Pieter Claesz., 1596/97-1661
Still Life, 1627
Oil on oak panel, 36.2 x 57.5 cm (14-1/4 x 22-5/8 in.)
Pieter Claesz.'s painting combines two types of still life: "breakfast pieces," or representations of a light meal, and "smokers' requisites," or paraphernalia used by smokers. The simple domestic objects are all shown in perspective and in a limited range of colors. Still life was not an independent branch of painting before the seventeenth century, though paintings of religious subjects included still-life objects. Claesz., who painted still lifes almost exclusively, spent his career devising different arrangements of straight elements and curved objects, as in this work. He became the leading still-life painter in Haarlem, the most important Dutch city at the time.
Sale at Sotheby’s, New York, lot 35, for $29,000. February 12, 1970  To “Mahla Vaduz” (?) 
Consigned by Mahla Vaduz to Nystad Oude Kunst, The Hague, for fl.104,400 ($29,000), February 19, 1970 
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1970 
 Beatrice Stern, of Sotheby’s, New York, confirms the date of sale and price in an email dated February 7, 2005 [copy in object file]. The date had previously been listed incorrectly. She did not identify the seller.
 “Mahla Vaduz” is identified in the business records of Nystad Oude Kunst, which are now at the Getty Research Institute, where they were consulted in preparation for this entry. Frederick Mont represented the mysterious investor “Mahla Vaduz”––which turns out to have been a consortium of art investors led by Mont.
 The Nystad Oude Kunst records at the Getty Research Institute include a number of documents detailing transactions regarding the Claesz. still life. Evidently the financial arrangements were sufficiently complex as to engender some confusion among the participants, who nonetheless remained on good terms.
 For fl.179,215 from Nystad, June 9, 1970. Sale record, Nystad archives, contained in Duveen archives, GRI reel 329
The Art Loss Register has pointed out that a Claesz. still life of very similar dimensions had been in the collection of the Staatlichen Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, and subsequently reported missing in the aftermath of World War II. The piece in question is illustrated in Richard Klapheck (Die Kunstsammlungen der Staatlichen Kunstakademie zu Düsseldorf, 1928, p. 42), and it is clearly not the Timken Still Life. Dr. Bettina Baumgärtel, Head of the Department of Painting at the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf, confirms this in an email dated February 21, 2005 [copy in object file]. This connection can now be put aside.
A claim regarding this painting, and a number of others in the Timken collection, was presented in 2004 by an attorney representing members of the Oppenheimer family. Although the family lost a number of works to Nazi looting, none of the Oppenheimer paintings, which were sold in early 1935 in a Nazi-sanctioned auction, correspond to pieces owned by the Timken.
There are no paintings by Pieter Claesz. matching the description of the Timken piece listed on the major looted artwork registers. If no further information on the pre-1970 ownership of the piece emerges, there is no reason to consider its provenance as currently in question.