Hendrick SONNIUS (The Hague c.1615 - England c.1688)

Italianate Landscape with Travellers and a Donkey Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash on vellum.
Inscribed A. v. d. Velde near the lower left.
Inscribed (signed?) henritio zonius fl. 60 / Roma 1647 on the verso.
346 x 485 mm. (13 5/8 x 19 1/8 in.)



One of only two surviving drawings by Hendrick Sonnius, this very large drawing on vellum was attributed to the artist, on the basis of the old inscription on the verso, by a previous owner; the curator and art historian I. Q. van Regteren Altena, who published a pioneering article on the artist in Oud Holland in 1930. As he described the drawing: ‘On the right, in the distance, is a country house surrounded by pines and cypresses, as used to be found near Rome and in the Campagna; above the river, on the left, one thinks one can make out the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli. It appears that a particular place is not depicted here, which may be deduced from the placement of the little temple...’

That the drawing was done in Rome in 1647 is evidenced by the inscription on the verso, and Van Regteren Altena pounts out that the figures this drawing may have been inspired by those found in paintings that Sonnius would have seen in Italy. As he further notes of the present sheet, ‘The very individuality of the technique, when rendering many different elements, still displays a fine division of shadows and light, which is concentrated primarily on the bare tree trunk in the centre, and is certainly part of the artistic baggage that [Sonnius] has brought with him from the north. For the time being, this should encourage us to give Hendrick Sonnius a place alongside Willem de Heer in the history of Dutch drawing.’

Only one other drawing by Hendrick Sonnius is known; a much smaller pastoral scene drawn in graphite on vellum, signed and dated 1645, in the collection of the British Museum.

George Edward Habich, Kassel (Lugt 862)
His sale, Stuttgart, H. G. Gutekunst, 27 April 1899 onwards, lot 753 (‘Henritio Zonius. Um 1650. Landschaft bei Tivoli mit dem Sibyllentempel, im Vordergrunde rechts ein Hirtenpaar mit zwei Maultieren. L. 49 cm, H. 34 1/2 cm. Feder und sepia. Miniaturartig ausgeführte Zeichnung auf Pergament.’), sold for 20 Marks to Meder
Anonymous sale, Frankfurt, F. A. C. Prestel, 27-29 June 1927, lot 355 [catalogue unlocated]
Iohan Quirijn van Regteren Altena, Amsterdam (his posthumous sale stamp [Lugt 4617] stamped on the verso), until 1980
By descent to his wife, Augusta Louisa Wilhelmina van Regteren Altena (née van Royen), Amsterdam, until 2006
Thence by family descent.

I. Q. van Regteren Altena, ‘Vergeten Namen. I: Hendrick Sonnius’, Oud Holland, 1930, pp.165-167, fig.1; Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, Leipzig, 1937, Vol.XXXI, p.281; Ingrid Oud, Michiel Jonker and Marijn Schapelhouman, In de ban van Italië: tekeningen uit een Amsterdamse verzameling, Amsterdam, 1995, p.39, no.15; Frédéric Elsig, L’art et ses marchés: La peinture flamande et hollandaise (XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles) au Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genève, Paris, 2009, pp.270-271, under no.166.

Hendrick SONNIUS

Italianate Landscape with Travellers and a Donkey


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