Actaeon Watching Diana and Her Nymphs Bathing
Joachim Anthoniesz. Wtewael (Dutch, 1566–1638)
56.5 x 75.9 cm (22 1/4 x 29 7/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on panel
Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)
Diana was the goddess of the hunt and guardian of chastity. For spying on her as she and her nymphs bathed, Actaeon was turned into a stag and killed by his own hounds. Wtewael’s contemporaries interpreted the story allegorically as an admonition against the weakness of the flesh. Although a later work by the artist, this painting still retains the refined artificiality of pose and palette favored by the Mannerists.
Lower right, on bridge: Jo Wte Wael fecit An 1612 [J and o in monogram)
By 1637, Jan Arentsz. van Naerden, Amsterdam [see note 1]. Until 1767, Mrs. Alewijn (née Geelvink); June 10, 1767, Alewijn Geelvink sale, Amsterdam, lot 18, to Pierre Fouquet, Amsterdam. Until 1806, Charles Joseph François Spruyt, Amsterdam; July 28, 1806, Spruyt sale, Fernand, Ghent, Belgium, lot 162, to Penneman. By 1929, Curt Glaser (b. 1879 - d. 1943), Berlin [see note 2]; May 9, 1933, Glaser sale, Internationales Kunst- und Auktionshaus, Berlin, lot 243, sold for M 550. J. H. Borghouts Gallery, Venlo and Utrecht, The Netherlands [see note 3]. Malmedé Gallery, Cologne; by 1956, sold by Malmedé to Jon Nicholas Streep, New York [see note 4]; 1957, sold by Streep to the MFA for $3,500. (Accession Date: February 14, 1957)
 The painting was included in the appraisal of the collection of Jan Arentsz. van Naerden by Lucas Luce and Hendrick Ulenborch, Amsterdam, December 11, 1637, no. 3.  The painting was first published by C.M.A.A. Lindeman, Joachim Anthonisz Wtewael (Utrecht, 1929), p. 249, no. X, as in Curt Glaser's collection.  According to information on file at the RKD, the Hague (ONS/Groep 518/Wtewael/doos 5/map 3).  According to a letter from the dealer Streep to the MFA (February 20, 1957) in the MFA curatorial file.
Scholar and art collector Curt Glaser was director of the Staatliche Kunstbibliothek in Berlin until 1933, when he was discharged according to the Nazi Laws for the Reestablishment of Civil Service (passed April 7, 1933), which forbade Jews from holding civil service, university and state positions. He sold much of his art collection in two sales in Berlin in May, 1933. He and his wife left Germany that summer, living for several years in Switzerland before immigrating to New York in 1941. Curt Glaser died in 1943 in Lake Placid, New York.
The heirs of Curt Glaser have sought restitution of the works of art auctioned in May, 1933, alleging that the sales were due to Nazi persecution and therefore forced. In 2009, the United Kingdom's Spoliation Advisory Panel issued a report regarding eight drawings that were auctioned in May, 1933. The Advisory Panel found that Glaser's decision to sell the bulk of his collection was due to a number of factors and that the prices attained at auction were fair. The panel concluded that the claim was not sufficiently strong to recommend restitution of the drawings. A PDF of the panel's report can be downloaded at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/cultural_property/3296.aspx
Abbott Lawrence Fund