Cornelis Springer (Dutch 1817-1891) Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses 60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.)
Lot 12
Cornelis Springer
(Dutch 1817-1891)
Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses 60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.)
Sold for £492,800 (US$ 788,655) inc. premium

Lot Details
Cornelis Springer (Dutch 1817-1891) Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses 60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.) Cornelis Springer (Dutch 1817-1891) Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses 60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.) Cornelis Springer (Dutch 1817-1891) Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses 60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.)
Cornelis Springer (Dutch 1817-1891)
Market day in a Dutch town with numerous figures conversing in a square with stalls and a laden cart and horses
signed 'C. Springer' (lower right), also incised CS in ligature on the reverse
oil on panel
60 x 77.5 cm. (23 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.)

Footnotes

  • By the middle of the nineteenth century, there was a marked increase in the purchasing power of the Dutch collector. Although this reflected an overall strengthening of the economy, times were still affected by short periods of “boom-and-bust”. In parallel to this, commercial activities were recording new growths, affecting the art market in many new ways. One of the challenging novelties of this emerging market involved the gradual liberation of the artist from private patronage. Indeed, due to the increasing demand for works of art, artists were beginning to distance themselves from the tedious whims of temperamental patrons in order to supply an anonymous and widespread purchasing public. This shift in patronage affected the nature of artists’ productions. Now, they were submissive to the changes in public taste and needed to follow – and even pre-empt – the latest variations in contemporary fashion. By specialising in one genre, the painter could ensure a particular part of the market for himself, commanding the prices that they wanted to ensure a steady income. Cornelis Springer (1817-1891) ranked among those few painters who specialised in a particular field and whose regular production of very fine paintings supplied growing consumer demand.

    Born into a modest family, Cornelis Springer showed an early interest in architecture. This inclination had led him to enter the Amsterdam Academy and to acquire the rudiments of the art of drawing and painting, before becoming a pupil of Kaspar Karsen (1810-1896). With an acute sense for linear precision and a keen appreciation for structural composition, Springer first specialised in urban capricci subjects, following the manner of his master; gradually, then, he moved on to more accurate topographical depictions of Dutch towns and cities. Drawing on the tradition of townscape views developed during the ‘Golden Age’ of Dutch painting, in the seventeenth century, Cornelis Springer remained particularly indebted to Gerrit Berckheijde (Haarlem, 1638-1698) and Jan van Heijden (Amsterdam, 1637-1712). Both artists had excelled in painting urban views, which were to form the core of their finest works. In the nineteenth century, Cornelis Springer demonstrated a remarkable ability to create contemporary interpretations of his predecessors’ masterpieces. The present painting reveals Springer’s influences, both creative and technical, whereby the organisation of space and figures derives from the art of Berckheijde, while the strong and varied sense of colour with large areas of warmer tones is reminiscent of the technique favoured by Heijden. By the 1860s, Springer’s townscapes had become some of the most sought after paintings by both the traditional and new bodies of private collectors.

    With a stronger economy and a stable political scene, a far greater percentage of the Dutch population were able to live in modest or considerable wealth. This new prosperity led more citizens to consider their own national identity, and reflect on the historical and cultural heritage of their country. The growing nationalism – a spreading phenomenon after the 1815 Congress of Vienna – rooted itself in the scientific, philosophical, and artistic ideas and inventions of the Republic. With a society inclined to an empirical and materialistic approach to reality, paintings took on an informative role; they would record the daily life of the Dutch nation in a conscious effort to remind its own citizens of the nation’s ancestral lineage.

    The idea of architectural painting as a visual document is certainly not new. However, what emerged in the nineteenth century was a widespread and more definite interest in the notion of ‘novelty’ in the collective effort to define a Dutch identity. Painted views of Dutch towns and cities would remind the public of the singularity of Dutch architecture and its inhabitants and, in doing so, provide the viewer with pride in his citizenship. The present view of a town, whether real or fantastic, offers the spectator one such example. The monumental (public) buildings, the elevated (private) residences and the (public) market square offer its citizens the space for private engagements, commercial exchanges and individual conversations. Springer’s polished care in recording the daily life of fellow citizens at work in their own urban space presents the viewer with some visual ingredients for a collective and national identity.
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