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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte To Headline Sotheby’s Sale

Sotheby’s Amsterdam announced that its forthcoming sale of Old Master Paintings in Amsterdam on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 will be led by two important, newly-discovered still lifes by the much sought-after Dutch artist, Adriaen Coorte (circa 1665 – after 1707). Both works have recently re emerged on to the market having been hidden away in a Dutch family collection for more than a century. The owner found them in a cupboard, and curious to see if they had any value, called Martine Lambrechtsen of Sotheby’s in Amsterdam, and described them to her. Realising their likely importance, Martine immediately made an appointment to go and see the works and was, within a few hours of receiving the call, able to confirm that they are indeed masterpieces by one of Holland’s most intriguing Masters. They are each estimated at €100,000 to 150,000.

Adriaen CoorteWorks by Adriaen Coorte – a painter of outstanding quality and originality – are rare to the market, and few museums possess his works. At the time of the major Adriaen Coorte exhibition in the Mauritshuis in Den Haag last year, only 64 paintings were known of him, to which these two pictures are major additions. The two paintings – one entitled Still life of a peach and two apricots and the other Still life of strawberries in an earthenware bowl – are highly representative of Coorte’s simple and distinctive style and they come to auction in fine, untouched condition. One is dated 1692 and the other is probably slightly later, and like the majority of Coorte’s work – and rather unusually in Dutch art – they were painted on paper and later glued to panel. The 1692 painting is the artist’s earliest known dated work on paper.

Of all the still life painters of the Dutch Golden Age, Coorte is the most enigmatic, as well as one of the most loved by modern collectors. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the early part of the 18th century he seems to have worked in complete isolation in the city of Middelburg in Zeeland, the same region where the Dutch family who discovered the painting originates from. Very little is known of his life although he is believed to have been a pupil of Hondecoeter in Amsterdam. Apart from a few of his earliest works, his painting betrays no influences whatsoever of any other painters or schools of painters and he had no followers or imitators. His still lifes are nearly all very simple compositions of produce from a typical garden (fruits, vegetables and nuts etc.) and always strictly according to season.

Coorte was almost completely disregarded until the 1950s when a series of articles and an exhibition curated by Laurens Bol drew attention to him. Since then the profile of his work has continued to rise, culminating with a major exhibition devoted to him at the Mauritshuis in The Hague in 2008.

Commenting on the discovery of the two still lifes, Martine Lambrechtsen, a Specialist in Old Master Paintings at Sotheby’s Amsterdam, said: “When I first saw these paintings I immediately recognised what they were and the discovery that they represented; it was really exciting. They are quintessential examples of Coorte’s work, are in fine, original condition, and come to the market with exemplary provenance having been away from the public eye for more than a century. We’re delighted to be offering them for sale at Sotheby’s Amsterdam.”

George Gordon, Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings, Sotheby’s Worldwide, said: “Works by Adriaen Coorte have a sheer simplicity that is markedly different to the opulence and profusion of so many other artists who were active in the Northern Netherlands in the 17th century. There is nothing else quite like them in Dutch art, and their contemplative character appeals particularly to the modern mind. The re-emergence of these two works represents a hugely significant addition to Coorte’s oeuvre and in light of this – and also their intriguing past – it is a pleasure to bring them to auction. It is entirely fitting that these works, by a major Dutch master and discovered in his homeland, are to be sold at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam. The Old Master market in Holland is clearly one of international importance and Sotheby’s remains committed to its future.”

Image: Adriaen Coorte (circa 1665 – after 1707), Still life of strawberries in an earthenware bowl. Estimate: €100,000 to 150,000. Photo: Sotheby’s