Willem Van Mieris the Elder (Leyden 1662-1747) Sylvia freed by Aminta

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Lot 28
Willem Van Mieris the Elder
(Leyden 1662-1747)
Sylvia freed by Aminta

Sold for £ 23,812 (US$ 29,937) inc. premium
Willem Van Mieris the Elder (Leyden 1662-1747)
Sylvia freed by Aminta
signed 'W van Mieris' (lower left)
oil on panel
37.5 x 45.5cm (14 3/4 x 17 15/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Robert de Neufville, Leiden, by whom offered
    Sale, Leiden, 15 March 1736, lot 23 (fl.220)
    Dr. Johan Pieter Wierman, Leyden
    Sale, Amsterdam, 18 August 1762, lot 57 (fl. 310 to van Diemen)
    Anonymous Sale, Amsterdam, 15 July 1772, lot 12 (fl.240 to van Diemen)
    Simon van der Stel
    Sale, Amsterdam, 25 September 1781, lot 107 (fl.110 to Nijman)
    With Frederick Muller, Amsterdam, by whom sold to
    John Bilgrey, Forest Hills, Long Island
    Sale, Parke Bernet, New York, 23 March 1950, lot 4
    Sale, Sotheby's, 15 July 1970, lot 161 (as Perseus and Andromache, bt. Randall, £900)

    Literature
    G. Hoet, Catalogus of Naamlyst van Schildereyen met derzelver pryzen zedert een lange reeks van Jaaren zoo in Holland als op andere Plaatzen in het openbaar verkogt, The Hague, 1752, vol. I, no. 460.
    P. Terwesten, Catalogus of Naamlyst van Schildereyen met derzelver pryzen zedert den 27. Auguste 1752 tot den 21. November 1768, The Hague, 1770 (supplement to Hoet), no. 262.
    C. Hofstede de Groot, A catalogue raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch painters of the seventeenth century, London, 1926, vol. X, p. 135, no. 126

    The subject of the present work is based on the epic poem of 1573 Aminta by Torquato Tasso (1544-1595). It tells of Sylvia, a nymph who was pledged to chastity in the service of Diana the goddess of hunting and the shepherd, Aminta (or Amyntas), whose love for her she did not return. After an incident in which Aminta was wounded and thought to be dead, Sylvia was filled with remorse and on discovering he was still alive she relented and declared her love for him. The present painting shows the moment early on in the story when Aminta comes across Sylvia in a wood, bound to a tree by an ill-intentioned satyr. He risks his life by untying her but far from being grateful for his help, she shuns him and flees.

    Willem van Mieris painted in the virtuoso style of his father Frans and the older artist's Leiden contemporaries. The hallmark of the Leiden finschilders was their technique of finely-rendered detail and textures, generally using copper or panel as a support. In the present painting Willem has emphasised Sylvia's porcelain-like skin by contrasting it with the rough bark of the tree behind her and he shows off his skill in the naturalistic way he depicts the scarf, the iron spear head and the animal pelt that Aminta wears.
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