Sotheby’s to Auction Saam and Lily Nijstad Collection of Old Master Paintings

. April 15, 2011 . 0 Comments

Sotheby’s London will auction the collection of Old Master Paintings, on Thursday 7th July 2011, formed by Saam & Lily Nijstad over the last four decades. Saam Nijstad was for many years a leading dealer in Dutch Old Masters based in The Hague, but he and his wife were also passionate collectors for nearly sixty years. Assembled with care and knowledge, the collection of 38 lots is estimated to fetch in excess of £2 million.

Speaking about the sale, George Gordon, Sotheby’s Co, Chairman, Old Master Paintings and Drawings Department, commented, “Saam Nijstad established a distinguished reputation in the trade for his expertise and eye for the highest quality works in his field, and this is reflected in the wonderful collection that he and his wife Lily assembled privately. As in their approach to collecting Old Master Drawings, Saam and Lily built a collection of ‘quality, not pretension’, collecting works they really liked rather than buying systematically, resulting in a group of works that are particularly appealing and that we feel honoured now to offer for sale.”

Saam and Lily first met in 1945 and then got to know each other again in The Hague in 1948, when they married, and “after a short time they “discovered each others love for Dutch 17th century pictures”, as Saam wrote last year. Their collection of drawings, assembled over the course of fifty-five years, was sold at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam in 2004. They decided last autumn to sell their paintings collection with Sotheby’s, and Saam wrote an introduction to the catalogue, but sadly he succumbed to pneumonia in January.

In the introduction Saam explains,“We are now selling our collection of paintings, which we loved so much. . . With pleasure and satisfaction I think back to those countries in North America North America North America, where I bought . . . nearly always pictures from the 17th Century. Lily joined me many times and together we enjoyed our proud collection”.

The core of the collection consists of Dutch 17th Century paintings, of which perhaps the most delightful is a work by Michiel van Musscher (estimate £300,000-400,000*), which at first glance appears to be a characteristic domestic genre interior, with a mother and two young children. On the back wall, however, halfhidden, is a self-portrait of the artist – in fact the very self-portrait by Van Musscher that Saam Nijstad sold to the Rotterdam Historical Museum in 1979 – and this scene of domestic happiness which he surveys portrays his wife, Eva Visscher, and their two children, Jan and Michiel. Unusually, it is very precisely dated, to the 30th March 1683.

The Nijstad’s collecting tastes were eclectic, and by no means limited to the art of their native land. Occupying pride of place on the end wall of the drawing room in their apartment was a most engaging portrait by Santi di Tito, Portrait Of Lucrezia, Daughter Of Nicolò Di Sinibaldo Gaddi, Standing In Her Garden With a Macaw and a Jerboa. Estimated at £150,000-200,000, the painting depicts a young girl dressed especially for the occasion and standing in the courtyard garden of a palazzo, proudly feeding cherries to her Macaw, with her pet Jerboa at her feet. She is Lucrezia, daughter of a leading

Florentine, Niccolò Di Sinibaldo Gaddi, whose love for botany and passion for exotic animals and fruit was second only to the Medici, and she is portrayed in the garden of the Palazzo Gaddi in Florence, a stone’s throw from the church of Santa Maria Novella, where the Gaddi family had a chapel, and whose campanile is visible in the painting.

Image: Michiel van Musscher (1645 – 1705), An Interior Scene with Eva Visscher, the Artist’s Wife, with a Child in Her Lap and another Child in a Cot, Beside them a Dog. Estimate: £300,000 – 400,000

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Category: Fine Art

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