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Traveler at Rest

Frans van Mieris (Leiden 1635 – 1681 Leiden)
date
ca. 1657
medium
oil on copper
dimensions
21.6 x 17.8 cm
signed information

signed, lower right: “F. van Mieris”

inventory number
FM-122
Currently on view: The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Print

Buvelot, Quentin. “Traveler at Rest.” In The Leiden Collection Catalogue. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. New York.

https://www.theleidencollection.com/archive/ (accessed October 23, 2018).

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Traveler at Rest, datable to about 1657, is one of Frans van Mieris’s earliest masterpieces. Beautifully executed and wonderfully preserved, this painting demonstrates why this Leiden master was famous for his ability to render light effects and the varied textures of materials. Van Mieris has here depicted a young, red-haired man sitting in the shade of ancient ruins partly overgrown with vegetation and gazing straight at the viewer. In his lap lies a rather large hat, and in his left hand he holds a flask with a wicker cover. Judging from the bag lying beside him, his walking stick, sagging stocking and the torn seam at his shoulder, the man has been traveling and has stopped in a cool spot to refresh himself. The landscape beyond the ruin’s arched opening is reminiscent of the sun-drenched images of the Dutch Italianates, whose paintings must have served as Van Mieris’s source of inspiration, since he never traveled to Italy.

Van Mieris painted a similar composition, but in reverse, on the easel in the interior of his The Painter in His Studio of about 1657 in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (). In that scene, a wealthy visitor or connoisseur studies the painting closely under the artist’s watchful eye. There, too, the painting on the easel features a man with a walking stick seated in a relaxed manner under the arched vault of an antique ruin (). He has removed a sock and a shoe to cool off and rest after his travels. In much the same manner, the sagging stocking in the Leiden Collection painting indicates that the traveler is at rest. Van Mieris emphasizes the traveler’s bared knee by having the young man rest his arm on it, a pose also seen in a depiction of a smoking man by Simon Kick (1603–52) and in Carel Fabritius’s (1622–54) Sentry from 1654 (Schwerin, Staatliches Museum). In each of these instances this motif indicates that the man is resting his tired feet.

The clothing of the man depicted in Traveler at Rest denotes a certain affluence, and he may very well have been a Dutchman who went to Italy and wanted to have his trip commemorated once he had returned to Leiden. The man’s face, which has all the striking features of an actual portrait, closely resembles that of the visitor in Van Mieris’s Dresden painting, who seems to have come to the artist’s studio to see how he has been represented. The tattered look, the direct gaze, and the Italianate setting in the Leiden Collection painting similarly indicate that the sitter wanted to stress his full engagement in the experience of being abroad. The directness of the portrait resembles that of cloth merchant Anthony de Bordes, who commissioned a portrait by Michael Sweerts (1618–64) in about 1648 (). De Bordes visited Italy in 1648, and the backdrop of his portrait—an obelisk standing in a park-like landscape with a fountain—places the scene in Rome. Whereas the merchant is helped out of his boots by a servant, suggesting he has just returned from riding in the Roman countryside, the man in Van Mieris’s painting has simply been walking.

In painting Traveler at Rest, Van Mieris used a copper plate, an ultra-smooth support ideally suited to his refined and meticulous technique. Interestingly, the artist, who had spent a short time training as a goldsmith, applied a layer of gold leaf over the copper ground. Rembrandt had done the same around 1629–30 in his Laughing Soldier. But while the latter artist allowed the gold to glint through the surface of the paint, Van Mieris covered up the gold with his preparatory layers. He may have wanted to protect the painting from the ravages of time, as gold shields the paint from copper’s oxidation. In any event, this expensive technique is another indication that the painting was commissioned by a wealthy individual who wanted his portrait painted as a reminder of his travels to Italy. Without knowing the details of Van Mieris’s technique, Gustav Friedrich Waagen (1797–1868), the director of the Berlin museums and the first professor of art history in that city, praised this painting in 1854 as being “of that soft golden tone, and of that delicate feeling, which distinguish his best pictures.”

