Houbraken Translated


Volume 1, page 30-39

Page 30

for such use and growls at those who say that we no longer have such beautiful pigments as were employed for windows in olden days. Just as he questions that the glass was then painted with such beautiful colours, since, on the contrary, the colours are applied to the glass by brushing silver, iron, copper, coral, red lead etc. on them and firing them in glass ovens, after which the shadows were introduced by the brush on the already coloured window and again fired, etc. This Willem Tomberg was the son of Daniël Tomberg, the son’s son of the preacher Herboldus Tombergius; who first practiced this art for seven years with Alexander Westerhout of Utrecht, who lived in Gouda back then, and later continued to study with the mentioned father of Anthony van Dyck, by which he progressed so far in that art that he was thought to be the best, so that he was later put in charge of the maintenance of the church windows in Gouda, of which he also renewed several in large part when they were smashed by the terrible storm of the year 1674. But the colours were not able to match the previous ones in power and clarity. It is also said that the material was later never found for the black used for the robe of the abbess of Rijnsburg in the window of King Salomon. He died in the year 1678, 75 years old.

Also in flower in and after the time of Dirk and Wouter Crabeth were Willem Thibaut and Cornelis IJsbrantsz. Kussens. In addition to the Gouda Chronicle, Samuel Ampzing mentions them in his Description and Praise of the City of Haarlem and


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praises their artwork in verse in this way:

How masterfully brave Tybout could engrave windows,
And what did the hand of Kussens do in this art?

Willem Thibaut died on the 24th of June in the year of 1599, 73 years old, and Cornelis IJsbrantsz. Kussens on the 24th of May of the year 1618.

In his Description of the City of Delft, Dirk van Bleiswijk commemorates the mentioned Willem Thibaut for the year 1563 and says: that he painted an outstandingly artful window in the north transept of the New or Saint Ursula Church in Delft, in which were shown the portrait of Philip II, King of Spain, as well as that of his third wife, Elizabeth of Valois, eldest daughter of Henry II, King for France, both kneeling before a table with two books on it. They were portrayed in their splendid royal robes, each backed by a guardian angel and the dynastic arms overhead. In the upper half of the window were depicted the Oriental Kings paying homage to Jesus, who sat on the lap of Mary, with a great crowd of figures around her, well drawn and painted so that connoisseurs held it in great esteem. As with the artfully painted window in the chapel of the High Dike-Reeves of the Delft lands, who were all painted in suits of armour, life size with natural likenesses by the artful Laurens van Kool.

One still sees as example of the art of Willem Thibaut the windows of the great chamber of the front militia gallery within Leiden, with all the counts of Holland, painted full-length [1-2].


Willem Thibaut
Portrait of William I, 16th Count of Holland and Zeeland (?-1222), dated 1588
leadlight, stained 141 x 66,3 x 2 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. 356

Willem Thibaut
Portrait of William I, 18th Count of Holland and Zeeland (?-1256), 1588
leadlight, stained 141 x 66,3 x 2 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. 358

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He copied them (as Michael Vosmerus writes in his book which he calls Principes Hollandiae) after drawn copies that he had made after the old wall paintings in the monastery of the Carmelite monks, or the Brothers of our Lady, founded within Haarlem in 1249, sometime after the painted panels with the portraits of the counts were overpainted. But Kornelis van Alkemade (in his preface to the Hollandse jaar-boeken of Rijm-kronijk van Melis Stoke) disagrees with the mentioned Vosmerus on page 8 and claims that these should be taken for no more than genuine copies which the monks ordered painted on wooden panels (when the first and true depictions painted in watercolours on the wall had darkened by the crumbling of the walls and the instability of the water paints) and which the magistrates of Haarlem saved from the claws of the iconoclasts in the late 16th century. They are located in the front chamber of the city hall, where they may still be seen. That is why the mentioned Alkemade selected them to decorate the last edition of the Rijm-kronijk van Melis Stoke.

I leave this counter argument in its full worth, but regarding the depictions in print I must say that if these were carefully based on the old depiction of the monastery walls, I cannot imagine that I see true portraits of the Dutch counts, given that several portraits are barely passable nor observe any proportion of parts to the whole, which has one think upon reflection that the draughtsman paid no more attention to following


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the particulars of the features.

