PETRUS STAVERENUS (The Hague, active 1634 – 1654)

Petrus Staverenus

Petrus Staverenus (The Hague, active 1634 – 1654)

An Allegory of Smell

Oil on canvas, 75 x 61 cm

Dr Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863-1930), The Hague, from 1929, as Willem Eversdijk (inv. no. 1964); his sale, The Hague, 9 June 1931, lot 243 (‘W. Eversdijk. Levensgroote Half-figuur ener vrouw. Doek 72 x 53.’; probably with P. de Boer, Amsterdam, 1932, no. 117 (‘Staverinus. Het bittere drankje. D. 73 x 59.5.’); priv. coll. J. Hedeman, Almelo; his sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, 14/20 December 1948, lot 41 (‘Gerrit van Honthorst. Le gout. Femme au visage enflammé, la bouche ouverte, prête à s’ingurgiter le contenu d’un flacon qu’elle désigne de son index. Une grande coiffe blanche retombe sur sa robe brune aux manches saumon. Toile. Haut. 74, larg. 59 cent.’), sold for Dfl. 130, with comments by Horst Gerson: ‘vroeger verz. Groot als W. Eversdijck’ en ‘Eerder Staverinus’; anon. sale Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, 18/20 April 1950, lot 92 (as Terbruggen); with dealer Esher Surrey, The Hague, 1950-1956; priv. coll. J. van Duyvendijk, Scheveningen, from 1956; anon. sale Sotheby’s, New York, 14 October 1998, lot 180 (as Haarlem School, 17th Century); anon. sale, Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 3 May 1999, lot 80; anon. sale, Christie’s, New York, 29 May 2001, lot 140; anon. sale, Christie’s, South Kensington, 26 October 2011, lot 87; private collection, Gouda.


Petrus Staverenus (also known as Staverinus) was recorded as a painter in The Hague between 1634 and 1654.1 He joined the Guild of St Luke in 1635, but did not pay the admission fee of eighteen guilders, which suggests he was not a native of The Hague, but was born elsewhere. Archival research has not yet established where he was born and raised.2 Only a dozen or so authentic paintings by Staverenus have survived, including genre pieces, ‘tronie’ portraits and fish still lives, including a work in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.3 His paintings were engraved and mezzotinted during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by Abraham Blooteling, Jan Verkolje and Peter Schenk the Elder, among others, which indicates that the artist enjoyed considerable fame, although he is mostly forgotten today. A notebook by Staverenus is preserved in the collection of the Museum Bredius in The Hague.

The picture is highly comparable in handling, subject matter and dimensions to a painting representing an Old Woman Drinking from a Wine Glass in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College Art Gallery, USA (fig.).4 Staverenus seems to have specialised in such grotesque ‘tronies’ representing the Five Senses. A mezzotint by Petrus Schenk (1660–1711) in the collection of the Rijksprentenkabinet after a painting by Staverenus of a smoking man is entitled ‘De Reuk’ (the Sense of Smell).5

The authorship by Staverenus of the present work has been confirmed by Dr Fred Meijer and the painting is listed as an autograph work by Staverenus in the databases of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague (RKD image no. 283200).


1. For the artist, see Edwin Buijsen (ed.), Haagse Schilders in de Gouden Eeuw, The Hague/Zwolle 1998, p. 348.
2. See F.D.O. Obreen, Archief voor Nederlandsche Kunstgeschiedenis, 7 vols., Rotterdam 1877-1890, vol. 5, p. 97, vol. 7, p. 307, 309-310.
3. Oil on panel, 95 x 124.5 cm; Verzeichniß der Gegenstände der plastichen unde der Gemälde-Sammlung im K. Museum der bildenden Künste zu Stuttgart, Stuttgart 1844, p. 65, no. 17.
4. Oil on canvas, 76 x 62.5 cm; sold at Sotheby’s London 12 December 2002, lot 33, repr.
5. Mezzotint, 192 x 133 mm, inv. no. RP-P-1910-2261.