The earliest known owner of Traveler at Rest is probably Jacob Hoofman (d. 1799). After his death, the painting must have been inherited by one of his art-loving daughters, either Margaretha Hoofman (1773–1807) or Maria Hoofman (1776–1845), who each inherited half of their father’s collection. After Margaretha’s death, her part of the paintings collection was inherited by her husband, Pieter Quarles van Ufford (1757–1834), who transferred the ownership of the most important works in this collection to his unmarried sister-in-law, Maria Hoofman, while others were sold anonymously in 1818. In or before 1819 the painting was part of the art collection of shipbuilder William Wells (1768–1847), who lived in Kent. After Wells’s death, the painting was acquired by Robert Staynor Holford (1808–92), a member of the British parliament. In 1857 Holford lent the painting to the famous exhibition in Manchester, Art Treasures of the United Kingdom. Apart from that exhibition, the painting remained at Holford’s London residence, Dorchester House, which his son, Sir George Holford (1860–1926), inherited in 1892. After the latter’s death, Traveler at Rest became the property of Giovanni Agnelli (1921–2003), head of the Italian automobile company Fiat in Turin. The painting entered a private collection in Germany in 1988, after which it was acquired by the New York collector Eric Martin Wunsch (1924–2013). In January 2014, this exquisite painting entered the Leiden Collection.

