Jacob de Wit (1695 - 1754)

Self-Portrait, within a Decorative Allegorical Surround Sold

Pen and brown and grey ink and grey wash, with framing lines in grey ink, laid down on an old mount.
The outlines indented with a stylus for transfer.
144 x 91 mm. (5 5/8 x 3 5/8 in.)


A study, in reverse, for an engraved portrait of Jacob de Wit included in the second volume of Jacob van Gool’s De Nieuwe schouburg der Nederlantsche kunstschilders, published in The Hague in 1751. The print, like most of those reproduced in Gool’s book, is by Jacobus Houbraken (1698-1780). While the elements surrounding the oval portrait are identical in the both the drawing and the print, the portrait itself is not, and it appears that Houbraken substituted another likeness of the artist for the portrait in the present drawing. Indeed, the margin of the print lists Jan Maurits Quinkhard as the author of the portrait (‘J.M. Quinkhard pinx. 1751.’) and Jacob de Wit as responsible for the decorative surround (‘J. de Wit orn. del.’), alongside Houbraken as the printmaker (‘J. Houbraken sculp.’). The portrait in the Houbraken print is also very similar, albeit in reverse, to an etched portrait of Jacob de Wit by J. L. Benoist the Younger.

Jacob de Wit produced a variety of painted and drawn self-portraits, all of which show the artist at approximately the same age, and with his head and shoulders in variants of the same pose. Among these is one closely related to the present sheet; a pen and wash drawing in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Somewhat larger in scale, the Rijksmuseum drawing is close to the present sheet in composition, incorporating the same oval portrait but flanked by a putto in a different pose, and with alternative attributes of the arts underneath.

Another self-portrait drawing by Jacob de Wit, drawn in black and red chalk, is in the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen in Weimar, while another is in the P. and N. de Boer Foundation in Amsterdam. A similar painted oval self-portrait of c.1740 is in the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder in Amsterdam.

An impression of the Houbraken engraving (see related image) is sold with this drawing.

Louis Meier, Cecil Court, London
Purchased from him in c.1956 by Ralph Holland, Newcastle
Thence by descent until 2013.

Hans Buijs and Ger Luijten, ed., Goltzius to Van Gogh: Drawings and Paintings from the P. & N. de Boer Foundation, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2014-2015, pp.220-221, under no.100 (entry by Robert-Jan te Rijdt).

Jacob de WIT

Self-Portrait, within a Decorative Allegorical Surround


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