These so splendid old show pieces (as Alkemade continues), painted and preserved with great care, are so highly esteemed by lovers of antiquities that they cannot leave that city without having encountered these esteemed antiquities and viewed them with great pleasure, etc. Be that as it may, I would prefer the art scenes by Cornelis Cornelisz. which the Prinsenhof in Haarlem displays and which are so greatly valued that a long time ago 600 guilders were offered for a painted foot (as it was allowed to be cut out of one of the depictions) [3] With regard to which the poet Jan Vos speaks and, as if pointing it out with a finger, says:

This is the foot for which people bid up to a hundred pounds:
But Utrecht has a foot which it would gladly give
away for free.
If a hundred pounds are not to be had there, what reason does the
Bishopric have?
Her foot would tread out of the church into the city hall

The host of glass painters that Gouda produced seem to me to have sufficed to fill all of the churches of Holland with their artworks because, in addition to those who were nurtured by others, the following sprang forth from the school of the brothers Crabeth: Jacob Caen, Jan Dirksz. Lonk, Govert Hendriksz., Jan Damesz. de Veth, Aert Verhaest, Gerard van Kuijl, Dirk de Vrije and Adriaen van der Spelt.

Aert Verhaest and Gerard van Kuijl were diligent fellow artists and faithful travel companions through France and down to Rome. Because of the threat that he would be cut off from his inheritance if he did not


Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
The wedding of Peleus and Thetis, 1592-1593
canvas, oil paint 246 x 419 cm
Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum, inv./cat.nr. 51

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return to his fatherland, Verhaest undertook the return journey after eleven years, but Van Kuijl remained abroad for fully twenty years, after which, having returned to Gouda, he died in the year 1673, whereas Verhaest had already died in the year 1666 and appears to have hastened to precede his travel companion on the journey to eternity before his return.

After he had repeatedly travelled to France for his art, DIRK de VRIJE exchanged his brush for the status of councillor and burgomaster of Gouda, and died in 1681.

ADRIAEN van der SPELT was born in Leiden by accident but owed his provenance to Gouda. He was an outstanding flower painter and remained at the court of Brandenburg for a long time. Finally he returned to Gouda, where he took as his third wife a vicious woman from Groningen who extinguished not only his love of painting but also the lamp of his life in the year 1673, before he had reached the middle stage of his old age.

Jan Franse Verzijl, Jan Damesz. de Veth and Jan and Pieter Donker will come on stage in their turn, but I have little to say about the others.

But before we proceed with them we will need to add to the preceding ones JOAN DAC [= Hans von Aachen] (who is not commemorated by Van Mander). He came from Cologne and studied art with Bartholomeus Spranger in the year 1556, which he later continued in Italy and then also in Germany, where it happened that Rudolf II, son


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of Maximilian II, took a shine to him, took him into his service and sent him to Italy to draw the most esteemed antiquities for him. Having returned he made many works worthy of praise for the Emperor. He died at the court and had garnered honour and property.

The ones for which Karel van Mander has described only part of their biographies, we have continually mentioned only as if in underpaint, and we will now, after due consideration, get started on repairing his picture where it is deficient. Our pen will serve as brush to clear up what is darkened by varnish, so that each in particular may be seen clearly. The first to come to hand in order of date is

JAN SNELLINCK. Karel van Mander calls him Hans Snellinck and says this about him in the life of Otto van Veen: There is in Antwerp an outstanding painter, born (if I have it right) in Malines, most splendid in the depiction of histories and battles. He was often used by princes and gentlemen to paint Netherlandish battles and knew most uniquely how to paint the soldiers, obscured here and there by clouds of gun powder. He may now, in 1604, be a man of 55 years. It follows that he was born in 1549. I know nothing more about him than that the great Anthony van Dyck thought him worthy of being classed with the best painters on account of his art and of rendering his portrait with his own hand. Just as that work is included among those that were issued in print. I cleared space for him at the top of Plate A. I have learned nothing about his work other than its fame.


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It would have been more effective if Cornelis de Bie, who followed so much more closely on Karel van Mander, had recorded something about him instead of my doing it now that so many years have passed. But what counsel? We have to accept that we have but little to say about some painters who were still alive in our day. Yes, I have barely been able to discover some of their dates of birth because there were no descendants left and those who knew them during their lifetime had died. In addition some who could have given a fair quantity of relevant information could not be bothered, which has often made me sad, seeing that my diligence was so hesitantly supported. Yes, I can truthfully assure the reader that if I had found everyone of whom I made enquiries and asked about things that remained obscure for me, as eager and inclined as I was, a lot more things would have come to greater light that will now remain buried in obscurity forever.

Around this time, or perhaps a little earlier, ISAAC NICOLAI [= ISAAC CLAESZ. van SWANENBURG] was born in Leiden. I have not been able to trace the precise date of his birth. It also surprises me that Karel van Mander does not devote a word to him, all the more because Swanenburg was a man of consequence and repeatedly burgomaster of the city of Leiden. In addition he lived long enough back then to be able to catch rumours of his name and art, for one already finds his name on the roll of burgomasters in 1596.* In addition some of his

* See the Beschryvinge der stad Leiden, p. 618.


