Oil on panel: 36.5 cm × 51 cm
signed and dated ‘C Springer 1866’ (lower left)
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Cornelis Springer was a 19th-century Dutch artist and one of the most important Dutch cityscape painters; he has been called the “greatest painter among the architects, and the greatest architect among the painters”. Working within the tradition of 17th-century Dutch Golden Age painters such as Jan van der Heyden and Gerrit Berckheyde, Springer emphasized form and receding perspectival space through the play of light as it cuts across buildings.
Born on May 25, 1817 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, he went on to study at the Amsterdam Academy of Art, and then as a private pupil of Kasparus Karsen. He became a member of the Amsterdam painters collective Felix Meritis and won a gold medal for a painting of a church interior in 1847. He is known for watercolors, etchings, and drawings, especially of city views and town scenes that he sketched while traveling around the country. He was awarded the Leopold order of Belgium in 1865, and in 1878 he was invited with Jozef Israëls to advise the Dutch Ministry of Public Affairs on the plans for the Rijksmuseum. Together with B.C. Koekkoek and A. Schelfhout, he belongs to the leading painters of Dutch Romanticism.
The artist died on February 20, 1891 in Hilversum, Netherlands. Today, his works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, and the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, among others.
The present painting is a beautiful painting of the former ‘Staal-Everspijp’, currently known as the Staaleversgracht or the ‘Staalevers Canal’ in Enkhuizen. Armed with a drawing pencil and a sketchbook, Springer visited dozens of cities with beautiful sixteenth- and seventeenth-century architecture. Besides Amsterdam, where he lived most of his life, he had a soft spot for Enkhuizen. This resulted in more than fifty paintings, fifteen watercolors and a large number of sketches.
According to Arnold Ligthart, the fact that he devoted no less than a tenth of his total oeuvre to the ‘Herring City’ of Enkhuizen is due to the wealth of historic buildings in this once renowned VOC city. Various nineteenth-century cityscape painters, such as Willem Koekkoek and Adrianus Eversen, were also inspired by it.