- Quentin Buvelot
2017
  • Probably Jacob Hoofman, Haarlem, by 1799; by descent to Maria or Margaretha Hoofman, Haarlem.
  • William Wells, Redleaf, Kent, by 1819 (sale, Christie’s, London, 12–13 May 1848, no. 85 [493 guineas to Fuller]).
  • Sir Robert Staynor Holford (1808–92), Dorchester House, London, 1848, and by descent to Sir George Lindsay Holford (1860–1926), Dorchester House, London (his sale, London; Christie’s, London, 17–18 May 1928, no. 21 [504 guineas to Boehler]).
  • Giovanni Agnelli (1921–2003), Turin, until 1988 [Otto Naumann Ltd., New York, from whom acquired by Diethelm Doll].
  • Diethelm Doll, Bad Godesberg, Bonn, 1988 [David Koetser Gallery, Zurich, from whom acquired by Eric Martin Wunsch].
  • Eric Martin Wunsch (1924–2013), New York (his sale, Christie’s, New York, 29 January 2014, no. 5).
  • From whom acquired by the present owner.
  • London, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, “Exhibition of Pictures of the Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch Schools,” 1819, no. 34 [lent by William Wells, Redleaf, Kent].
  • Manchester, City Art Gallery, “Exhibition of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom,” 1857, no. 1078 [lent by Sir Robert Staynor Holford].
  • London, Royal Academy of Arts, “Winter Exhibition: Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School,” January–March 1894, no. 49 [lent by Sir George Lindsay Holford, London].
  • Leiden, Lakenhal Museum, “Fêtes de Rembrandt à Leyde: L’exposition de tableaux et de dessins de Rembrandt et d’autres maîtres de Leyde, du dix-septième siècle,” 15 July–15 September 1906, no. 27 [lent by Sir George Lindsay Holford, London].
  • London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, “Winter Exhibition: Pictures and Other Objects of Art Selected from the Collections of Mr. Robert Holford (1808–1892),” 1921–22, no. 35 [lent by Sir George Lindsay Holford, London].
  • The Hague, The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, “Frans van Mieris 1635–1681: Painted Perfection,” 1 October 2005–22 January 2006; Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, 26 February–21 May 2006, no. 10.
  • Paris, Museé du Louvre, “Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt,” 22 February–22 May 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Beijing, National Museum of China, “Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 17 June–3 September 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 23 September 2017–25 February 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 28 March 2018–22 July 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 5 September 2018–13 January 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom. Catalogue of Pictures of the Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch Schools. Exh. cat. London, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom. London, 1819, no. 34.
  • Buchanan, William. Memoirs of Painting: With a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution. 2 vols. London, 1824, 1:206.
  • Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829–42. 1:81, no. 79.
  • Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated MSS., etc. Translated by Elizabeth Eastlake. 3 vols. London, 1854–57, 2:200.
  • City Art Gallery. Catalogue of the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom: Collected at Manchester in 1857. Exh. cat. Manchester, City Art Gallery. London, 1857, 74, no. 1078.
  • Bürger, William [Etienne-Joseph-Théophile Thoré]. Trésors d’Art en Angleterre. Paris, 1865, 279.
  • Champlin, John Denison, and Charles C. Perkins. Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. 4 vols. New York, 1886–87, 3:265.
  • Royal Academy of Arts. Winter Exhibition: Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School… Exh. cat. London, Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1894, 14, no. 49.
  • Roberts, William. Memorials of Christie’s: A Record of Art Sales from 1766–1896. 2 vols. London, 1897, 2:156.
  • Lakenhal Museum. Fêtes de Rembrandt à Leyde: Catalogue de l’exposition de tableaux et de dessins de Rembrandt et d’autres maîtres de Leyde, du dix-septième siècle. Exh. cat. Leiden, Lakenhal Museum. Leiden, 1906, 12, no. 27.
  • Von Wurzbach, Alfred. Niederländisches Künstler-Lexicon. 3 vols. Vienna and Leipzig, 1906–11, 2:195.
  • Mireur, Hippolyte. Dictionnaire des ventes d’art faites en France et à l’éntranger pendant les XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. 7 vols. Paris, 1911–12, 5:187.
  • Graves, Algernon. A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813–1912. 5 vols. New York, 1913, 2:777–78.
  • Graves, Algernon. Art Sales From Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. 3 vols. London, 1918–21, 2:220.
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club. Catalogue of Pictures and Other Objects of Art Selected from the Collections of Mr. Robert Holford (1808–1892) mainly from Westonbirt in Gloucestershire. Exh. cat. London, Burlington Fine Arts Club. London, 1921, 26, no. 35.
  • Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch        Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith. Edited and        translated by Edward G. Hawke. 8 vols. London, 1907–28, 10:28, no. 101. Originally    published as Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten         höllandischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907–28.
  • Benson, Robert. The Holford Collection: Dorchester House. 2 vols. London, 1927, 2:32, no. 156.
  • Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire Critique et Documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. 10 vols. Paris, 1953, 4:117.
  • Naumann, Otto. Frans van Mieris (1635–1681) the Elder. 2 vols. Doornspijk, 1981, 1:44–46; 2:18–19, no. 16.
  • Moiso-Diekamp, Cornelia. Das Pendant in der Holländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt am Main, 1987, 383, no. D6.
  • Buvelot, Quentin. “Le Repo devant l’auberge.” In Tableaux flamands et hollandais du Museé Fabre de Montpellier. Edited by Quentin Buvelot, Michel Hilaire, and Oliver Zeder, 195, no. 6. Exh. cat. Paris, Netherlands Institute; Montpellier, Fabre Museum. Paris and Montpellier, 1998.
  • Horowitz, Isabel. “The Materials and Techniques of European Paintings on Copper Supports.” In Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, 1575–1775. Edited by Michael Komanecky, 88, n. 41. Exh. cat. Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum; Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; The Hague, Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis. New York, 1999.
  • Laabs, Annegret, and Christoph Schölzel. Von der lustvollen Betrachtung der Bilder: Leidener Feinmaler in der Dresdener Gemäldegalerie. Exh. cat. Dresden, Old Masters Picture Gallery. Leipzig, 2000, 65, 67, n. 120.
  • Laabs, Annegret and Christoph Schölzel. The Leiden fijnschilders from Dresden. Edited by Christiaan Vogelaar, 69, n. 18. Exh. cat. Leiden, Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal. Zwolle,       2000.
  • Beaujean, Dieter. “Der Besuch im Atelier, um 1655.” In Wettstreit der Künste: Malerei und Skulptur von Dürer bis Daumier. Edited by Ekkehard Mai and Kurt Wettengl, 328. Exh. cat. Munich, Haus der Kunst; Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Wolfratshausen, 2002.
  • Buvelot, Quentin, Otto Naumann, and Eddy de Jongh. Frans van Mieris 1635–1681. Edited by Quentin Buvelot, 98–100, no. 10, 232, no. 16. Exh. cat. The Hague, Mauritshuis; Washington, National Gallery of Art. Zwolle, 2005.
  • McCarthy, Alexa.  “Traveler at Rest.” In Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt. Edited by Blaise Ducos and Dominique Surh, 2017, 46, no. 13. Exh. cat. Paris, Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2017.
  • McCarthy, Alexa.  “Traveler at Rest.” In Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt. Edited by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 102; 187, no. 41. Translated by Li Ying. Exh. cat. Beijing, National Museum of China. Beijing, 2017.
  • Journal of National Museum of China 169, no. 8 (2017): front cover.
  • Long Museum, West Bund. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Exh. cat. Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund. Shanghai, 2017, 116–17.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Child’s Lesson.” In The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection. Edited by Polina Lyubimova, 134–35; 238, no. 34. Translated by Daria Babich and Daria Kuzina. Exh. cat. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum. Moscow, 2018.

