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Anthonie Jansz. Van der Croos (1606-1662): a 17th century panoramic landscape

"On a Tuesday evening in the spring of 2019, the students of the lecture "Art and Commerce: Painting and the Market between 1400-1700" at Leiden University received a list of characteristics on how to quickly date Dutch paintings from the 17th century. The essence of the lecture was that Dutch painters were entrepreneurs who capitalized on the trends of their time. Artistic competition compelled artists to specialize, enabling them to streamline the production process by employing techniques like wet-on-wet painting. This approach kept the prices of their paintings affordable while maintaining a high level of quality. Despite the many exceptions, I diligently jotted down the key points in my notebook. Concrete guidelines like these were rare in university education. Normally, I prefer observing over writing, but in this case, I had made a wise choice.

Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos, Hollands panorama-landschap met figuren
Before restoration: Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos, Dutch panorama landscape with figures, approx. 1650, oil on panel, 9,5 x 20,5 cm. Photo: Han Boersma. Sold.

"A Romantic 19th-Century scene"

It was early June, a month after the lecture, and I was scrolling at an online marketplace. A week earlier, I had purchased a small oil painting featuring a seated lady, unaware that it would be included in the catalogue raisonné of the French cubist André Lhote a month later. With renewed enthusiasm, I began searching for other artworks, whether for trading or for my personal collection. I opened the app and perused the list of "recommended for you" advertisements. The algorithm presented a Gypsy girl, Herman Brood, Anton Pieck prints, and "a romantic 19th-century scene." I clicked on the latter advertisement and reached for my lecture notebook. The depiction of a Dutch landscape was predominantly painted in earthy monochromatic colors, with undulating diagonal lines, a low horizon, and figures in the foreground serving as repoussoir to create depth. Two lines intersected above the figures, which I assumed were fishing rods. The wooden panel possessed all the characteristics of a Dutch painting from the tonal or monochrome period around 1650.

The seller was located in Belgium and asked for a modest amount for the panel. In the past, I had bought art from Belgium that unfortunately never arrived in the Netherlands. The internet is teeming with unscrupulous traders, which undermines trust in these channels of commerce. Nevertheless, I took the risk, contacted the seller, and reserved the painting. The work was housed in a colossal frame resembling a baguette. "A good shipping cushion," I thought myself.

Two days later, to my surprise, the package arrived. I grabbed a utility knife, removed the panel from the bubble wrap, and carefully examined it. The support, the material on which the painting was created, was undoubtedly very old. White residues, a mixture of chalk and bone glue used as an underlayer, could be seen at the edges. Over time, the figures had become somewhat transparent in places, and unfortunately, the two fishing rods were actually scratches. I was convinced of its age but had no idea who the artist was. The work bore no signature, in line with its time, making it challenging to attribute it to a specific painter.

Dutch Antique Road Show

I decided to contact Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder in The Hague, a respected art dealer specialized in 17th and 18th century painters. I received a response asking if I could bring the panel to the filming day of the Dutch Antique Road Show in Nijmegen. After Willem Jan Hoogsteder cast his expert eye upon it, he declared that it was a work by Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos (Alkmaar ca. 1606 - 1663 The Hague) created around 1650. Van der Croos lived in The Hague and was a neighbor of Jan van Goyen. The Museum Bredius has two similar panels in its collection. This work stands out as a panorama landscape.

Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos, Hollands panorama-landschap met figuren
After restoration: Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos, Dutch panorama landscape with figures, approx. 1650, oil on panel, 9,5 x 20,5 cm. Photo: Han Boersma. Sold.

The panel has been restored and placed in a suitable frame. The fishing rods have been filled and retouched, the surface dirt removed, and the panel varnished. I have since imprinted the characteristics I learned during the lecture in my mind because you never know when or where you will come across another "19th-century romantic scene."


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