Abraham van Calraet was initially trained as a sculptor, just like his father Pieter Jansz van Calraet (ca. 1615-1680). According to the 17th century biographer Houbraken, Abraham’s younger brother Barent (1649-1737) was trained in the arts by the famous painter of landscape and cattle Aelbert Cuyp. However, because Barent’s oeuvre bears little to no resemblance to the work of his teacher, and because Abraham’s does, it is considered that perhaps Houbraken mixed the two brothers up, or simply forgot to mention that Abraham was trained by Cuyp as well (see Dumas et al. 2015, p. 26). Calraet had a wide range of subjects; besides a painter of landscapes (often with animals), he also painted still-lives with fruits or flowers, architectural and historical subjects and portraits. The still-lives, painted mainly in the 1670’s, were the first paintings that he signed with a full signature. Because he monogrammed the larger part of his paintings with the initials ‘AC’, and because his oeuvre closely matched that of Albert Cuyp both in style and quality, many paintings have been incorrectly attributed to Albert Cuyp in the past.
In the current picture, we see a man and woman talking to peasants or road travelers against the backdrop of a wide forest. On the left a young herder boy is seen, his dog on the right-hand. The woman has placed a copper milk can on the ground, behind a blanket covered basket. One of the peasants behind her carries also a basket and walking staff, having a lively discussion with the man beside him. A pendant is known for this picture, in which the artist has depicted himself sketching an outstretched landscape (Hofstede de Groot, 1908, cat.no. 77 suppl. 18, p. 31). A picture with a very similar composition is known, formerly in the collection of the Earl of Ellesmere at Bridgewater House, London (Hofstede de Groot, 1908, cat.no. 501, p. 144).
– Sale: Earl Granville in London, 21 June 1845;
– Sale Coulston in London, 1881;
– Art dealer F. Kleinberger in Paris;
– Collection Michel van Gelder in Uccle-Brussel in the 1930’s;
– from a private Dutch collection;
– with Douwes Fine Art at TEFAF 1990’s
– Collectie Bensdorp, The Netherlands;
– with Douwes Fine Art, Amsterdam, 2019.
– London, British Gallery, from earl Granville (according to Hofstede de Groot 1908).
– Hofstede de Groot, ‘Bescheibendes und kritisches verzeichnis der werke de hervorragendsten Holländischen maler de XVII. Jahrhunderts’, vol. II, London 1908, cat.no. 502, p. 145.
Literature about the artist
– C. Hofstede de Groot, ‘Aelbert Cuyp of Abraham van Kalraet?’, Oude Kunst 1 (1916), pp. 143-145.
– C. Dumas, F.G. Meijer, S. Paarlberg (et al.), ‘Kennerschap Bredius, Geen Cuyp, wel Calraet’, exh.cat. Museum Bredius, Den Haag 2015.