Willem Witsen

Oude Waal, Amsterdam

Willem Witsen

Oude Waal, Amsterdam

This charming early 20th-century etching by Dutch artist Willem Witsen (1860-1923) depicts a canalside scene on the Oude Waal in Amsterdam. He studied this view from a moored ‘studio boat’.

Here we see several figures caught in perpetuity while undertaking everyday activities. A boy carries a hoop, two women watch the world go by from concrete steps, an older gentleman waits in a doorway. At number 78, a hand-written sign indicates that this is a laundrette run by the Veltkamp sisters. While at number 82, we see ‘Slijterij Veenhoven’, a liquor store.

Witsen painted, and drew, several versions of Oude Waal including an oil painting, which appeared at Christie’s in 2016. There’s also an interesting study at the Rijksmuseum.

Today, the architectural facade looks broadly the same but the building numbers are different - refer to 32-34 Oude Waal on Google Maps. Note too that the view has been reversed when the etching was pressed. In reality, the buildings are switched around.

Signed in pencil lower right and framed. Limited edition of 100 etchings.

Learn more about Willem Witsen in our directory.

Medium: Etching on paper
Overall size: 27” x 21” / 68cm x 54cm
Year of creation: 1912
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction highlight: £48,488 achieved for a drawing in 2017 and £1,842 for etchings.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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