Philips Wouwerman. The Horse Painter of the Golden Age
Until recently a scholarly and aesthetic recognition
of Philips Wouwerman and his art was hardly
possible, due to the sheer number of paintings
handed down to us as well as to the spurious
attribution to Wouwerman of many works actually
made by his imitators and followers. The fact that
only a few of his pictures are dated made it
complicated to analyse his stylistic development on
the basis of a chronology.
Birgit Schumacher therefore pursues two main
thrusts with her monograph and catalogue on the
paintings by Philips Wouwerman.
On the one hand, she attempts a critical assessment
of his paintings.
Fundamental to any consideration of Wouwerman's production must be the 1908 oeuvre catalogue by Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, which built on John Smith's opus of 1829 to 1842. Hofstede de Groot attempted to separate the authentic pictures by the Haarlem painter from a bewildering number of wrongly attributed works, including countless imitations, in circulation. His catalogue listed an astonishing number of 1200 paintings - a number which Schumacher reduced in the present catalogue raisonée to an original core of ca 570 authentic works.
On the other hand, Schumacher intends to make a contribution to a comprehensive scholarly and aesthetic appreciation of Wouwerman's art in the light of his times.
The study begins with a biography of the artist based on extensive archival research with some additional notes on Wouwerman's brothers and followed by a discussion of the changing reputation of the artist in the art-historical literature since the seventeenth century. This is followed by a detailed examination and critical analysis of his stylistic development and artistic influences.
Subsequent chapters deal with a commentary on questions of iconography and with a discussion of the influence exerted by the art market and the taste of contemporary collectors on the content, form and style of his paintings, which is, in light of Wouwerman's enormous output, of particular importance. The final chapter is dedicated to the posthumous fame of Wouwerman in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The exhaustive catalogue raisonnée is divided into four parts: the first contains detailed information on accepted, verifiable paintings; the second comprises dubious attributions; the third and fourth part document the rejected works in public collections, as well as works that have been lost. The catalogue is complemented by comprehensive appendices which contain a list of archieval documents, indexes of past and present owners, a concordance with Hofstede de Groot's 1908 numbers and a detailed bibliography (see also Wikipedia).
The second volume of the catalogue shows illustrations of Wouwerman's paintings as well as comparative figures.
Published by Davaco Publishers, ISBN 90-70288-67-2 (= Aetas Aurea, vol. 20)