19th-Century Dutch Folk Art Painting
It came to the family when my great-grandmother left Holland to emigrate to this country. The family story goes that it was a gift, we presume from the painter, or the artist, to her before they came to America. Later, this was at the home of my great-grandmother's, which my great-aunt then lived, and we'd go to visit her and she would be wanting to give things away, and my sister saw this and it was dusty and dirty and very black, and she's, like, "Let's take this." And my mother said, "Oh, it's too dirty, no." So we ended up bringing it home, and my father bought some cleaner and lightly touched the painting. I remember he just...
So he did a little cleaning. Thankfully, he had a very light touch, because it still has a wonderful old surface. Oftentimes when people clean pictures at home, they can do irreparable damage, so congratulations to him. Now one might ask, would this picture benefit from a professional cleaning? In my opinion, no. Leave it alone. We were attracted to it, I think, precisely because it has that sort of magic untouched look. This to me is a terrific Dutch folk art scene. I love the pallet, the meticulous detail that they put into painting all the bricks and mortar and all the architectural details. This is a portrait of a whole block in a town. The picture is so alive with activity. It has a lot of vitality. We see the two fishing boats, and it looks like they're about to offload whatever they found, and there are people lined up next to the fishing boats. There are people sitting in the doorsteps, wearing what appear to be Dutch caps on their heads. The picture is painted on mattress ticking.
And then the mattress ticking has been tacked on to what appear to be a series of pine boards. It's a little difficult to date the painting, but I would guess it was painted sometime probably a little bit after the mid-19th century. The way that it's painted on mattress ticking, that was only in favor for a relatively short amount of time. Some people might say, "What about the craquelure here, does that bother you?" It doesn't bother me at all. It's a tough call. I mean, I tend to be conservative, but I think at auction, easily, it's a $4,000 to $6,000 painting, and perhaps more.
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