Case Studies

Sam has given new attributions to many interesting – sometimes partly unknown – works in museums, trade and collections. A selection of the highlights is listed below. For details, please refer to the literature overview.

02 mozaïk Vaticaan A falsification in the Museo Vaticano
A mosaic of an ‘early flower piece’ from a Roman villa, ca. third century, published in several well-known works as such, was identified as an eighteenth century falsification, after the flower cultivars and the style of the picture.

Van Eyck
About sixty plant species could be recognized in the famous ‘Mystic Lamb’ polyptique in Ghent, many more than were known at that time, with detailed information of their place in the work of art. It was also possible to trace links to medieval sources, mainly church fathers and exegetes.

Hans Hoffmann
Known from documentation but unknown at present, were watercolours of animals from the zoo of the emperor Rudolf II by Hans Hoffman, created in the second half of the 16th century. A series of these drawings was discovered in an album in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. Following this discovery, a painting by Hoffmann was found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, hitherto known as “Flemish”. Fritz Koreny has been asked to cooperate in a publication about my discoveries.

Adriaen Collaert and Crispyn de Passe the Elder
Sam found and described an unknown series of flower prints by Adriaen Collaert, forming an addition to his ‘Florilegium’. Since then, a few more copies have been discovered. The Altera Pars, part of Crispyn de Passe the Younger’s Hortus Floridus, published in 1614, was found to be a reprint of a work by his father Crispyn the Elder, and a few copies of the previously unknown original edition have been detected since.

Hieronymus Francken the Younger
Sam was able to trace some early ‘meal’ still-lifes, including a series of the rich and the poor kitchen. They belong to the earliest works in the Dutch still-life tradition, painted around 1600.

Fede Galizia
Based on an early monogrammed work by Fede Galizia dated 1607, work by this early Italian female painter could be discriminated from works wrongly attributed to her, e.g. by Panfilo Nuvolone.

Early dates of flower pieces
The dates 1603 on a work by Roelandt Savery and 1605 by Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Balthasar van der Ast and Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder
Many still-life paintings and flower pieces by these artists proved to show an underdrawing in black chalk as a primary sketch for the composition. This is, for instance, the case in the famous flower piece by Bosschaert in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Such underdrawings have since been recognized in works by a number of seventeenth and eighteenth century still-life artists. Balthasar van der Ast has also been identified as the artist of over 450 watercolours of flowers and shells, partly used and recognized as models for his paintings.

Artists of tulip books
Several ‘tulips books’, i.e. albums of watercolours of mainly or only tulips from the seventeenth century, were produced by unknown artists, from which several have now been identified.

Pieter Holsteyn the Younger has been discovered to be the painter of a number of tulip books and from a number of other flower drawings. A tulip book in the Museum Prinsenhof in Delft could be attributed to the Delft painter Jacob Vosmaer. Other seventeenth century tulip drawings were recognized as products by Anthony Claesz, including tulips in the famous tulip book by Judith Leyster in the Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem, which only contains a few works by Leyster. A series of tulip drawings in the Groninger Museum could be attributed to Franciscus de Geest.

Alexander Hoefnagel
Sam identified a “painting within a painting”, in fact a watercolour with the name “CAP: HOEFNAGEL” on the frame in a painting by David Teniers, as a work by the hitherto unknown Alexander Hoefnagel, and on the basis of that discovery Sam could attribute some other works to the same master. These works have erroneously been attributed to the more famous Georg Hoefnagel, who predates Alexander Hoefnagel by more than 60 years. Wrong conclusions on the work and style of Georg were drawn from these attributions.

Willem Kalf
Sam recognized a famous work by Kalf from his early Paris period in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, quoted by Goethe and reproduced in several well-known books, to be an eighteenth century copy.

Early and late works by Maria Sibylla Merian
Only a few copies are known of Maria Sibylla Merian’s earliest publication: the ‘Blumenbuch’ in three volumes, produced between 1675 and 1679, soon followed by a complete set, all with her own engravings. Several contr’épreuve copies of her later three volumes on the life and metamorphosis of caterpillars and butterflies and moths were known. These are copies with identical engravings as in the original works, but paper has been used, instead of the copper plate. They are mirrored (as in the original concepts) and have softer lines, so as to be coloured in by hand later, resembling original watercolours. A first contr’ épreuve copy of the Blumenbuch was discovered, coloured in by the artist, the only copy hitherto known using this technique. Late watercolours, painted after 1710, when the artist had become seriously ill, produced partly in collaboration with her daughter Johanna Helena, were found in a private collection.

Johanna Helena Herolt
The eldest daughter of Maria Sibylla Merian painted beautiful watercolours of flowers in her mother’s style. Sam identified a number of these works.

Watercolours by Willem de Heer, with later additions by Maria Sibylla Merian, and other works from the Agnes Block collection
It was known from an old handwritten inventory that Agnes Block, who had a famous botanical garden with many exotics, commissioned the best flower artists from her period to paint hundreds of these flowers. She commissioned Maria Sibylla Merian to paint butterflies into some 30 year old watercolours by Willem de Heer. Sam has been able to trace five examples of such works, following the discovery that Agnes Block had annotated the back of the watercolours. Sam could trace many drawings which made up part of her collection, and of which a considerable number are described in the inventory. About sixty of these have been discovered in an English private collection.

Hans Simon Holtzbecker

A new-found album with beautiful watercolours of flowers could be traced as a work by the German Hans Simon Holtbecker. A signed album was found in the British Museum in London. From this it was proved that a series of albums in the printroom in Copenhagen had been attributed to Holtzbecker in the nineteenth century but were later attributed to Maria Sibylla Merian. But they actually are works by Holtzbecker. Three more albums, one in the Mellon collection in Upperville (Virginia) attributed to Maria Sibylla Merian, could be traced as his works too.

New attributions
Several discoveries of works by Gerard and Cornelis van Spaendonck, and works by members of the De Heem family have been published. The provenance of several works by these artists and by Jan van Huysum. Jacob Marrel, Adriaen Coorte, Philip van Kouwenbergh, Cornelis Kick, Nicolaes Gillis, Jan Baptist Fornenburgh, Nicolaes Cave end others. Several copies of prints could be attributed by the real artist, engraver or publisher.

Over 100 publications on art are listed here.