|European Watercolors — Abraham van Meertens - A Hawk or Harrier|
|Abraham van Meertens - A Hawk or Harrier
Medium: Watercolor and gouache on paper over indications in black chalk
Dimensions: 17 x 10.2 inches
Abraham van Meertens (Dutch, 1757-1823)
Like several of the works illustrated by natural history artist Aert Schouman, this watercolor by Abraham Meertens was once owned by the renowned Dutch collectors Saam and Lily Nijstad, whose magnificent artistic eyes allowed for the formation of the Unicorno Collection. This spectacular compendium of works on paper numbered five hundred pieces and only contained drawings considered to be the finest in quality and condition. The importance and magnitude of the Unicorno Collection was recognized by the Dutch national art historical documentation agency (the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie), the Rembrandt House Museum and the Dordrechts Museum which, in collaboration, have researched and documented every drawing in this remarkable collection. The Dutch drawing scholars Charles Dumas and Robert-Jan te Rijdt undertook the task of cataloguing each individual watercolor and drawing.
The collection, which was started in 1949, has now been dissolved, but it is fitting that such highly regarded pieces of art are now available to become highlights of other new and growing collections.
The works of Aert Schouman figured strongly in the Unicorno Collection, as did that of his follower, Abraham Meertens. Meertens was quick to learn Schouman’s color palette and compositional arrangement, as well as his technique of capturing natural history subjects in watercolor and washes. This painting originates from a group of approximately one hundred bird and animal drawings formerly attributed to Aert Schouman. L. J. Bol, director of the Dordrechts Museum and Schouman scholar, was invited to the United States to examine in 1972, but unable to make the journey, he asked Saam Nijstad to go in his place. Nijstad concluded that the drawings were not by Schouman but by his follower Abraham Meertens. A year later, Saam Nijstad purchased the entire group. This painting bears a stamp reading “MADE IN HOLLAND.” At the time of its importation into the United States, it had been marked as such in order to avoid American customs duty on the re-importation of domestically produced objects.