Gérard HOET (Zalt-Bommel, 1648 – The Hague, 1733)

Festival of Pomona

45 x 52 cm. (16 ½ x 20 ½in.)
Circa 1720. OIl on canvas Signed on lowest step: G HOET

Provenance

- Jean Dubois Collection, jeweller goldsmith, Paris.
- His sale, Paris, Hôtel de Bullion, Decembre 20th, 1785, lot 56 with its pendant La Fête de Flore (Festival of Flora).
- Acquired by Holff with its pendant for 2,200 pounds.
- Armand de Lau Collection, Marquis d’Allemans (1739-1820), Paris.
- Gilbert Paignon-Dijonval Collection (1708-1792), Secretary to the King, Paris.
- By inheritance, his grandson, Charles-Gilbert Morel de Vindé (1759-1842), Paris.
- Paignon Dijonval and Morel Vindé Sale, Paris, Hôtel de Morel Vindé, December 17th, 1821, Maître Bonnefonds de La Vialle, expert appraiser, lot 37 (with its pendant, sold 305 fr).
- Hauptmann Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, March 22nd, 1897, Maître Chevallie, expert appraiser, lot 32.
- France, Private Collection.
- Xavier Goyet Gallery, Marseille, in 1985.

  • Acquired at the gallery by the last owner, France.

An imposing arcaded loggia abundantly covered in low reliefs of mythological subjects difficult to interpret opens onto an antique forum and blue sky. On the left, in the shadows, a niche shelters a large gilt statue of Pomona, an agrarian divinity, protector of gardens, who is recognizable on account to her fruit-filled cornucopia. The sanctuary’s entrance forms a stage set with a central stairway and sculpted balustrade which echoes the acanthus friezes but is more akin to the style of Louis XIV than to Antiquity. In an obviously theatrical décor, accentuated by broad golden draperies which descend from the ceiling like stage curtains or backdrops, very lively women and children produce a joyful cacophony. Some carry just an apple or full fruit baskets, others prepare crowns and garlands of flowers to decorate the statue of the goddess. She herself appears incognito in the center of the scene seated on the lower steps. With bare breasts and a worried expression, she seems to listen to an old woman standing behind her: every viewer who knows Ovid’s Metamorphoses would immediately recognize Vertumnus in disguise.

This gracious composition was realized by Gerard Hoet as a pendant to The Festival of Flora, another goddess who protected flowers and was associated with Pomona . The same architecture and busy figures venerating a gilt statue can be seen here. Conserved together by Jean Dubois, and then by the Marquis of Allemans, they had entered Gabriel Painon-Dijonval’s famous collection together already before the Revolution. Inherited and completed by his grandson Charles Gilbert Morel de Vindé, the collection was dispersed in 1821. Sold together in the same lot, Hoet’s pendants were separated shortly after that: The Festival of Flora figured alone in an anonymous sale of 1892. The picture reappeared on the market, first in Bayeux in 1989, and then in Paris in 2014.

The son and student of the painter-glassmaker Moses Hoet, Gerard Hoet continued his training under Warner van Rijsen, an imitator of Cornelis van Poelenburgh whose influence comes through strongly in Hoet’s oeuvre. In fact, the young artist ended up settling in the great landscapist’s native town in 1674, after sojourns in The Hague, Amsterdam, and Paris. In 1696, he founded an academy of drawing in Utrecht. Twenty years later, he returned to The Hague where he remained until his death.

Hoet mainly painted scenes drawn from ancient history, the Bible, or mythology in a style derived both from Poelenburgh and Lairesse. He particularly favored small formats and compositions enlivened by elongated figures which emerged from Arcadian or Italianate landscapes. As in our picture, Hoet’s protagonists are usually placed in the foreground in front of an imaginary architectural framework nourished with very rich classical reminiscences which escapes into a landscape or other architecture. His compositions are choreographed like ballet, with each figure conforming to its own narrative, which is deliberately independent from the main subject. Thus, in our Festival of Pomona, veneration of the goddess is just a pretext for a multitude of small skits: a mother holding back her child who has climbed on the banister; a woman holding out a crown of flowers to another; a young imperious woman clothed in white and carmine who descends the stairs. Here, this show is handled in harmony of brown and golden shades, heightened by metallic bleus, reds, and whites which bring out the refined gracious movements of the lightly clothed carefree women.

It is difficult to establish a chronology in Hoet’s oeuvre, because he seems to have rarely dated his works. In view of the stylistic affinity with his pictures datable to the artist’s period in the Hague, especially Ulysses Recognizing Achilles among Lycomedes’ Daughters, conserved in the Bayreuth Staatsgalerie (inv. 1104, oil on canvas, 57.3 x 74.5 cm. (22 916 x 29 516 in.), it would seem wise to situate our painting in about 1720.
A.Z.

Bibliography of the Work
Charles Blanc, Le trésor de la curiosité tiré des catalogues de ventes, Paris, 1858, p. 244.
Adolphe Siret, Dictionnaire historique des peintres de toutes les écoles, Paris-Brussels, 1866, p. 433.

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