Signed with initials in the left hand corner H:N:
Black chalk, pen and brown ink and watercolour, pen and brown ink framing lines
134 x 188 mm. (5 x 7 3/8 in.)
H. Numan, Vierentwintig Printtekeningen met couleurem, verbeeldende Hollandsche buitenplaztzen, met derzelver beschrijvingen. Amsterdam, 1797, plate 7
Together with Aert Schouman and Juriaan Andriessen, Hermanus Numan must be numbered as one of the best Dutch watercolourists pur sang who were active in the eighteenth century, according to Robert-Jan te Rijt3. According to Niemeijer: Numan was unquestionably one of the most accomplished watercolourists of his day.4
Hermanus Numan worked as a painter, draughtsman and etcher of landscapes, and to a lesser extent portraits. He grew up in the Northern city of Groningen where his family ran a shop which produced lacquered and painted tinware. He learnt decorative painting under Johannes Franciscus Franc, and later in Haarlem was apprenticed to Jan Augustini. Numan was accompanied by Egbert van Drielst. After four years he returned home to work on portrait commissions. In about 1768 Numan went to Paris to finish off his studies, under the financial support of Petrus Camper. In France he worked under Hall, and was also taught by Jacques-Philippe Le Bas. In 1771 he returned to Groningen before settling in Amsterdam, where he enrolled in the Drawing Academy. Whilst in Amsterdam Numan painted portraits and worked with Juriaan Andriessen on stage sets for the new Playhouse, and gave drawings lessons to amateurs.
The present watercolour is one of the rare examples by Numan on the market which have been engraved for this important publication [Figure 1], Vier-en-twintig printtekeningen (Twenty-Four Print Drawings), that he drew between 1793 and 1797, which has been recently discussed by Drs Munnig Schmidt5. Drs Munnig Schmidt has confirmed the attribution of the present watercolour to Hermanus Numan. According to Robert-Jan te Rijt, who discussed this group of etchings and watercolours in the influential exhibition in 1997, These handcoloured line etchings all depicted recently modernized estates and gardens. In the accompanying text, too, Numan showed himself to be a fervent advocate of the new style in gardens, greeting all the landscape and architectural innovations with enthusiastic praise. In his prospectus Numan had already announced that the modern taste in the construction of country houses in our country is just as charming, just as natural and unconstrained as in other nations. With this publication, Numan breathed new life into the once so popular country and topographical genre. In his drawings, as in the parks themselves, it was not the architecture which played the leading role, but rather the interplay of architecture and nature.6
1.Rhea Blok has commented that this collectors mark appears on Dutch, Flemish and German 19th Century drawings, written communication 24th September 2009.
2.Drs Munnig Schmidt has kindly pointed out that the inscription must refer to Jhr.G.J. Beeldsnijder van Voshol who owned Rupelmonde from 1818-1829.
3.Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, exhibition catalogue with entries by Wiepke Loos, Robert-Jan te Rijdt, Marjan van Heteren, On Country Roads and Fields. The Depiction of the 18th and 19th Century Landscape, 28 November 1997-3 March 1998 under note 20.
4.J.W. Niemeijer, Eighteenth Century Watercolours from the Rijksmuseum Printroom, Amsterdam, Virginia, 1993, p. 108.
5.Drs E. Munnig Schmidt, Hoffwerk, Over Holland en Rupelmonde door Hermanus Numan (1744-1820) getekend in Jaarboekje 2001,Van Het Oudheidkunidig Niftarlake, pp23-9.
6.Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, loc cit, 1997. The watercolour The country house Hofwerk on the river Vecht near Breukelen [entry number 20], which is in the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, measures 171 x 234 mm is very close in size, format and technique to the present watercolour of Rupelmonde.