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Attrib­uted to Her­man Nai­wincx, Dutch, 1623-after 1651

Knoll Above a Pond, c. 1640-50 

In this under­stat­ed yet cap­ti­vat­ing draw­ing, dap­pled light falls on a gen­tly slop­ing hill beside a tran­quil pond. Above the stone retain­ing wall, a frag­ment of a wood­en fence leads toward a farm, just vis­i­ble in the upper right. The artist’s sub­tle use of wash, applied with vary­ing strokes and stip­pling, pro­vides a rich­ly tex­tured envi­ron­ment while the low view­point con­veys a sense of imme­di­a­cy, as though the view­er is actu­al­ly stand­ing in the artist’s place.

This is pos­si­bly a rare work by the tal­ent­ed but lit­tle-known painter, Her­man Nai­wincx, whose known body of draw­ings num­bers around two dozen sheets.1

The Peck draw­ing is not men­tioned in the few pre­vi­ous pub­li­ca­tions devot­ed to the artist, hav­ing only come to light more recent­ly. Nai­wincx was a land­scape spe­cial­ist, whose paint­ings often fea­ture moun­tains and crag­gy rocks in an Ital­ianate man­ner. He seems to have been under the spell of his Dutch Ital­ianate con­tem­po­raries such as Jan Asseli­jn (1610 – 1652), Jan Both (1615/22 – 1652), and Nico­laes Berchem (1621/22 – 1683). Some­times in his prints and draw­ings he cre­at­ed equal­ly pleas­ing low­land views of woods and rivers that osten­si­bly prof­fer local Dutch set­tings rather than Alpine or Ital­ianate ones.2

Fea­tur­ing a rich set of tex­tures, this draw­ing focus­es on what appears to be a marshy area on a farm (just vis­i­ble in the back­ground on the right). The fence prob­a­bly served to help live­stock avoid the slight­ly pre­cip­i­tous drop in front of the stone retain­ing wall. Nai­wincx fre­quent­ly found artis­tic poten­tial in the inter­sec­tion of land, veg­e­ta­tion, and water, espe­cial­ly in his draw­ings. Such a com­bi­na­tion requires a com­mand of a range of strokes, seen here par­tic­u­lar­ly well in the inter­min­gling of ele­ments along the embank­ment and in the con­vinc­ing reflec­tions in the pond. A com­pa­ra­ble exam­ple in Nai­wincx’s oeu­vre can be found in the Rijksmu­se­um Fig. 34.1.3

Herman Naiwincx, Wooded River Landscape with Two Anglers
Fig. 34.1

Her­man Nai­wincx, Wood­ed River Land­scape with Two Anglers, c. 1634 – 54. Gray wash and black chalk, 196 × 269 mm. Ams­ter­dam, Rijksmu­se­um, inv. no. rp-t1898-a-3520.

The com­pact and unusu­al­ly low view­point in the Peck draw­ing, as well as the greater reliance on brush­work alone, might reflect his fur­ther devel­op­ment as an artist. Other draw­ings by Nai­wincx that evince sim­i­lar­i­ties with the present sheet can be found in the British Muse­um, Lon­don, and the Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia, Paris.4

Only a few of his secure­ly attrib­uted works, how­ev­er, match exact­ly in style. Ulti­mate­ly, the attri­bu­tion of the unsigned Peck draw­ing to Nai­wincx, while entire­ly plau­si­ble, remains some­what tentative.

