We are immensely grateful to Norbert Middelkoop for his superb detective work in identifying the exact location of this view. The exact spot is where the Verwersgracht (now the Zwanenburgwal) narrows down to the canal after the Sint-Anthoniesluis locks. The lock was built it 1602 to facilitate shipping between the Amstel and the harbour in the Ij and beyond. This stretch of water still exists today albeit with some very different surrounding buildings. While the exact identification of the tall building in the centre of the painting is still unknown, it is likely that the smaller structure with protruding wooden wings may be the lock keeper's office. It is possible that this tall building is the first part in the major restructuring and upscaling of buildings in this areas following urban expansion to the southeast and east from 1662. Norbert wonders whether van Kessel was drawn to paint this charming corner before the lock keeper's office was demolished to make way for more higher rise buildings.
The same locks had been drawn by a number of artists, notably Rembrandt (about 1647/'48, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, inv. KDZ 1107) and Anthonie Waterloo (c. 1650, Amsterdam Museum , inv. TA 10370) but usually looking south from the other side. A fascinating drawing unearthed by Norbert in the British Museum and currently attributed to Bol shows the same view as our painting but probably a few years later as there are further tall buildings in the same location.
Alice Davies has dated the painting to c. 1670. Working from a photograph, she said that it "appears to be one of Jan van Kessel's loveliest pictures".
Possibly sale, Amsterdam, 6 August 1810, lot 55;J Singer, London, 1949;Private collection, Amsterdam;With P de Boer, Amsterdam, 1971;With Fredeick Mont, New York;With Newhouse Galleries, Inc. New York, 1957;Purchased there by the family of the previous owner
H. Wagner, Jan van der Heyden 1737 -1712;Amsterdam/Haarlem, 1971, p. 25, as 'Canal' at de Boer';A.I. Davies, Jan van Kessel, Ghent, 1992, p. 119-120, pl. 11.
Dallas, Texas, Meadows Museum, Private Views: Flemish and Dutch Paintings from Dallas Collections,19 April-27 May 1990, no. 11, (catalogue by S.A. Sullivan).