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Johannes Pieter Visser Bender (Haarlem 1785-1813)

A landscape with a boy washing his feet

signed and dated ‘J.P.Visser. Bender. inv: et. delit./ 1806’ and with inscription ‘M ½ door hem aan zynen weldoener den Heer J. Spaendonk present gedaan.’
traced of black chalk, point of the brush and brown and grey wash, pen and brown ink framing lines, watermark ‘[…]aandyk’
16.5 x 20.8 cm

Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, 2 November 2004, lot 253.

The Haarlem printmaker and draughtsman Joannes Pieter Visser Bender grew up in an artistic family, both his father and stepfather were jewellers and silversmiths,[1] and received his training in drawing by Warnaar Horstink and in engraving by Izaak de Wit Jansz.[2] He became a member of the Haarlem Tekencollegie early on in his career and towards the end of his life he became its director. Besides his meticulous landscape prints, his small-sized portrait drawings of prominent citizens from his native Haarlem were celebrated during his life and indeed shortly after by Roeland van Eynden and Adriaan van der Willigen in their seminal Geschiedenis der Vaderlandsche Schilderkunst […].[3] A large number of those drawings is now at the Teylers Museum, Haarlem.[4]
Less known, and much rarer in the artist’s oeuvre, are independent drawings of Haarlem and views of the countryside surrounding the city. The present landscape drawing appears to be such a sheet; in the far distance, behind the tree and the disappearing cart, a row of carefully lit dunes is just visible. These could well be the dunes near Bloemendaal (a town just west of Haarlem), a subject that the artist also treated in a larger drawing which is now at the Noord Hollands Archief.[5] In this sheet, Visser Bender arranged different elements in an almost stage-like setting, giving the drawing a somewhat surreal quality. At right one observes a boy washing his feet in the sun, while a horse at left stands in the shade, quietly observing the scene.

[1] L.A. Schwartz, 'The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum. Artists born between 1740 and 1800', Haarlem, Ghent and Doornspijk, 2004, p. 457.
[2] R. van Eijnden and A. van der Willigen, 'Geschiedenis der Vaderlandsche Schilderkunst, sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw', Haarlem, 1830 [reprint, Amsterdam, 1979], vol. II, p. 496.
[3] 'ibid.', vol. IV, p. 192.
[4] L.A. Schwartz, op. cit., nos. 662-694, ill.
[5] inv. 43168.

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