Johannes Christian Roedig, Pair of Still Lifes, both signed and dated 1779, oil on panel
Lot 81
Johannes Christianus Roedig (The Hague 1751-1802) Tulips, roses and other flowers in a classical urn overturned by a cat chasing a mouse with a statue of Flora beyond; and Peaches, grapes, pumpkins, a lemon, a pomegranate and other fruit and flowers in a wicker basket on a marble plinth, with a classical urn beyond (2)
Sold for £1,196,000 (US$ 1,504,564) inc. premium

Lot Details
Johannes Christianus Roedig (The Hague 1751-1802)
Tulips, roses and other flowers in a classical urn overturned by a cat chasing a mouse with a statue of Flora beyond; and Peaches, grapes, pumpkins, a lemon, a pomegranate and other fruit and flowers in a wicker basket on a marble plinth, with a classical urn beyond
both signed and dated 'C Roedig/1779' (lower right, in brick and lower left, on stone)
a pair, oil on panel
73 x 57.5cm (28 3/4 x 22 5/8in). (2)


    Sale, Pieter Lyonet, Amsterdam (Bunel and Yver) 11 April, 1791, nos. 217 and 218
    Sale, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vinkeles) 7 May, 1804, no. 145
    Sale, Wreesman, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vries) 11 April, 1816, no. 154
    Private Collection, the Netherlands, circa 1820 and thence by descent until circa 1970
    Collection of Miss Wurfbain, Wassenaar, 1983
    With Kunsthandel Hoogsteder and Hoogsteder, 1987, whence acquired by the present owner.

    Amsterdam, 1970, Boeket in Willet, no. 26 (only floral still life)
    De Boer, Amsterdam and Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick, 1983, De vrucht van het verleden, nos. 70-71

    S. Segal, cat. Boeket in Willet, Amsterdam, 1970, no. 26, ill.
    S. Segal, cat. A Fruitful Past, Amsterdam and Brunswick, 1983, pp. 86-87, nos. 70-71, ill.

    It is quite exceptional for examples of this artist's work of such outstanding quality to appear on the market. Fred Meijer has interestingly pointed out that Roedig must have produced various levels of quality in his oeuvre to cater for a varying clientele. As well as producing individual works of very high quality, such as the present pair, Roedig appears to have produced deliberate fakes (bearing signatures) of such artist as Paul-Thedore van Brussel and Jan Davidsz. de Heem, in which his hand is clearly recognisable. From correspondence between Roedig's son and the nineteenth century art historian, Adriaen van der Willigen, we know that the artist sold a large number of his works to Russia during his lifetime, which explains why hardly any, let alone his outstanding works, remained in his native Holland. For example, in 1783, the Russian Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov, a confidant of Catherine II, bought two paintings by the artist and gave these to the connoisseur empress. The present pair of paintings thus provide a unique opportunity of acquiring examples of Roedig's work of this calibre. It is also remarkable that this pair of paintings have remained together since they were painted and that their provenance can be traced back to shortly after their creation in 1791. The esteem with which these pictures were held at that time is evident in an extensive description which was given to them in the sale catalogue at that time. Regarding the floral still life it was stated that 'This delightful composition in a courtyard scene depicts a decorously ornamental vase filled with ... fine flowers; the same appears to be knocked over by a cat chasing a mouse, with flowers falling haphazardly making a splendid scene...; this piece is painted with an especially clear and realistic and wonderfully detailed brush.' In around 1820 the two paintings formed part of a private collection in the Netherlands, where they remained through descent until around 1985.

    One of the few reliable sources about Johann Christian Roedig is a letter from his son, which is now in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague. This letter dates from 1818 and is addressed to the biographer, Adriaen van der Willigen, who had published a history of Dutch painting in the eighteenth century shortly before (Geshiedenis der vaderlandsche schilderkunst sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw). Roedig's son related that his father was born in April 1750 in The Hague and died in that city in May 1801. He learned to paint under Dirk van der Aa and in turn taught Abraham Teixeira de Mattos (circa 1755-1818 or after) and Elisabeth Georgina van Hoogenhuyzen (a highly talented girl who died at the age of eighteen and by whom only two still lifes, entirely in Roedig's style are known), but Fred Meijer does not believe that he let others work on his paintings. In 1794 he was appointed secretary of the Tekenacademie in The Hague, a position that he was to keep until his death. Like Jan van Os, also of The Hague, Roedig specialised in still lifes of flowers and fruit and enjoyed a wide reputation in his own day. Considering the presence of these two artists as contemporaries in The Hague it is no coincidence that, in terms of both technical quality and the imaginative drama of his compositions, the best examples of Roedig's works, such as the present pair, are considered to be at least comparable to those of Jan van Os.

    Sam Segal has also indicated a debt to Abraham Mignon, who also included in one of his paintings a cat spitting near a mouse-trap, with a mouse and a vase of flowers which is almost toppling. This is a debt to the vanitas idea; while the statue of Flora and the bird's nest allude to the spring, most of the flowers being spring and early summer ones. The companion picture appears to depict late summer and autumn. According to De Lairesse winter must be excluded from paintings, because the sight of it would give more sadness than pleasure (see Sam Segal, op. cit., pp. 86-87).

    We are grateful to Mr Fred Meijer of the RKD for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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