Case Study

"Dutch Orphans Reunited"

Govaert Flinck "Group of Figures"

In 1908, I received a catalogue from the Blakeslee Galleries in New York. (2) The enterprise was established by Theron J. Blakeslee in 1855 and was well noted for its art auctions run by Thomas Kirby through the American Art Association. (3) The association was holding a Blakeslee auction of notable masters of the early English, Dutch, Flemish and French schools on April 9 and 10, 1908. Without a moment to lose Fannie and I packed our bags and were off to New York.

1908 Blakeslee Galleries Sale Catalogue

The sale included stunning masterpieces and we were able to purchase works by Thomas Lawrence, Gainsborough Dupont [nephew of Thomas Gainsborough], and George Barrett as well as a most unusual painting, Group of Figures attributed to the seventeenth-century Dutch master, and Rembrandt student, Govaert Flinck. (4)
The painting was obviously cut down, for, in the lower right corner, part of a hand and the entire arm of a young boy were missing. The composition originally must also have extended at the bottom, for the same figure was cut off at the waist and a dog in the lower left corner was only visible from the neck up. At the top, a figure in the left corner had half a head. I know it's difficult to see these details but I still took a liking to the painting in spite of its unfortunate history. I always considered it my "Dutch orphan," cut off from the rest of the family.

Govaert Flinck "Group of Figures"
I included the painting in a catalogue of my personal collection and again in a 1925 special gift catalogue comprising the 334 paintings I donated to the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. (5)

Ficke Personal Catalogue

Ficke 1925 Gift Catalogue
In 1963, the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery changed its name to the Davenport Museum of Art and, in 2003, the institution was renamed the Figge Art Museum. (6) I was thrilled when the museum sent my painting to Barry Bauman for conservation work in 2009. I have asked Barry to outline the painting's examination and treatment on the following pages.
(2) American Art Association. Notable paintings by masters of the early English, Dutch, Flemish, and French schools. Place of sale: New York. Date of sale: April 9-10, 1908.
(3) Information on the gallery's founding taken from March 8, 1914, New York Times obituary article, (accessed October 4, 2010).
(4) American Art Association. Catalogue inventory numbers were No. 18, No. 101, No. 128, and No. 124, respectively.
(5) Ficki, C. A. Catalogue of the Paintings Forming the Private Collection of C. A. Ficke of Davenport Iowa. Undated. The Flinck entry is No. 91. The catalogue's last notation date is 1916 and the catalogue was sent to the gallery in 1921, placing the publication date between these years. Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. Catalogue of 334 Paintings, the Gift of C. A. Ficke. 1925. The Flinck entry is No. 103.
(6) Museum history taken from (accessed October 6, 2010).


Table of Contents, Biography, Provenance, Examination


Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
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