Dulwich Picture Gallery I

RKD STUDIES

Explanation of the Entries

The entries of this catalogue are closely related to two databases of the RKD: RKDimages and RKDartists&. When the RKD links are clicked, the most recent version of a record is retrieved. This means that, in due time, discrepencies may occur between the text in the entries and the databases regarding the (spelling of) names of the artists and the information about the artworks. These databases are updated daily on the basis of recent publications or research by RKD employees. Even during the period when I was working at the RKD some names of artists changed (Karel Dujardin became Karel du Jardin; Jan van Huysum became Jan van Huijsum and Charles de Hooch became Chaerles de Hooch).

In principle, artists' names are those used by the RKD. The RKD's starting point is to use the name that the artist him- of herself used most frequently when signing works or documents.

Not only does the RKD website change daily: other institutions are also modernizing their websites. That happened while working on this catalogue: I had to replace all links to the Teylers Museum website and to those of the British Museum. No doubt more museums and galleries will update their websites; sometimes they can still be reached via the old link, but usually not. Unfortunately, some of the links in the catalogue will stop working at some point, unless, like the RKD does, permalinks are used.

In the seventeenth century pictures were rarely given titles. Some have traditional but incorrect titles, such as Rembrandt's A Girl at a Window (there is no window). I have not attempted to standardize all titles, since most are modern inventions anyway. They can be different in museums and galleries, in monographs on the artist concerned, and in the database of the RKD. French and British printmakers in the eighteenth century gave titles to the reproductions they made of seventeenth-century pictures, such as Le Soir, Le Matin or Contented Peasants. The RKD uses a description, as does the British Museum (for instance 'Landscape with to the left a tree and to the right three shepherds'). The only thing that provides certainty when identifying a work of art is the inventory number when it is in a museum collection. We have to consider measurements to ascertain the identity of works of art in the art trade or at auctions, and even those don’t offer any certainty, since different versions of a theme by the same painter might be in the same size.

Provenance can be complicated. Desenfans, as an art dealer, was in the habit of offering his paintings several times at auctions or in private sales. When the price reached was not high enough, he bought the work himself to offer it again at another sale. It is not uncommon for a painting to appear in Desenfans sales several times. Selling at a good price may have been his primary goal, but the fact that he also advertised himself and his paintings in this way must have had an excellent side effect. When a painting comes from the Desenfans / Bourgeois collection, it will feature in the inventory made by John Britton in 1813. When it comes from Cartwright's collection, the inventory that must have been made shortly before 1686 is quoted. See also the discussions of Cartwright and Desenfans and Bourgeois in the Introduction.

For References, in principle the hanging of the Desenfans / Bourgeois paintings in the rooms of the museum by Sir John Soane can be traced clearly in the various catalogues published between 1817 and 1876: the paintings were numbered in the order in which they appeared, starting in the 'First Room'. When a rehang was made, the paintings were given new numbers. Only the entries in the 1817 catalogue made by the first Keeper, Ralph Cockburn , are included here, showing the room (and wall) where a work was hung. These renumberings ceased in 1892, when the paintings were given the inventory numbers they still have today.

The Technical notes were written by Sophie Plender, Dulwich Picture Gallery's permanent Conservator for many years, based on the conservation files of DPG, the content of which she had formed herself in many cases.

Works of art mentioned in the text of an entry are listed under Related works. An image is included only if it is essential. Works that are less important for the argument in an entry can be found in the notes and retrieved there. The notes also contain references to the websites of other museum and institutions.


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