NICOLAES AARTMAN (Amsterdam 1713 - 1760 Amsterdam)

Nicolaes Aartman

Nicolaes Aartman (Amsterdam 1713 - 1760 Amsterdam)

Italianate Landscape with Travellers Resting by the Entrace of a Country House

Coastal Landscape with Fishermen Mending Nets

Both pen and brown ink, watercolour, over traces of graphite, graphite framing lines, 93 x 119 mm (3.7 x 4.7 inch)

Both signed 'A. f:' (pen and brown ink)

Private collection, The Netherlands


Nicolaes Matthijsz Aartman was formerly known as the 'Monogrammist A', for his distinctive way of signing his drawings.1 Aartman is best known for the highly finished watercolour drawings such as the present sheet, executed for the albums of contemporary collectors – no paintings by the artist are recorded. Aartman worked both in monochrome grey wash, with signed drawings for instance in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle,2 and in colour wash, which were presumably higher valued by his contemporaries. The monochrome landscapes at Windsor were purchased by King George III (1738–1820), which shows the esteem in which early collectors held the artist.

Aartman is best known as a landscape draftsman, recording actual views in and around Amsterdam, and generalized idyllic views of a Mediterranean nature. However he also produced scenes from the life of Christ, other religious and mythological subjects, and interiors with genre scenes. Watercolours by Aartman are furthermore preserved in the print rooms of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen, Weimar, and the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. A self-portrait by Aartman is in the print room of Leiden University.

The present pair of charming and beautifully preserved watercolours interestingly depict a typical Southern and a Northern view: an Italianate landscape with Classical architecture and a background of distant hills in the first, and a Northern coastal view as can be seen along the shores of Holland. A comparable pair of two coastal views by Aartman, of somewhat smaller dimensions, is preserved in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (fig.).3

1. For the artist, see the biography in Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, Munich 1992- , vol. 1, p. 20.
2. C. White and C. Crawley, The Dutch and Flemish Drawings of the Fifteenth to the Early Nineteenth Centuries in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge 1994, nos. 548-550.
3. Watercolour, 70 x 97 mm (each); inv. nos. 1975.121.1 and 1975.121.2.