Govaert Flinck - Landscape with an Obelisk, 1638

Govaert Flinck (Cleves, Germany, 1615 - 1660, Amsterdam)

Landscape with an Obelisk, 1638

Oil on oak panel, 54.5 x 71 cm (21 7/16 x 27 15/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Stolen in 1990.


Hesse-Kassel ducal collection, by about 1775. (as Flinck)Removed from the Hesse-Kassel collection by Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte (1784-1860), youngest brother of Napoléon I (1769-1821), during the Napoleonic wars, 1816.Probably taken to Paris by Jérôme Bonaparte, where the inscription was altered (?).Collection of Samuel Woodburn (1780/5-1853), British art dealer, by 1853 (?).Purchased by a certain Norton from the Samuel Woodburn sale at Christie and Manson, London for £9 on 15 May 1854, lot 77 (?). (as Rembrandt)Collection of the French collector Baron Étienne Martin de Beuronville (1789-1876), by 1876.Offered at the auction of de Beuronville's collection in Paris on 9 May 1881, lot 434. Unsold. (as Rembrandt)Offered at the auction of de Beuronville's collection in Paris on 21 May 1883, lot 84. Unsold (?). (as Rembrandt)Purchased by the Austrian collector and dealer Alexander Posonyi (active 1868-1890), Vienna at the auction of de Beuronville's collection in Paris for 4,650 francs on about 3 June 1884, lot 292. (as Rembrandt)Collection of Hungarian collector Georg Ráth (1828-1904), Budapest, before 1900.Purchased by the art dealers Colnaghi & Co., London from Georg Ráth for about 100,000 marks, about January 1900. (as Rembrandt)Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Colnaghi & Co., London for £4,500 in March 1900, through Bernard Berenson (1865-1959), American art historian. (as Rembrandt)Stolen in 1990.


Inscribed (lower right): G. F[...]nck f 16.8 [the second 'f' (for 'fecit') has been painted over, in 19th century (?) paint, with an 'R'; a '3', removed during conservation treatment, 1947-1948, had been added in modern paint; the entire inscription was formerly read as "R. 1638"]
Inscribed (on a label for the 1898 Rembrandt exhibition, Amsterdam affixed to the panel, verso): No. 41


