Jacob Cats
Altona 1741-Amsterdam 1799
A Wooded Landscape with a Boy Driving Cattle and Sheep, with the ruins of Brederode Castle and dunes in the background

PROVENANCE: Lord Fairhaven.

Signed and dated J: Cats inv et fec/ 1795 (verso)

Black chalk, pen and brown ink and watercolour, heightened with gum arabic, pen and brown ink framing lines

158 x 240 mm. (6 x 9 in.)


Jacob Cats was a painter and draughtsman, and he owes his fame largely due to his activities as a landscape artist. Indeed the art connoisseur C. Josi (1765-1828) (Lugt 573) commented on Jacob Cats watercolours: His compositions are done with a great facility. His rural scenes are rich, charming and natural.

Jacob Cats was the son of Johannes Cats, a Dutch book dealer, who moved back to Amsterdam from Germany following the death of his second wife. Jacob trained as a bookbinder, and as an engraver, first under Abraham Starre and later with Peter Louw. Cats had further training with the pattern designer Gerard van Rossum, and he became a wallpaper painter in the Amsterdam factory of Jan Hendrick Troost van Groenendoelen. Cats established his own wallpaper factory with financial assistance from his relative Willem Writs, Jan de Bosch and Johann Goll van Franckenstein the elder.

According to Jane Turner Cats drawings are usually signed and dated and often inscribed on the verso. Both these drawings are signed and dated on the verso. Cats most probably based his drawings on initial sketches, which were often made outside, and were used as models for the finished drawings. The present pair can be compared to 4 in the Rijksmuseum1.

The Brederode Castle, near Santpoort, Haarlem, was painted regularly by Dutch 17th Century artists, such as Meyndert Hobbema (1638-1709) and Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael. Brederode Castle is about 3 miles north of Haarlem and was built in the 13th Century and extensively ruined in 1573. The ruins and moat still exist today2.

1.Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 28 November 1997-3 March 1998, On Country Roads and Fields. The Depiction of the 18th & 19th Century Landscape, nos 24 (a-d).

2.The subject was first identified by Johan Bosch van Rosenthal and confirmed by Drs Erik Lffler. A drawing depicting the same two towers appear in a drawing by Antoine Andriessen, see Crispian Riley-Smith, Recent Acquisitions III, number 20, now in the British Museum