Altorf, Johan Coenraad
(Den Haag, 1876 - Den Haag, 1955)
BeschrijvingDESCRIPTION signed with the monogram and dated on `40 PROVENANCE H.P. Bremmer, The Hague, no. 411 Sale Christie`s Amsterdam, 10 June 1999, lot 14 Private Collection, The Netherlands EXHIBITED The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Verzameling H.P. Bremmer, March-April 1950 CATALOGUE NOTE Dutch sculptor Johan Coenraad Altorf (1876 1955) lived and worked in The Hague, where he was trained as a cabinet maker before switching to sculpture, taking lessons from various local artists. After studying at The Hague Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Altorf was approached by artisan and architect Johan Thorn Prikker to execute sculptural ornaments for several of his designs, including the shop-front of the Arts and Crafts gallery in The Hague (1898). After being stimulated by Thorn Prikker to set up on his own, Altorf from 1901 regularly and successfully exhibited his works; a.o. at the Prima Esposizione Internazionale dArte Decorativa Moderna in Turin in 1902, where he won a silver medal, and at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. Altorf is renowned for his animal sculptures, studying his models closely on his daily visits to the The Hague Zoo. In comparison to the Eastern tranquillity of the animal sculptures of his role model Joseph Mendes da Costa, the works of Altorf always express a unique tension and alertness which Altorf sensed within the nature of the animal itself. In lot 57, the owl displays the role of observant spectator, the tight posture reflecting its sharp perceptivity, which is emphasized by the angular stylization so typical of the work of Altorf. Around 1900, Altorf met art pedagogue and critic H. P. Bremmer (1871 1956), who would become the most important advocate of his work, promoting it amongst his wealthy relations. The influence of Bremmer on his artists, amongst whom where such important figures as John Rädecker, Joseph Mendes da Costa, Bart van der Leck and Charley Toorop, was substantial and not always limited to financial support. The relationship between Altorf and his mecenas remained intact during Alorfs entire career, lasting from circa 1900 until well into the 1940s. All these years, Bremmer paid Altorf a regular fee and kept a close eye on the artistic development of his protégé. The sculpture here offered for sale has probably been in Bremmers private collection from the 1940s onwards. It is possible that Altorf made this work especially for Bremmer, either on commission or as a gift, since Bremmer -in his role as art dealer- mostly stimulated sculptors to make numbered editions of small bronzes rather than time-consuming and expensive one-offs. Made by Altorf as late as 1940 but echoing his earlier works, this carefully executed sculpture can be regarded as an important piece; within the oeuvre of the artist as well as within the collection of his mecenas Bremmer.