Christie and Manson. Catalogue of the Highly Important and Very Valuable Collection of Pictures...Samuel Woodburn, Esq... (London, 15-23 May 1854), p. 12, lot 77. (as by Rembrandt; probably refers to this painting)
Charles Pillet et al. Catalogue des Tableaux Anciens de Toutes les Écoles Composant La tres importante collection de M. le Bon [sic] de Beurnonville... (Paris, 14-16 March 1881), p. 263, lot 434. (as by Rembrandt, 1668)
Paul Chevallier et al. Catalogue de Tableaux de Maitres Anciens et de Tableaux et Dessins Modernes Appartenant à M. le baron de B [sic]... (Paris, 21-22 May 1883), pp. 57-58, lot 84. (as by Rembrandt, 1668)
Paul Chevallier et al. Catalogue de 300 Tableaux Anciens et des Objects d'Art et d'Ameublement...Collection de M. le baron de Beaurnonville... (Paris, 3 June 1884), p. 90, lot 292. (as by Rembrandt, 1668; with a qualifying note regarding the picture's authenticity)
Émile Michel. Rembrandt: Sa Vie, son Oeuvre et son Temps (Paris, 1893), pp. 314, 559. (as the pendant to Rembrandt's Landscape with the Good Samaritan, 1638, housed in the Muzeum Ksiazat Czartoryskich, Kraków, accession no. XII-290)
Eugène Dutuit. L'oeuvre complet de Rembrandt (Paris, 1883-1885), p. 22. (as not by Rembrandt)
Cornelis Hofstede De Groot et al. Rembrandt Tentoonstelling. Exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum te Amsterdam, 1898), no. 41. (as by Rembrandt)
Wilhelm von Bode and Cornelis Hofstede de Groote. The Complete Work of Rembrandt: History, Description and Heliographic Reproduction of all the Master's Pictures, with a Study of his Life and his Art, vol. 4 (Paris, 1900), pp. 4, 50, no. 250. (as by Rembrandt)
Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 14. (as by Rembrandt)
John Lafarge et al. Noteworthy Paintings, vol. 1 (New York, 1907), pp. 62, 100-01, 200-03, ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1637-1640; the signature as not in Rembrandt's hand, copied from an original signature no longer extant)
Wilhelm Reinhold Valentiner. Rembrandt des Meisters Gemälde in 643 Abbildungen (Stuttgart, 1908), p. 231, ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Cornelis Hofstede De Groot et al. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, Based on the Work of John Smith, vol. 6 (London, 1916), p. 430, no. 941. (as by Rembrandt; the signature as "later")
Max Eisler. Rembrandt als Landschafter (Munich, 1918), pp. 190, 195, fig. 116. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Morris Carter. Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925; Reprint, Boston, 1972), p. 180. (as by Rembrandt)
Wilhelm von Bode. "Rembrandts landschaft mit der Bruke." Jahrbuch der Preussischen Kunstsammlungen, vol. 46 (1925), pp. 162-63. (as very similar to Rembrandt)
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 297-98, ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1633 or 1638; the latter date is more probable)
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 180. (as by Rembrandt)
Otto Benesch. Rembrandt: Werkund Forschung (Vienna, 1935), p. 26. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
A. Bredius. The Paintings of Rembrandt (Vienna, 1936), no. 443. (as by Rembrandt)
Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), pp. 44, 60 ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Jakob Rosenberg. Rembrandt (Cambridge, 1948), p. 97, no. 141. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Ludwig Münz. Rembrandt (New York, 1954), p. 86. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
H. Gerson. "Rembrandt in Poland." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (1956), p. 280. (as related to Rembrandt's Landscape with the Good Samaritan, 1638)
Gerard Knuttel. Rembrandt: de meester en zijn werk (Amsterdam, 1956), pp. 113, 279. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Graf von Joachim Wolfgang Moltke. Govaert Flinck, 1615-1660 (Amsterdam, 1965), no. 154. (as formerly and wrongly attributed to Flinck)
Kurt Bauch. Rembrandt Gemälde (1966), pl. 546. (as by Rembrandt, about 1639?; suggests the inscription is false)
Jakob Rosenberg, Seymour Slive, et al. Dutch Art and Architecture, 1600-1800 (Baltimore, Maryland, 1966), p. 58, pl. 38A. (as by Rembrandt, about 1638?)
Wolfgang Stechow. Dutch Landscape Painting of the Seventeenth Century (New York, 1966), p. 136, pl. 275. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Ludwig Münz et al. Rembrandt (New York, 1967), pp. 58, 83-86, ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
A. Bredius. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of Paintings (Vienna, 1969), pp. 353, 589, no. 443. (as by Rembrandt, 1638?)
Richard Hamann. Rembrandt (Berlin, 1969), p. 298. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Arpino Giovanni. L'opera pittorica completa di Rembrandt (Milan, 1969), p. 107, no. 213. (as by Rembrandt, 1638?, the inscription as difficult to interpret)
Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann et al. (eds.). Rembrandt After 300 Years: An Exhibitoin of Rembrandt and his Followers. Exh. cat. (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1969), p. 704. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 204-06, ill., pl. XXXI. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Christopher Wright. Rembrandt and his Art (New York, 1975), pp. 45-47, pl. 33. (as by Rembrandt, dated 1638)
Madlyn Millner Kahr. Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century (New York, 1978), pp. 117-18, 313, no. 90. (as by Rembrandt, about 1638?)
John Walsh Jr. "Paintings in the Dutch Room" in James Thomas Herbert Baily (ed.). The Connoisseur: An Illustrated Magazine for Collectors, "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum" (London, 1978), pp. 52-53, no. 4. (as by Rembrandt, dated 1638)
Ernest Samuels. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur (Cambridge, 1979), pp. 337-38. (as by Rembrandt)
Christopher Wright. Rembrandt: Every Painting, vol. 1 (New York, 1980), p. 90, no. 190. (as by Rembrandt, about 1638)
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1981), pp. 86-87, ill. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Bob Haak. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, His Time (New York, 1982) pp. 148-49, fig. 231. (as by Rembrandt, dated 1639 (?); questions the authenticity of the inscription)
Erik Larsen. Rembrandt: Peintre de Paysages: Une vision nouvelle (Paris, 1983), no. 5, pl. 6. (as by Rembandt, about 1636; the inscription as questionable)
Werner Sumowski. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler, vol. 2 (Landau, 1983), no. 719. (as by Govaert Flinck)
Cynthia P. Schneider. Rembrandt's Landscape Paintings. PhD Diss. (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1984), pp. 279-85, 414-17, no. R1, fig. 11. (catalogued under rejected attributions; attributed to Govaert Flinck; the 'k' in the signature made into an 'R')
Gary Schwartz. Rembrandt: zijn leven, zijn schilderijen: Een nieuwe biografie met alle beschikbare schilderijen in kleur afgebeeld (Maarssen, Netherlands, 1984), p. 251, no. 284. (as by Rembrandt, about 1638)
Cynthia P. Schneider. "A New Look at The Landscape with an Obelisk." Fenway Court (1984), pp. 6-21, figs. 1, 1a-d. (as by Govaert Flinck, 1638; the 'k' in the signature made into an 'R')
Kristin A. Mortimer. "Report of the Curator." Fenway Court (1985), p. 73. (as by Govaert Flinck)
Christian Trümpel et al. (eds.). Rembrandt (Amsterdam, 1986), p. 226, no. A121. (as by Govaert Flinck)
Peter C. Sutton et al. (eds.). Masters of 17th-Century Dutch Lanscape Painting. Exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 1987), pp. 98, 313-15, cat. 29, pl. 84. (as signed falsely and dated; as by Govaert Flinck, 1638)
Rollin van N. Hadley (ed.). The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner 1887-1924 (Boston, 1987), pp. 200-01, 203-07.
Margarita Russel. Review of Sutton et al. "Dutch Landscape Painting: A Plurality of Interpretations." Apollo (Jun., 1988), p. 153. (as Govaert Flinck)
J. Bruyn et al. (eds.). A Corpus of Rembrandts Paintings, vol. 3 (Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1989), pp. 41-42, fig. 38; pp. 737-42, figs. 1-6, no. C 117. (as by Govaert Flinck, probably 1638; the 'f' in the signature as painted over with an 'R')
Cynthia P. Schneider. Rembrandt's Landscapes (New Haven, 1990), pp. 4, 129-30, 132-37, 144, 161, 181, 196-99, 202, fig. 103, pl. 10. (as by Govaert Flinck, 1638)
Norbert Schneider. Geschichte der Landschaftsmalerei, vom Spatmittelalter bis zur Romantik (Darmstadt, Germany, 1999), p. 157, fig. 114. (as by Rembrandt, 1638)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), pp. 146-47, ill. (as by Govaert Flinck)
Cynthia Saltzman. Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), pp. 85, 87.
Boudewijn Bakker. Landscape and Religion from Van Eyck to Rembrandt (London, 2011), p. 264, fig. 60. (as by Govaert Flinck, 1638)

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Long thought to be by Rembrandt, this landscape was recognized in the 1980s as the work of his pupil, Govaert Flinck. The stormy scene with a dramatically lit obelisk in the middle ground is close to Rembrandt’s own landscapes of the 1630s. Just outside Amsterdam were two obelisks that marked territorial boundaries. However, this scene with distant mountains and towering trees looks nothing like Holland; rather the travelers huddled in the foreground shadows suggest that it is some faraway place.

By 1900, Isabella Stewart Gardner’s interest in Dutch painting had waned. She wrote, “I really don’t adore Rembrandt. I only like him.” She already owned a Vermeer and three Rembrandts, and had attempted to buy the celebrated Mill, then attributed to Rembrandt – “the most famous landscape in the world.” Peter Widener bought it in 1911 and it is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Source: Alan Chong, "Landscape with an Obelisk," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 147.


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