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5.3.1 Abraham Mignon

A little more is known about the flower piece by Abraham Mignon. Von Holst mentioned the sum that it fetched, fl. 760, and the name of the buyer, G. Schwartz, adding that it was the most expensive piece to be sold at auction in Danzig of that time. With G. Schwartz, Gottfried Schwartz (1716-1777), who is mentioned by Von Holst, was undoubtedly intended. His collection was auctioned after his death on 12 August 1777 at 42 Langgasse (Długa). However, Von Holst observed that this auction did not include the paintings in Schwartz’s personal collection.1 Chodyński reports that Schwartz, who was burgomaster of Danzig in the year of his death, owned the largest art gallery in Danzig of the 18th century. This collection comprised hundreds of works of mixed quality and continued to grow through acquisitions at auctions until the death of Schwartz in his residence at 42 Langgasse (Długa).2

A good overview of the collection is offered by a description by the peripatetic Swiss astronomer Johann III Bernoulli (1744-1807), who visited it after Schwartz’s death on 12 July 1778. Bernoulli’s description clearly shows the enormous scope of the collection, more than 460 pieces! Bernoulli was shown around by Daniel Gralath the Younger, one of the executors of Schwartz’ testament and saw the painting by Abraham Mignon, which he described as: ‘A flower piece (outstanding) by Abraham Mignon(Ein Blumenstück [vortrefflich] von Abrah.[am] Mignon).3 As Bernoulli informs his readers, the heirs had originally intended to auction off the entire collection in The Netherlands, but D. Schwartz, a brother of Gottfried and a resident of Berlin, decided to keep the paintings, so that they were still in his residence on the Langgasse at the time of Bernoulli’s visit.4 Nothing else is known about the provenance of Mignon’s flower piece. In the 1973 monograph by Magdalena Krämer-Noble, the painting is classed with the lost works.5


Von Holst 1934, p. 64 (the Mignon painting) and p. 69 (date and place of auction).


Chodyński 2002, p. 183.


Bernoulli 1779-1780, vol. 1, 1779, pp. 287-294 (description of the collection), esp. p. 289 (the Mignon painting).


Bernoulli 1779-1780, vol. 1, pp. 287-288.


Krämer-Noble 1973, p. 75, cat. no. C15. The painting is not included in Krämer-Noble’s revised catalogue raisonné of 2007.

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