None of Nai­wincx’s works bear dates with­in his rel­a­tive­ly small oeu­vre of paint­ings, draw­ings, and prints.5

He only appears in doc­u­ments as an adult between 1648 and 1651, and he may have either died young or aban­doned his artis­tic activ­i­ties after a cer­tain point.6

The lat­ter is cer­tain­ly a pos­si­bil­i­ty since he described him­self as a mer­chant (coop­man) in some of those doc­u­ments.7

We also know that he belonged to a fam­i­ly that ran a major tapes­try-mak­ing busi­ness based in Schoonhoven. One indi­ca­tion of its scale and suc­cess is that they rent­ed a large num­ber of tapes­tries to the city of Ams­ter­dam for the arrival of Marie de’ Medici in 1642.8

Nai­wincx’s pur­suit of art as a land­scape spe­cial­ist would not be out of line with such a busi­ness. Some of his firm’s tapes­tries, for exam­ple, illus­trat­ed tales from Ovid set in wood­ed sur­round­ings.9

Even if he worked for the fam­i­ly busi­ness, he was more than just an ama­teur, since he named his occu­pa­tion as painter (schilder) on at least one occa­sion, and he pos­si­bly thought of him­self as hav­ing dual pro­fes­sions.10

There is also evi­dence that his paint­ings could fetch high prices dur­ing his life­time.11

When he was last doc­u­ment­ed in 1651, Nai­wincx was appar­ent­ly in Ham­burg, the home­town of his moth­er, and it is unclear if he ever returned to the Nether­lands.12

Given his eclec­ti­cism, mod­ern style of drafts­man­ship, and evi­dence that he once pro­duced con­sid­er­ably more works than have sur­vived or come to light, it is entire­ly pos­si­ble that he sur­vived the trip and con­tin­ued to be active as an artist after this date.

End Notes

  1. For Nai­wincx’s draw­ings, see Blankert & Nys­tad 1979, 55 – 58, cat­a­logu­ing sev­en­teen works (and reject­ing twelve); and Kuyper 1984, sup­ple­ment­ing their cat­a­logue with two addi­tions. Oth­ers have come to light, though some­times with con­test­ed attri­bu­tions; see, for exam­ple, Sad­kov 2010, no. 285 (reject­ed by P. Schat­born); and sale, Christie’s, Ams­ter­dam, 10 Decem­ber 2014 (I. Q. van Regteren Alte­na Col­lec­tion, Part II), lot 244 (appears auto­graph). Sev­er­al draw­ings by or attrib­uted to Nai­wincx in Berlin were appar­ent­ly over­looked by Blankert & Nys­tad, for which see Bock & Rosen­berg 1930, vol. 1, 198 (six draw­ings accept­ed, three as questionable).

  2. For Nai­wincx’s etch­ings, see Holl­stein, vol. 14, 132 – 35, nos. 1 – 18; and The Illus­trat­ed Bartsch, vol. 5, 99 – 106, nos. 1 – 16.

  3. Blankert & Nys­tad 1979, 55 – 56, no. T5.

  4. Blankert & Nys­tad 1979, 55, nos. T3, T4. For the British Muse­um draw­ing, see also Hind 1915 – 32, vol. 4, 3, no. 3; and for the Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia draw­ing, see Brus­sels, Rot­ter­dam, Paris & Bern 1968 – 69, vol. 1, 109 – 10, no. 107, vol. 2, pl. 132.

  5. See the remarks in Kuyper 1984, 240 – 41.

  6. For bio­graph­i­cal sum­maries, see Blankert & Nys­tad 1979, 48 – 49; C. Schuck­man in Turn­er 1996; and I. Veld­man in the All­ge­meines Künstlerlexicon

  7. Bredius 1941.

  8. See Schaap 1956 for a his­to­ry of the tapes­try firm; and idem, 6, for the rental to the city of Amsterdam.

  9. Schaap 1956, 2; destroyed dur­ing the 1929 fire in the Lei­den town hall.

  10. For the men­tion as painter, see Dudok van Heel 1994, 346 (note 28): Her­man Nauwinghs, schilder, in de War­moesstraedt in t Waapen van den Briel, jongh man” (23 June 1650).

  11. See Bredius 1941, 22, men­tion­ing a cer­tain Josias Tullekens, who pur­chased a land­scape by Nai­wincx for f 50.

  12. Blankert & Nys­tad 1979, 48 – 49.