Collection Online

Travellers by a well
(c. 1635-1641)

oil on wood panel
23.7 × 34.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Dr Orde Poynton CMG, Fellow, 1980
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
Not on display

Collection of Protheroe (?), until 1810; included in the sale of property of the 6th Earl of Coventry and others, Christie’s, London, 16-17 February 1810 (sold 17 February), no. 94 as Jan Both (style of); bought by Sale (?); collection of Verdi Killicoat Burmeister (1894–1956)[1], Unley, Adelaide, South Australia, by 1956; by whom bequeathed to the Art Gallery of South Australia, 1956[2]; subsequently sold, Theodore Bruce (auction house), Adelaide, 14 June 1957, lot no. undetermined[3]; bought from this sale by Dr John Orde Poynton (1906–2001); his collection, Melbourne, 1957–80; by whom donated, through The Art Foundation of Victoria, to the NGV, 1980.

[1] Burmeister is buried at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide. He was the son of Charles Frederick Burmeister (1857–1941), a tenor, and Marion Maude Burmeister (1868–1932, nee Killicoat). His grandfather was Heinrich Wilhelm Burmeister (1818–1907), a German pioneer who arrived in the 1840s, not long after the Colony of South Australia was founded (1836). From the obituary, H.W. Burmeister made his fortune on the Victorian goldfields before returning to Adelaide to pursue a trade as a mason. He made regular trips to Europe in the late nineteenth century. After his death, his will was contested by his estranged children and his widow. The ensuing probate dispute (June – July 1908) was covered extensively by local newspapers.

[2] Objects from the bequest were deemed unsuitable for the Art Gallery of South Australia (then known as National Gallery of South Australia) and, with the agreement of the family (possibly sister Daisy Maud Salotti, nee Burmeister, d. 1970), were sold at auction. Some pictures were retained including a Flemish wood panel painting; a portrait of Louis XIV, and Quayside, by Frances Hodgkins. See Bulletin of the National Gallery of South Australia, vol. 18, no. 4, 1957.

[3] Proceeds from the sale formed AGSA’s VK Burmeister Bequest Fund and used for acquisitions. The sale catalogue contains very few details and descriptions of lots. The Both painting could be Lot 1, Dutch Oil; Lot 7, Small oil on Wood, or; Lot 76, Dutch School.

After artistic training in their native Utrecht, Andries Both and his brother Jan travelled to Italy in the early 1630s. They established themselves in Rome painting bambocciate, a new genre being developed there by Dutch, French, Flemish and German artists. Bambocciate were small cabinet pictures of ‘low’ life in the Roman Campagna, painted with Northern realism and infused with recognisably Italian light. The amusing and rustic character of these simple vignettes was relished by Roman aristocratic and bourgeois collectors. This particular scene, showing travellers paused for refreshment, might well have been observed during the Both brothers’ journeys.