The painting was examined in normal and ultraviolet light, without the benefit of X-radiographs, infrared reflectography or microscopy.

The support is a thin metal plate, estimated to be copper possibly with a coating of gold. It has been adhered to a wooden panel with a vertical grain and thin wooden strips have been added to all four edges, creating a collar. A cradle has been attached to the back of the panel.

The ground is either extremely thin or non-existent. The paint was applied wet-into-wet with the lights and darkest darks painted on top of the mid-tones. The artist layered fine, delicate strokes on top of one another, dragging paint from the lower layer to blend the colors. He used broader strokes in the background and very fine strokes in the figure. The foliage was painted in thin glazes. A 1.0cm high dark brown strip, which may be a later addition, was painted along the bottom edge.

The copper is in plane, though there are slight indentations in the upper right quadrant and in the sitter’s proper left thigh. A wavy, indented line is visible along the bottom but this may be in the paint or varnish.There is an extremely find craquelure pattern throughout the paint, which is more visible in the darks. Tiny paint losses mark the intersections of the cracks in the background. There are losses in the sitter’s proper left sleeve, proper right chest and shoulder, and in the sky in the arch.

The support is a thin metal plate that is estimated to be copper. A small area of the plate is exposed in the bottom right corner, revealing a copper color. It may be coated with gold. It has been adhered, presumably with glue, to a wooden panel with a vertical grain. Wooden strips have been added to all four edges, creating a collar, so that the edges and back of the plate are completely obscured. A cradle with three vertical members and three horizontal member was attached to the back of the panel. The cradle extends onto the wooden strips.

Either a very thin ground or no ground is present. In cracks and areas of loss the copper plate is exposed and no ground is visible. However, the painting has a slightly lumpy, grainy texture. It is unclear if this is indicative of a ground or if the texture is in the plate and/or the paint.

The paint is estimated to be oil, though no analysis has been done. It was painted wet-into-wet with the lights and darkest darks painted on top of the mid-tones. The artist layered fine, delicate strokes on top of one another, dragging paint from the lower layer to blend the colors. He used broader strokes in the background and very fine strokes in the figure. The foliage was painted in thin glazes. A dark brown strip, approximately 1.0 cm high, was painted along the bottom edge. It is unclear if this was a later addition.

The painting is coated with a natural resin varnish.

The copper plate is stable and remains in mostly in plane. There is a slight indentation in the upper right quadrant. The indentation measures approximately 2cm by 4 cm. Another small indentation is found in the sitter’s proper left thigh. A wavy, indented line is visible along the bottom but it is unclear if this indentation is in the paint, the varnish or the copper plate.

An extremely fine craquelure pattern extends throughout the paint, though it is more visible in the darks. A fair number of tiny paint losses mark the intersections of the cracks in the background, especially in the upper left quadrant, and in the sitter’s dark sleeves. There is a cluster of small losses in the sitter’s proper left sleeve near his elbow. Additional losses are found in the sitter’s proper right chest and shoulder, above his hat. A larger loss is located in the sky in the arch.

The varnish is slightly thick, but it remains clear and even.

Versions and Copies

  1. Copy after Frans van Mieris the Elder, A Traveler at Rest, oil on panel, 21.5 x 17.5 cm, current whereabouts unknown; formerly J. Borie (his sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, 21 March 1977, no. 5); G. Tournier (his sale, Palais d’Orsay, Paris, 8 December 1977, no. 11, as by Ary de Vois).
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