Herman Saftleven

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Herman Saftleven
View of Houses along the Walls of Montfoort
Black chalk and brown wash.
14 3/8 x 11 3/8 inches (365 x 295 mm)
Bequest of Alice F. Steiner.

Saftleven grew up in Rotterdam in a family of artists and trained as a painter, probably with his father. As a young man he settled in Utrecht and for many years recorded views of the city and its suroundings in numerous drawings and prints. Beginning in 1661 he was commissioned by the horticulturalist Agnes Block (1629-1704) to make watercolor drawings of flowers from her renowned botanical collections at her country estate near Utrecht. Saftleven was a prolific draftsman, and more than 1,200 drawings of topographical and imaginary landscapes have survived. Most are large, finished works executed for collectors, such as the present sheet. His painted and drawn landscapes made him one of the best-known Dutch artists of the seventeenth century. The present drawing, which may be dated around 1650, likely was a souvenir of an excursion to Montfoort, a town on the Hollandse IJssel River, eight miles west-southwest of Utrecht. It must have been executed at the same time as a view of Montfoort in the Library's collection with which it has traditionally been paired (1958.19). In addition to that drawing, our new sheet joins three others by the artist in the Library's collection, including a study of flowers and plants made on commission from Agnes Block (1984.10).


Inscribed in brown ink at upper center, "te Montfort", and at lower left corner, "de Machy".
Watermark: Foolscap with seven points, over "4" and three balls.

P. & D. Colnaghi and Co., London, 1965, no. 71; Bernard Houthakker, Amsterdam, 1965, no. 59, repr.; sale, Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1973, lot 118, repr.; sale, Mak van Waay, Amsterdam, 29 October 1979, lot 208, repr.; from which acquired by John and Alice Steiner, Larchmont, New York (Steiner no. 275); Alice F. Steiner, Lee, Massachusetts (on deposit with the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts).
Associated names: 

Houthakker, Bernard, 1884-1963, former owner.
Van Waay, Mak, former owner.
Steiner, John, former owner.
Steiner, Alice, former owner.


Wolfgang Schulz, Herman Saftleven 1609-1685, Leben und Werke, Mit einem kritischen Katalog der Gemälde und Zeichnungen, Berlin and New York, 1982, no. 621, and pp. 73-74, as location unknown.
Felice Stampfle, Rubens and Rembrandt in Their Century: Flemish and Dutch Drawings of the 17th Century from The Pierpont Morgan Library, exh. cat., 1979-80, under no. 87.
Jane Shoaf Turner and Felice Stampfle, Seventeenth to Nineteenth Century Dutch Drawings in The Pierpont Morgan Library, forthcoming.

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