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Emanuel Murant

(1621 Amsterdam – circa 1700 Leeuwarden)

Yard with a Dilapidated Hut. Black chalk, grey wash. 26.9 x 20.1 cm. Watermark: Foolscap (Churchill 341, circa 1644).

According to Houbraken, the landscape painter Emanuel Murant is thought to have studied under Philips Wouwerman. His drawn oeuvre is not very extensive and quite rare. Just two signed drawings in his own hand are known; a number of other works have been attributed to him on the grounds of stylistic analogies with these autograph works. All the extant drawings are done in black chalk and have a meticulously executed grey wash.

The present drawing, once regarded as the work of Adriaen van Ostade because of the pencilled monogram in the bottom right-hand corner, shows a deserted yard. In it stands a hut, cobbled together with boards, that serves as a junk store or living space for a tramp. Next to the hut is a chaotic heap of utensils, tools and baskets together with items of clothing hanging on a washing line. A dead tree trunk and the occasional planks and sticks supply vertical accents. The drawing is executed in a clear and incisive manner; the careful, finely graded wash produces a striking chiaroscuro effect and the impression of gentle sunlight. The picturesque jumble stands out distinctly against the neutral background. The yard is deserted. Are the scattered tools and everyday objects signs of hard work or evidence of a life of indolence and harmful sloth?

From the collection of Friedrich Gauermann, Vienna (Lugt 1003, recto); verso with the collector’s marks of J. B. Petzoldt (L. 2024, 22025), F. Pokorny (L. 2036) and F. Gauermann (L. 1003). Cf. M. Schapelhouman, P. Schatborn, Tekeningen van Oude Meesters. De verzameling Jacobus A. Klaver, Zwolle 1993, Cat. no. 77, pp. 166–167, 250.

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