Caspar Netsher, Boy making a soap bubble, oil on copper
Lot 78
Caspar Netscher (Heidelberg 1639-1684 The Hague) A young boy making bubbles
Sold for £222,000 (US$ 373,142) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Caspar Netscher (Heidelberg 1639-1684 The Hague)
A young boy making bubbles
indistinctly signed and dated '1670' (lower centre)
oil on panel, arched top
11.2 x 8.4cm (4 7/16 x 3 5/16in).


    Marquis de Voyer, by 1760
    M. le Chevalier de Damery, by 1761
    J.B. de Troy Sale, Remy, Paris, 9 April 1764, lot 66 (640 Francs)
    Mademoiselle Clairon Sale, Paris, 5/15 March 1773, lot 1 (1201 Francs)
    Randon de Boiset Sale, Remy, Paris, 3 February 1777, lot 44 (1800 Francs to Chariot, pour Millon Dailly)
    Duc de Ch (oiseul or Chabot), Lebrun, Paris, 10 December 1778, lot 38 (2151 Francs to Lebrun)
    Possibly Vincent Donjeux Sale, Lebrun/Paillet, Paris, 29 April 1793, lot 268 (1400 Francs, with pendant?)
    Destouches Sale, Lebrun jeune/Julliot, Paris, 21 March 1794, lot 32 (1200 Francs to Saint Martin)
    Didier-Michel de Saint Martin, Paillet, Paris, 8 May 1806, lot 38 (1200 Francs to Paillet)
    Anna-Maria Hogguer-Ebeling, van der Schley, Roos and de Vries, Amsterdam, 18 August 1817, lot 60 (550 guilders to Nieuwenhuizen)
    Madame le Rouge Sale, Laneuville Chariot, Paris, 27 April 1818 (3310 Francs to de la Haute)
    George Watson Taylor, Wiltshire, by 1823
    His Sale, Robins, London, 9 July 1832 (£157.10 to A. Baring)
    Alexander Baring, first Baron Ashburton (1774-1848). On record 1833
    By descent to Francis Baring, third Baron Ashburton (1800-1868), The Grange (according to Waagen) and thence by descent to the present owner

    Johann Wille, 1761 as 'Le Petit Physicien' (some differences)

    London, British Institute, 1823, no. 80

    J.B. Descamps, La Vie des Peintres Flamands, Allemands et Hollandais (Paris, 1753-64), vol. 3, p. 83 (as in Voyer Collection)
    J.B.P. Lebrun, Galerie des Peintres Flamands, Hollandais et Allemands (Paris and Amsterdam 1792-96), vol. 2, p. 84, sm. 16
    G.F. Waagen, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris (Berlin, 1837-39), vol. 2, p. 88
    G.K. Nagler, Neues Allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon (Munich, 1835-52), vol. 2, p. 88
    J. Immerzeel Jr., De levens en wercken der Hollandsche en Bouwmeesters van het begin der vijftiende eeuw tot heden (Amsterdam, 1842-43)
    G.F. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain (London, 1854-57), vol. 2, pp. 104, 105
    C. Blanc, Le Trésor de la Curiosité tiré des Catalogues de Vente (Paris, 1857-8), vol. 2, p. 228
    F. Kugler and G.F. Waagen, Handbook of Painting: The German, Flemish and Dutch Schools (London, 1860), vol. 2, p. 369
    C. Blanc, Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles (Paris, 1863), vol. 2, p. 369
    A. von Wurzbach, Niederländisches Künstler-Lexicon (Vienna and Leipzig, 1906-11), vol. 2, p. 229
    C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century (London, 1913), vol. 5, p. 171, no. 65

    A version of the present work that was sold at Christie's in New York was mistakenly given to be the well-documented prime version of Netscher's celebrated composition (Christie's, New York, 26 May 2005, lot 33). However, the undoubted presence of the present painting in the collection of Alexander Baring, Lord Ashburton, from whom it was inherited by the current owner, testifies to the present work being that which was described by Hofstede de Groot.

    The young boy resembles the child in Netscher's Mother's Pride in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and it has been suggested that he may be one of the artist's sons. There is an engraving, with some differences to the painting, by Johann Wille, dated 1761, entitled Le Petit Physicien, which bears a dedication 'à Monsieur Damery, d'àpres le tableau original de même Grandeur' (see fig. 1). Monsieur Damery was the owner of the picture at that time.

    The fine rendering of textures and the arched format reflect the influence of the Leiden 'fine painters', such as Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieries the Elder, which has been detected in Netscher's work from circa 1664-5 (compare, for example, his Two boys blowing bubbles in the National Gallery, London).

Saleroom notices

  • The other version of this composition was sold at Sotheby's New York, 26 May 2005, lot 33 (not Christie's, as stated in the catalogue).
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