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  • ABRAHAM DE VERWER (1585-1650)


    Signed & dated l.r. verwer inventor 1636 [crossed out and amended to 7]

    Pen & ink with grey wash

    18 x 29cm



    Patrick Dockar-Drysdale (1929-2020), Wick Hall, Radley



    This sheet is an outstanding example of the artist's topographical wash drawings, and fits comfortably into the timeline of such works within the artist's corpus. Among such drawings, especially similar sheets include Zeegezicht met kust, in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig (inv./ Z. 1276); Canal Landscape with Figures, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 1975.131.167). The group of drawings best-known by historians today is the important series of topographical views of Dutch and Northern French coastal towns and cities, painted shortly after the present work was executed, and now in the British Museum, London. 



    Abraham de Verwer is thought to have been born in Haarlem, and was registered as living there with his wife, Barbara Sillevorts, in 1607. Her will, which a Haarlem notary drew up for her in that year, identifies her husband as a cabinet maker; however, when Abraham appeared before an Amsterdam notary on January 9, 1617, he was identified as a painter. Presumably, he therefore learned to paint in oils at some point between 1607 and 1617, and is thought to have studied during this time under the famous Haarlem marine painter Hendrick Vroom (1563–1640). De Verwer’s early marine paintings of the 1620s reflect the large, brightly colored, and highly detailed depictions of marine battles that characterize Vroom’s work of the 1610s.


    De Verwer was extremely successful commercially in his new artistic career: having moved to Amsterdam to open a studio, his large battle scenes soon adorned the walls of the Amsterdam Admiralty, the Burgerweeshuis (Amsterdam’s civic orphanage), and the collection of the House of Orange. He travelled to France in the late 1630's, where he made a number of paintings and topographical drawings of French ports and at least four paintings of the Louvre (today housed in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris). In 1638, with the assistance of Constantijn Huygens, secretary to the Prince of Orange, De Verwer sent a number of these drawings of French ports to Prince Frederik Hendrik and, in the following year, sold him four paintings of French subjects, including two views of the Louvre. In 1642, identifying himself as “Seigneur Abraham de Verwer van Burghstrate,” he acquired a house called “De vergulde Fonteyn” on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam for 6,500 guilders - an indication of his impressive stature and financial success by the peak of his career. 



    • Notes

      (i) AG. Van Dalen, Rondom het Tolhuys aan Rijn en Waal : uit de geschiedenis van Lobith, Tolkamer, Spijk, Herwen en Aerdt, Gelderland (1972) , pp.64-65

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