Crispian Riley-Smith Fine Arts Ltd


Inside Advice

This Article First Appeared In Art Of England September 2008

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If I had a time machine I would go back 30 years and buy all the Spanish drawings I could find on the market, and wait for the market to turn. I could have certainly picked up drawings by Ribera and Goya at the fraction of the cost of them today. What would time travellers be buying today? There are opportunities in any market, and there are certainly good buys to be had today, but what are they? For my money I think Dutch 18th and 19th Century drawings are a wonderful buy for value and quality. The Dutch 17th Century is rightly regarded as the ‘Golden Age’ and drawings from this period are out of the reach of most pockets, and the supply is severely diminished. The market has been thoroughly picked over by collectors over the last few hundred years. Conversely the 18th Century has been largely ignored. The supply of drawings and watercolours in the Dutch 18th Century is more bountiful in relation to the 17th Century. Also crucially the drawings and watercolours are in a better condition, and wonderful examples are to be had by major artists of the period.

But why has the 18th Century been ignored?  This anomaly has occurred for a number of reasons, firstly it is not as important art historically as the 17th Century, however this does not mean there are not some impressive images and artists working in this period. The Dutch 18th Century artist was not as confident as the 17th Century artist, indeed many of the 18th Century looked back to the 17th Century in their work. This is regarded as a bit ‘unadventurous’ by the market, and has resulted in the market downgrading the 18th Century. However if you look at work by such artists asAert Schouman (Dordrecht 1710-1792 The Hague), Jacob Cats (Altona 1741-Amsterdam 1799),  Jacob de Wit (Amsterdam 1695-Amsterdam 1754) or Daniël Dupré (Amsterdam 1752-Amsterdam 1817) you will see some great work. It is not as if this area has been totally ignored, I myself have been buying and selling in this area over the last 10 years and have sold to many private clients and museums, and hold an on-line archive of these purchases for all to see and study. Another reason why the 18th Century has been ignored could have been the lack of research, however this is not the case, the field is well documented and there are scholars publishing in this field, some of the most important I mention at the end of this article.

Related reading material.   J.W. Niemeijer, Eighteenth-Century Watercolours from the Rijksmuseum Print room, Amsterdam, Zwolle, 1993.