Art at Auction in 17th Century Amsterdam

By John Michael Montias | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 23
When Sellers and Buyers Were Related:
Elbert and Cornelis Symonsz. Pool,
Jeltge Claes, and Pieter Claesz. Codde

Several of the selected buyers I have focused on, including Hans Thijsz. II, Hans van Soldt I and II, and Jan van Maerlen, were successful merchants of recent Antwerp origin. The late owners of the goods sold, Elbert Symonsz. Pool and Pieter Claesz. Kod (or Codde), both had roots in Amsterdam.

Elbert Symonsz. Pool was a butter merchant, with no known activity as a freighter of ships as Hans Thijsz. I had been. Pieter Claesz. Codde, called Kod in the sale of his possessions, lived from 1577 to 1622. He was a rope-maker (touwslager). Both Pool and Codde were comfortably well off but certainly less so than the buyers we have studied so far. They were both Reformed; if they were not Remonstrants themselves, they belonged to a Remonstrant milieu. Some of the members of their families, as we shall see, were Roman Catholic. One member married into a prominent Mennonite family. This mixture of religious affiliations was by no means unique in Amsterdam in the first half of the seventeenth century. It is remarkable that several members of the next generation attained social prominence in Amsterdam, including one who became a member of the Amsterdam Vroedschap, an elevation rarely achieved by the sons of Antwerp-born merchants.

The sale of Elbert Pool’s possessions took place on 4 December 1620, that of Pieter Claesz. Codde on 30 October 1624. The relatively low ratio of the value of the works of art owned by Elbert Pool to the total value of his movable goods (3.4 percent of a total of f 3,412.6), assuming that the sale included all his goods, suggests that he was not a real art collector. It was higher in the case of Codde (9.8 percent of a total of f 2,609) but, as I shall explain presently, the bulk of the paintings he owned were represented by two pairs of biblical scenes that he may have had a special reason for acquiring. As was typical of minor sales, the buyers at these two sales were almost all family members or resellers/uitdraagsters. The two principal exceptions were well-known Remonstrant merchants. The reason that I have singled out these rather mediocre sales is that the Pool sale contained a pair of paintings by Lastman and Pynas (unrecorded in the literature), which seem to have cropped up again in the Codde sale, and that Pieter Claesz. Codde was apparently related to Pieter Lastman. The two buyers of these lots, in 1620 and 1624 respectively, were Jeltge Claes and Cornelis Symonsz. Pool. But first a few more words need to be said about Elbert Symonsz. Pool and Pieter Claesz. Codde.

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