Samson and Delilah

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Samson and Delilah

Holland, 1668
Oil on canvas
Canvas: 26 1/2 × 32 1/2 in. (67.31 × 82.55 cm) Frame: 41 1/2 × 46 3/4 × 4 in. (105.41 × 118.75 × 10.16 cm)
Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation (M.87.64)
Not currently on public view


Provenance(1) Possibly Jacob van Hoek (sale, Amsterdam, 12 Apr.


Provenance(1) Possibly Jacob van Hoek (sale, Amsterdam, 12 Apr. 1719, lot 6, “Een Samson, vol gewoel, van dezelve, een weerga,” sold for fl. 250 to);(2) possibly anonymous (sale 1787, sold for fl. 600).(3) Daniel de Jongh Adrszn., Rotterdam (sale, Rotterdam, Robert Muys, 26 Mar. 1810, lot 37, sold for fl. 370 to);(4) [Johannes van Eyk, The Hague (sale, The Hague, Eyk, 5 July 1814, lot 8551, sold for fl. 290 to)];(5) [Esser]. Charles Scarisbrick (1800–1860), Scarisbrick Hall and Wrightington Hall, Lancashire (estate sale, London, Christie’s, 11 and 13 May 1861, lot 215, “Samson lying asleep in the lap of Delilah on a Turkey carpet, a Philistine cutting off a lock of his hair; figures are watching them, between columns and draperies, on either side. A most important and highly finished work.”). N. Osthuyzen, The Hague. [Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris, sold before 1894 to];(6) Oscar Huldschinsky (1846–1931), Berlin (sale, Berlin, Cassirer, 10 May 1928, lot 36, pl. xxxi, sold for £2,300 [fl. 3,200] to); [Julius Böhler for]; Leo van den Bergh, Wassenaar (sale, Amsterdam, Paul Graupe and S. J. Mak van Waay, 5–6 Nov. 1935, lot 29, pl. 17, sold for fl. 18,000). [N. V. Kunsthandel K. W. Bachstitz, by 1938, sent 8 July 1943(7) by A. W. Hofer to]; Hermann Göring;(8) secured by the United States Army and transported to the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP) in 1945, returned to; Stichtung Nederlands Kunstbezit (NK) in 1946, restituted to; [Bachstitz, New York, in 1951]. Anonymous(9) (sale, Amsterdam, Paul Brandt, 24–25 May 1960, lot 73, sold for fl. 65,000). [Nystad, Lochem, sold before 1962 to]; [Hans J. de Koster (1914–1992),(10) Wassenaar, until consigned 1987 to]; [Otto Naumann Ltd., New York, sold 1987 to]; LACMA.


(1) LACMA’s painting has traditionally (going back to at least Smith 1829–42) been identified as the painting sold in Amsterdam 16 March 1724, lot 7, from the collection of George Bruyn, for fl. 380. The same painting appears in an undated inventory of the possessions of George Bruyn and Lavinia van Oosterwijck, Amsterdam, made between 25 January 1724 and the date of the sale. The entries for the painting both describe it as “Daar Simson van de Philistijnen gebonden is [Samson bound by the Philistines], door Jan Steen, heel goet en raar van gedagten.” The painting owned by Bruyn and his wife better fits the painting Samson Bound, of between 1667 and 1670 (fig. 12), which shows Samson with his arms bound behind him. The identification of LACMA’s painting with that formerly in the collection of Wynand Coole, Rotterdam (sale, Rotterdam, 6 August 1782, lot 65), is also probably incorrect. The catalogue for the sale of Coole’s collections describes the painting as “Samson, in de schoor van Delila, zeer natuurlyk en kragtig geschildert, hoog 34½ duim, breed 28 duim, Dk.” (Samson in the lap of Delila, very naturally and cleverly painted, height 34½ [in.], width 28 [in.], canvas).

(2) “A Samson, full of action, by the same [Jan Steen], an equal.” Hoet (1752–70) 1976, vol. 1, p. 221, no. 5. The previous entry, no. 4, “Een Boere Geseldschap, door Jan Steen, in zyn beste tyd geschildert [A peasant celebration by Jan Steen, painted in his best time],” sold for fls. 355.

(3) Mentioned by Van Westrheene 1856, p. 145, no. 205.

(4) Getty Provenance Index Sale Contents Database, cat. no. N-156: “No 37. Hoog 25, breed 29 1.2 duimen. Dk. Deze ongemeen rijke en uitvoerige Schilderij, verbeeld op eene burlesque wijze, daar Simson, in de Schoot van Delila van zijn Haarlok beroofd word. Men ziet er een aantal figuren, zoo van krijgsknegten, kinderen, draperijen, en cierlijk bijwerk. Krachtig en schoon geschilderd” (This unusually rich composition offers us, in a comical manner, the moment when Samson, lying in Delilah’s lap, loses the braid of his hair: several people and warriors seize the moment to grab it. All manner of people watch throughout, and together they form a clever, harmonious, and very finished ensemble).

(5) Getty Provenance Index, Sale Contents Database, cat. no. N-250.

(6) Sedelmeyer 1898, p. 216, notes, “From the collection of N. Osthuyzen, The Hague,” a suggestion that he acquired the painting directly from Osthuyzen. In the preface to Sedelmeyer 1898, the author states that this catalogue includes “a selection from those pictures by Old Masters, which I had owned and sold prior to 1894.”

(7) According to Yeide 2009, p. 420, no. A1549, n. 2, the painting was on the Limberger list dated 8 July 1943 in NARA/RG260/Box 437/Folder VI. The painting later appears as no. 448 on the Veldenstein Transport list of Göring’s paintings removed from the bunkers at Kurfürst and Carinhall to the Castle Veldenstein in early 1945. Later in 1945 the painting was secured by the 101st Airborne Division at Unterstein, Berchtesgaden Army (Berchtesgaden Inventory, p. 23) in preparation for transfer to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, Third United States and the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP Property Card no. 6750). The painting is also mentioned on p. 74 of the Consolidated Investigation Report (CIR 2) by the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) concerning Göring’s collection. It also appears as B323/318, in the Bundesarchiv Koblez (BAK), which contains research conducted by the Treuhandverwaltung von Kulturgut (TVK) on the Göring collection. See Yeide 2009, pp. 22–24, for an explanation of the documents.

(8) SNK 993: “In 1943 op ziecht [?] naar Duitseland gezonden in handen van den Heer A. W. Hofer, en bested voor Göring, maar niet aangekocht.” According to the OSS Interrogation Report, p. 74, Jan Steen’s painting Samson and Delilah was taken from Bachstitz by Göring as surety for the dealer’s good behavior after Göring gave him a visa to Switzerland at Hofer’s request. Because the painting is not listed in any of the Göring inventories, it must never have actually been personally acquired by Göring but kept separately, explaining the confusion.

(9) It is possible that the painting still belonged to Bachstitz Gallery, New York, which is the last owner cited by the catalogue. The title page of the sale advertises it as “Collection M.-H. L. Straat, Leeuwarden (après exposition dans les musées d’Arnhem, de Schiedam et de Leeuwarden); de divers provenances hollandaises et étrange[è?]res, e.a. du vicomte F. H. M. van der Maesen de Sombreff.” The owners of the different lots are not identified.

(10) H. J. Koster, Wassenaar, listed as the owner in Nystad 1962.



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