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Painting Title Old Woman Asleep
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Boursse, Esaias (Dutch painter, 1631-1672)
Date Earliest about 1660
Date Latest 1672

An old woman sits in a chair, her head resting on a cushion and turned to the left, a book on her lap. Esaias Boursse was a Dutch painter; he travelled to Italy (about 1650) and to Ceylon (1661), although those journeys are not reflected in his art. His paintings were mainly genre works, e.g. women spinning or sewing and families around a fireplace, and his work is reminiscent of Pieter de Hooch's. In 1672, Boursse sailed with the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company) for the second time and died at sea.

A study of an old man sitting in the kitchen of a similar composition and the same size and signed with monogram may have been pendant to YORAG : 755 (with Alfred Brod, London, 1958).

Current Accession Number YORAG : 755
Subject everyday life; interior; figure
Measurements 36.1 x 28.5 cm
Material oil on panel (oak)
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance Max Rothschild, from whom purchased by F. D. Lycett Gree 1928
Principal Exhibitions Seventeenth Century Art in Europe, Royal Academy, London, 1938, no. 261; F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 30; The Times of Our Lives, Exhibition I: Endings, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2000.
Publications Exhibition of 17th Century Art in Europe Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1938, cat. 261, p. 108; Nicholson, B., ‘The Lycett Green Gift to York', The Burlington Magazine, XCVII, April 1955, p. 99; PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 35, July 1956, vol. IX, p. 355; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 49, pl. 49; Wright, C. and Robertson, A., Dutch Seventeenth Century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds, 1982, p. 120; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 243.

There is an old label on the back of the frame 'Temple & Son, London'. According to Valentiner (Valentiner, W.R., Klassiker der Kunst: Pieter de Hooch, Berlin-Leipzig, 1929, p. XXXII, English ed. p. XXVIII) a painting showing an old woman asleep by the stove bore a false de Hooch signature. Another painting by Boursse, dated 1661, that is also falsely signed as by de Hooch, is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (Interior with a Woman at a Spinning Wheel, SK-A-767). It is possible that both paintings were created around the same time. However, it is very likely that Valentiner was not referring to YORAG : 755 (which does not contain de Hooch's signature), as he wrote that the painting is 'owned by a dealer in Paris' and that 'strong blue' was used on the old woman's costume.

Francis Denis Lycett Green (1893-1959) was a member of the wealthy industrial Green family from Wakefield that was among the great philanthropic benefactors of York. He began buying pictures during the 1920s, advised by some of the most famous art historians of the day. By the 1940s, he owned examples from almost every school and period of European Art – a comprehensive collection of over 130 paintings dating back from the early 14th century to the end of the 18th century, representing every important European school of art. In 1952, he offered it to the National Gallery of South Africa, having moved to Cape Town in the hope that the climate would improve his health (which was poor because he was badly injured in the First World War). However when a dispute arose with the Cape Town Gallery, Francis withdrew his pictures in protest and shipped them back to England. The entire collection of 130 pictures was at first on loan to the York Art Gallery and in the spring of 1955 he decided to give it to the Gallery.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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