, with contributions by Felice Stampfle, Dutch Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library: Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries, New York, 2006, cat. no. 379.

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