Dutch painter (b. 1750, Amsterdam, d. 1793, Amsterdam)
The Lottery Office
Oil on canvas
The Lottery Office (detail)
Dutch painter. He worked in the tradition of the topographical town portrait, which originated in the northern Netherlands in the late 17th century, and he was greatly inspired by the work of Jan van der Heyden. Although he lived in Amsterdam for the greater part of his life, Ouwater travelled all over the country, making sketches that he used as a basis for his oil paintings. His itinerary can be traced from his dated works. In 1782 he stayed in Haarlem, where his paintings included the Grote Markt (Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum); that same year he painted the Buitenhof in The Hague (The Hague, Gemeentemuseum), and in 1784 he apparently worked in Hoorn, where he produced sketches for two topographical pictures, now in the Westfries Museum there. He also made sketches of street scenes for later paintings, in Utrecht, Edam and Delft.
Among the scenes he painted in his native Amsterdam are the View of the Mint Tower (1778; private collection) and the Westerkerk (1788; Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada). His townscapes are characterized by his fresh colours and the meticulous and lucid rendering of his subject, drenched in bright daylight and seen from the viewpoint of the small figures that animate his compositions.
Isaak Ouwater was the best follower of Jan van der Heyden. He concentrated on cityscapes. Although Ouwater’s paintings can be a little dry and airless, and, when compared to to van der Heyden’s, appear timid, he always displays a fine sense of design as is evident in his Lottery Office.
Here his debt to van der Heyden’s execution also is unmistakable; in it his minute handling is best enjoyed with a magnifying glass. But his close, frontal view of the street scene is original. The painting is an exact rendering of the façades of three houses in the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam which have an antiquarian interest that enhances the painting’s historical value. The lottery office that the crowd is trying to enter was first inhabited by Clement de Jonghe, who posed for Rembrandt and was a publisher of Rembrandt’s etchings. The house on the right was once occupied by Jacob van Ruisdael, the one on the left by Aert van der Neer.