An unknown painting of Nijmegen from around the 18th century has surfaced at an American art auction. ‘Probably Paris’, was the description, ‘probably Paris’. But art dealer Patrick Peeters knew better. As an art lover and connoisseur, he knew immediately that it was a scene near Nijmegen.
The painting shows the city from the other side of the Waal near Lent. The name of the painting and who made it is unknown. Peeters recognized the contours of the old city and wanted the painting. Although it was clear from the description that the auction house had not recognized that it was Nijmegen, many American art dealers were also interested. According to Peeters, the auction was exciting right up to the last moment.
‘As if you discovered a treasure’
After a few weeks he learned that he was the lucky owner of the painting. “It gives me a certain feeling”, he says enthusiastically. “It is childlike, like discovering a treasure.”
A few more muggy days followed during the transport to the Netherlands, about two weeks ago. “It is a huge painting. At one point it arrived in Stuttgart, but it stayed there for days,” says the art dealer. “At one point I saw via track & trace that it was missing. Then I had a hard time. Apart from the money, it would be very annoying that you discover something so unique and it goes missing.”
Probably the canvas was between other packages and therefore could not be found, Peeters suspects. Four days later he saw that the curtain had reappeared.
He says it is remarkable that there is nowhere a description of the work in the archives. He has not yet been able to discover a signature of a maker. He hopes to find more information about where the painting comes from in American archives.
An art historian from Nijmegen, Paul Dickmann estimates that the painting was made after 1730. At the time it was popular to paint cityscapes, he tells the AD. “That year there was not yet an oil lantern at the ferry sidewalk as you can see it to the left of the carriage in the foreground.” According to him, that is unique. He knows no other painting that shows this lantern.
The city was popular with painters from all over the country because of its wide river and its location on the hills. That is why the painter does not have to be from the city, the art historian thinks.
The work dates from before 1784, Peeters thinks, because on the far left you can see the medieval Lappentoren that collapsed that year.
He hopes that the canvas will soon be a museum for everyone who cares about Nijmegen. “But first I still enjoy the search for the origin of the painting. That is actually the nicest part of the art trade.”