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Title Landscape with Bridge in the Italian Countryside
Alternative Title Ponte Molle, near Rome; The Ponte Molle, on the Tiber; The Bridge of Augustus, Narni
Collection Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens, Barnsley
Artist Asselyn, Jan (Dutch painter, ca.1610-1652)
Date Earliest probably 1640
Date Latest 1652
Signed yes
Description Assleyn was born in Diemen near Amsterdam. He travelled to Italy about 1639-40 and painted there until 1643-44. He was a member of the Bent, the Roman society of Dutch artists. He returned to Amsterdam by 1647. He is one of the most distinguished of the Dutch Italianate artists. The bridge in this painting has at various times been identified as several different bridges in Italy. However, this is not a painting of any one bridge but is a capriccio of different motifs lifted from a number of bridges that the artist had seen in Italy.
Current Accession Number A1904
Inscription front lc 'JA'
Subject figure; animal (dog, donkey); townscape; landscape; place (Italy)
Measurements 43.2 x 49.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by the National Art-Collections Fund 2002.
Provenance Verst. Après décès, D. Schley ... Roos, Amsterdam, 21 August 1799, lot 2, bought by L. B. Coclers, fl. 244; Corneille-Louis Reynders, Brussels, by 1821; Corneille-Louis Reynders sale, Nieuwenhuys de man, Brussels, 6 August 1821, lot 1, bought by C. J. Nieuwenhuys, fl.490; C. J. Nieuwenhuys (1821-1833); C. J. Nieuwenhuys sale, Christie's, London, 10 May 1833, lot 36, as The Bridge of Augustus, bought by Harrison, £70 7s; Colonel Biré, 1834; Colonel Biré sale, Delanchy, Paris (;), 25 & 26 March 1841; bought from Messrs Rutley, London by William Harvey of Barnsley, 29 September 1849, as 'a beautiful picture by Asselyn', £110; by descent to Henry Harvey, J.P. (1867-1879); by descent to William Harvey of Leeds (1879-1917); given by William Harvey to National Loan Collection Trust, 19 June 1917; transferred to National Art-Collections Fund, 20 May 2002.
Principal Exhibitions National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868, cat. no. 665, as The Ponte Molle, on the Tiber; The Loan Collection of Works by 'Old Masters', and by deceased artists of the English and Foreign Schools, Municipal Art Gallery, Leeds, 1889-90, cat. no. 492, as Ponte Molle, on the Tiber,y; Art in the Seventeenth Century, National Gallery, London, 1976, cat. no. 2; Dutch 17th century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1982-83, cat. no. 10; Art Treasures of England: the Regional Collections, Royal Academy of Art, London, 22 January - 13 April 1998, cat. no. 301.
Publications Nieuwenhuys, C. J., 'Description of a part of the collection of pictures of Mr. Nieuwenhuys which was exhibited and sold by auction, as Messrs, Christie and Manson, King Street, St. James's Square, in May 1883', in A review of the lives and works of some of the most eminent painters: with remarks on the opinions and statements of former writers, London, 1834, pp. 65-67; Catalogue of Pictures in the National Loan Collection Trust, London, 1919, 1920, 1928, 1930, 1937, cat. no. 1, ill. pp. 8-9; Catalogue of Pictures in the National Loan Collection Trust, London, 1954, cat. no. 1, p. 3; Steland-Stief, A. C., Jan Asselijn nach 1610 bis 1652, Amsterdam, 1971, p. 71, no. 2 & pp. 153-4, no. 182, as Landschaft mit Einbogiger Steinbrücke. Typ Ponte Rotto; The William Harvey Collection of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, Cannon Hall Museum, 1975, cat. no. 1; Wright, C., Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century: Images of a Golden Age in British Collections, London, 1989, pp. 163-64, 274; Dutch 17th century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds, 1982, cat. no. 10; Foster, M. (ed.), Art Treasures of England: the Regional Collections, London, 1998, cat. no. 301, ill. p. 360.

Whilst using the same detailing as that of the Ponte Rotto, the single arch derives from the Ponte Augusto in Narni as suggested by the 1833 title of the work, Bridge of Augustus. None of the three bridges named have a circular tower at the beginning of the bridge as seen in the Barnsley painting. The scenery on either side of the bridge is again different to that used in Asselyn's paintings of the Ponte Rotto and is instead similar to that of the Ponte Molle and Ponte Augustus where the land rises sharply to the left of the bridge and a town at the top of the hill.

Asselyn's use of composition in the Cannon Hall painting is close to a work in Dresden which also has a group of figures standing on the bank of a river, dwarfed by the architecture that occupies the greater part of the composition. This work was also previously entitled, Ponte Molle, near Rome.

This painting is part of a collection formed by William Harvey of Barnsley (1811-1867). Harvey was a Quaker, whose family made its money in the linen industry. Most of the paintings were acquired between 1849 and 1866 through the dealer Thomas R. Rutley and his son Colonel J. L. Rutley. The company later traded as Messrs Rutley. The collection consists mainly of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings. On his death, the collection passed to Harvey's brother, Henry Harvey, J.P. (1814-1879). Nothing was added to the collection during this period and it was passed by descent to a nephew, William Harvey of Leeds. William Harvey of Leeds donated his collection to the National Loan Collection Trust in 1917. The purpose of the Trust was to lend pictures to regional galleries in England and the British Colonies. It was finally agreed to lend the collection on long term loan to Cannon Hall in Barnsley and in 2002 the collection was transferred to them on a permanent basis.

The work does not appear in either John Smith's or Hofstede de Groot's catalogues raisonné. Provenance details were taken from the catalogue raisonné by A.C. Steland-Stief, 1971. Additional information has now been added.

The painting was purchased at the auction in 1799 by a collector and painter by the name of L. B. Coclers. This work was not found in the catalogue of the sale of the collection of Colonel Biré, 25 & 26 March 1841, Paris (copy in National Art Library). Copies of the 1799 and 1821 auction catalogues were obtained at the RKD. It was purchased at the Reynders auction in 1821 by the auctioneer and collector C.J. Nieuwenhuys.

Auction catalogue entry: Catalogue of C.J.Nieuwenhuys, Christie's, London , 10 May 1833: John Asselyn 36. The Bridge of Augustus. Canvas; height 17 inches, width 19. A mountainous landscape, with a river flowing towards the foreground, which is traversed in part by the ruins of this superb bridge. Beyond, on the summit of very elevated ground, is seen the town of Narni. In front, on the declivity of a bank, is a group of figures with a grey horse, on which a man is riding; another has three asses, and a peasant is exciting a dog. This painting is equal to Karel du Jardin, and was formerly in the collection of M. Reynders, of Brussels.'

Rights Owner Cannon Hall Museum (Barnsley Metropolitan Council)
Author Dr Madeleine Korn



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