Louis Le Nain
Landscape with Peasants
oil on canvas
46.5 x 57 cm (18 5/16 x 22 7/16 in)
Thomas Gainsborough [1727-1788], London; (his estate sale by private contract, Schomberg House, London, 30 March 1789 and days following, no. 10, as Travelling Musicians). George Hibbert [1757-1837], London; (joint sale with Sir Simon H. Clarke, Christie's, London, 14 May 1802, no. 33, bought in); George Hibbert [1757-1837], London; (his sale, Christie's, London, 13 June 1829, no. 36); Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin [d. 1847]; sold December 1829 to Joseph Neeld [d. 1856], Grittleton House, near Chippenham, Wiltshire; by inheritance to his brother, Sir John Neeld, 1st bt. [1805-1891], Grittleton House; by inheritance to his son, Sir Algernon William Neeld, 2nd bt. [1846-1900], Grittleton House; by inheritance to his brother, Sir Audley Dallas Neeld, 3rd bt. [1849-1941], Grittleton House; by inheritance to Joseph Neeld's descendant through an illegitimate daughter, Lionel William [Inigo-Jones] Neeld [d. 1956], Grittleton House; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 9 June 1944, no. 18); purchased by Koetser or Rocker.  (Wildenstein & Co., Paris, New York, and London); sold December 1944 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;  gift 1946 to NGA.  According to an undated letter from early 1986, an annotated copy of the 1944 Neeld sale catalogue at the Getty Provenance Index states that "Rocker" purchased lot 18 (Julia A. Armstrong to Suzannah Fabing, in NGA curatorial files). However, two other annotated copies of the sale catalogue (photocopies from both in NGA curatorial files, one from the Knoedler Library fiche of British sales) indicate that lot 18 was purchased by "Koetser," almost certainly the dealer David M. Koetser. This theory is supported by a passage in The Paintings of The Betty and David M. Koetser Foundation (introduction by Malcolm M. Waddingham, catalogue by Christian Klemm, Zurich and Doornspijk, 1988: 10), in which Koetser's purchase of "the rare Landscape with Peasants by Louis Le Nain" is described. It is possible that "Rocker" was a pseudonym used by Koetser. It is not clear whether Koetser was buying for himself, or for or with Wildenstein. Koetser's letter of 20 January 1969 to Colin Eisler contains a list of some of the non-Italian paintings he sold to the Kress Foundation followed by the sentence "And indirectly, Louis Le Nain's 'Landscape'..." (copy in NGA curatorial files).  The "memorandum of agreement" between Wildenstein and the Kress Foundation for the purchase of ten paintings, including Louis Le Nain's Peasants in a Landscape, is dated 28 December 1944 (copy in NGA curatorial files). Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian, Oxford, 1977: 266 n. 14, incorrectly gives the date of the Kress acquisition as 1946, misspells Hibbert's name as Hibbard, and indicates the painting sold for fifty guineas in 1789, when the Ellis Waterhouse letter to which he refers only says the painting was priced at fifty guineas.