ABRAHAM VAN STRIJ
(1753 Dordrecht 1826)
Allegory of the Arts
Oil on canvas
48.5 x 189 cm
(Framed : 54,5 x 193,5 cm)
Signed lower right: A.Van Strÿ
Like his brother Jacob, Abraham began his career in his father’s studio, Leendert van Strij, a painter and decorator in Dordrecht. Wishing to specialize in interior decorations, Abraham joined the studio of Joris Ponse (1723-1783), himself a student of Aart Schouman, who was a specialist in large decorative projects and still life. Thanks to the elegance of his decors, Abraham van Strij quickly became successful and was given numerous commissions by wealthy members of the local bourgeoisie. He was particularly known for his overdoors, lintels and the large compositions on canvas which served as wallpaper. Van Strij spent a brief period at the Royal Academy of Antwerp in 1772-1773, before returning to his native city.
The following year, along with three other artists, he founded a drawing association in Dordrecht, Pictura, for which he served as director until 1824.
Van Strij then turned more toward painting portraits and interior scenes in smaller formats, and influenced by Metsu and Pieter de Hooch. He also executed landscapes peopled by figures, like those of Cuyp, which met with a certain success. He married in 1780, and beginning in 1801, took a studio which he shared with his brother.
Our impressive grisaille is entirely typical of the work by van Strij which was so highly prized in Dordrecht in the mid-18th century. His work—canvases of rather large dimensions, all in tones of grey, or, as in the present work, set against a dark background—date for the most part from the 1780s. A very beautiful Allegory of Navigation is today in a private collection (157.5 x 95 cm, signed).
Although less ambitious, we would also note an Allegory of Autumn, which was to be part of a cycle of the four seasons for overdoors (signed and dated 1783, private collection).
A very beautiful composition for a décor over a fireplace represents Putti and Nymphs Making Offerings to Minerva (signed, 138.2 x 76.3 cm; private collection). Of a quality similar to our canvas, and in the same color range, it is possible that the two works were part of the same decor.
On our canvas, the putti are painted in the manner of a bas-relief, with different attributes of the arts: a canvas in pride of place at the center of the composition; a palette held by a putto and, on the right, a bust used as a model for a putto’s drawing.