Some of the new acquisitions in the year 2001:

Philips (de) Koninck (Amsterdam 1619-1688 Amsterdam)
drawing:
The card players in pen and brown ink with brown and grey wash, monogrammed, 179 x 160 mm (inv. no. 2001-T.5)

Philips Koninck, son of a goldsmith, moved to Rotterdam around 1637 to study with his elder brother Jacob Koninck (1614/15- after 1690). He returned to Amsterdam in about 1641 but it is unclear whether he then actually joined Rembrandt's studio as claimed by Arnold Houbraken. However, his early work certainly demonstrates the influence of the famous painter. Philips Koninck is now primarily known for his landscapes but he also produced portraits and genre pieces.

The drawing acquired by the Fondation Custodia may be described as just such a genre piece. This type of drawing was not yet represented in the collection Frits Lugt. Werner Sumowski has dated the drawing to the early 1660s. It is comparable to similar drawings now in Hamburg, Leiden and St. Petersburg [Sumowski 1324, 1325, 1336]. The subject and the somewhat 'unrefined' style is typical of Koninck. With rapid and angular pen strokes, the artist has created a rather jocular scene showing three men playing cards in an inn. On the left we see two children at play and a barrel, presumably of beer. Such scenes reflect the strong influence of Adriaen Brouwer (1605/06-1638).


Anonymous artist (Dutch, latter half of the seventeenth century)
Portrait of René Descartes (1596-1650) brush and brown ink with brown wash, over a sketch in black chalk, some highlighting in white and partly incised with the stylus for transfer, 171x133 mm (inv. no. 2001-T.21)

For many years, the only indication of the existence of this drawing was to be found in the handwritten inventory of the Delft collector Valerius Röver (1686-1739), which lists a 'Portrait of Descartes, wash in bistre' by Rembrandt. When this portrait came up for auction in mid-2001, a note on the verso allowed its provenance to be traced to the Röver collection.

The drawing bears all the signs of a preparatory sketch for a print. A number of lines have been incised with the stylus for transfer to an engraving plate, while the ornamental border includes a cartouche (also incised) for an inscription. There is indeed a print after this sketch included in an edition of a Dutch translation of Descartes' Principia Pilosophiae of beginselen der wijsgebeerte (Amsterdam 1690). Unfortunately, the name of the designer of the print - certainly not Rembrandt - is not mentionned.

Jean-François Sablet (Morges 1745-1819 Nantes)
drawing:
Fishermen in an Italian landscape during a storm in brush and black ink, grey wash and heightened with white body-colour on blue-gray paper, signed, 410x540 mm (inv. no. 2001-T.25)

Jean-François Sablet moved to Rome in 1791, accompanied by his brother Jacques. Two years later the events in their country prompted them to return to Paris. Jean-François is best known for his portraits, including those of prominent citizens of Nantes, the city which became his home in 1805.

This drawing is thought to date from Sablet's Italian period when he was very much influenced by his brother's work. It is mounted on a page from a book, apparently a ledger, showing the date 1793. There are rather few surviving examples of Sablet's output during this period. The quality of the piece is exceptional compared to most of the artist's other work.
This drawing forms a valuable addition to the collection of late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French landscape drawings which has been assembled by the Fondation Custodia since the death of Frits Lugt. However, the drawing by Sablet has little in common with later French landscapes, which seeks to offer a more faithful representation of the atmosphere and the scenery observed by the artist. Here, Sablet tries to produce a more theatrical effect, even using greenish paper to this end.


François (Saint) Bonvin (Parijs 1817-1887 Saint-Germain-en-Laye)
Etching "Les instruments de l'eau-forte" 1861, 225 x 148 mm (inv. no. 2001-P.20)
 
François Bonvin is primarily known as a painter but during his career he also made several excursions into the world of the etching. Among the (few) known completed works is a series of six plates, printed by Auguste Delâtre in 1861 with the title Six eaux-fortes, dessinées et gravées par F. Bonvin, peintre. They are of the same style and subject as the artist's paintings, i.e. genre pieces and still-lifes. The title page acquired by the Fondation Custodia represents the instruments used in the etching process: a sheet of paper, the copper plate, bottles of acid, a funnel, the burin and a magnifying glass.

Bonvin produced this series of etchings at a time when this form of art became extremely popular in France, following a period in which the recently invented technique of lithography had been in favour. Bonvin allowed his series to be sold by the publisher Alfred Cadart (1828-1875), whose studio was often the meeting place for a number of prominent engravers including Antoine Vollon (1833-1900), Théodule Ribot (1823-1891), Adolphe Appian (1818-1898) and Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914). In 1862, Cadart founded the Société des Acquafortistes to promote the art of etching. However, Bonvin was never a member of this society. When his series was republished (with four additional plates) in 1871, it appeared in a separate folio.

Bibl.: Henri Béraldi, Les graveurs du XIXe siècle. Guide de l’amateur d’estampes modernes, vol. 2, Paris 1885, p. 164, cat. no 2/1 or 3/1; Gabriel P. Weisberg, Bonvin, Paris 1979, no 349.