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artworks were then already to be seen, in particular in the court of justice, in the great tanning hall [4-9] and in some of the great houses of Leiden. What passion this gentleman had for art is shown by this, that he nurtured three of his sons in it. The oldest one, Jacob Isaacsz. van Swanenburg, was for a long time in Naples, where he also married a woman and returned with her in the year 1617 to his native city of Leiden, having practiced art there and elsewhere to the satisfaction of art lovers until death cut off the thread of his life within Utrecht in the year 1639. Claes Isaacsz. van Swanenburg, his second son, remained in The Hague, where his art was in demand. Willem Isaacsz. van Swanenburg was in his time captain of the civic guard of Delft and an esteemed engraver, but his life was mowed down by the scythe of death in the year 1612.

Now appears ADAM van NOORT

How often the memory of alert men and their praiseworthy works have become buried in oblivion by time and the fury of Mars is clear from this, that after doing research on them I am not able to say anything about him but that Karel van Mander mentions his name in the life of Otto van Veen and that Cornelis de Bie praises his art, saying:

Van Noort did this art so well and handsomely,
That many spirits are amazed by it.
It is not to be compared to the gold of Croesus.
That rich treasure must give way
to his divine gifts.


Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
Washing the furs and sorting the wool, 1607 or 1612
panel, oil paint 131 x 182 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 419

Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
Shearing and combing the furs, 1594-1596
panel, oil paint 131,5 x 196 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 420

Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
Spinning, shearing the warp and weaving the wool, 1594-1596
panel, oil paint 137,5 x 196 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 421

Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
Fulling and dyeing, 1594-1596
panel, oil paint 133 x 196 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 422

Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
The Leiden City Virgin between the Old and the New Trade, 1596-1601
panel, oil paint 136 x 240,5 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 423

Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg
The Leiden City Virgin grants the approvals to the trade, 1596-1601
panel, oil paint 137,5 x 173 cm
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, inv./cat.nr. S 424

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Below his portrait, engraved by Hendrick Snyers, one reads that he was a pupil of his father Lambert van Noort,* that he was born in Antwerp in the year 1557, and that he died in 1641 [10]. His portrait based on that portrait is seen in Plate C. next to Adam Elsheimer.

OTTO VAN VEEN was born in the year 1558 in an important and famous family in Leiden. He lost his parents early on. His guardians or supervisors let him study languages and also the art of drawing with Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg, who was burgomaster of Leiden in the year 1596. When he was fifteen, they sent him to Liège to continue practicing linguistics. He showed signs of his great intellect early on both in languages and in the art of drawing, to which he was especially inclined. Thus, under the pretext of continuing the practice of languages he sought out opportunity to continue in art, at which he succeeded. He was particularly familiar with Cardinal Gerard van Groesbeeck (says Du Piles) who gave him letters of recommendation to Cardinal Maducio in Rome, where he was well received. He then practiced in languages, physics, poetry, mathematical sciences and painting under the supervision of Federico Zuccaro, so that he was seen in Italy as a man trained in all sciences and as a consequence as one of the greatest intellects of that time.

After he had made several praiseworthy works, he left for Germany and was at

* This Lambert van Noort of Amersfoort, great painter and architect, joined the Saint Luke’s guild in Antwerp in the year 1547.


Hendrick Snyers after Jacques Jordaens published by Joannes Meyssens
Portrait of Adam van Noort (1562-1641), c. 1649
paper, copper engraving, 2nd state 161 x 113 mm
The Hague, RKD – Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis (Collectie Iconografisch Bureau)

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first received into the service of the Emperor and later also of the Electors of Bavaria and Cologne. But all the advantages offered to him by the court were not able to hold him for long, so that he left and offered his services to the Prince of Parma (who then governed the Netherlands), and painted the Prince’s portrait life sized and full length in his harness.

After the death of the prince he left for Antwerp, where he made many works of art which may still be seen in churches there.

When Archduke Albrecht of Austria governed in the place of Parma, he summoned Van Veen to Brussels and made him supervisor of the Mint. But even though this function presented many hindrances, he did not leave off painting. He painted mentioned Archduke as well as the Infante Isabella Clara Eugenia, daughter of Philip II, King of Spain, who was born in 1566 and in 1599 married Archduke Albrecht VII, who was a son of Emperor Ferdinand II. These works were sent as homage to James King of England.

To show now that his spirit was competent in all things he made a long series of Emblemata or Emblems, a work for intellects only.

Thus one saw by him emblems of Horace and the life of St. Thomas Aquinas [11] as well as emblems of profane love, which he dedicated to the mentioned Infante, who so much appreciated this that she required him to make something similar for Divine Love [12].

Louis XIII, King of France,


Otto van Veen
The life of Thomas Aquino, dated 1610
brown prepared paper, pen in dark brown ink, gouache (material/technique), oil paint, framing line in black 181 x 179 mm
Antwerp, Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. PK.OT.00371 - PK.OT.00388

Otto van Veen
Amoris Divini Emblemata: Ex Amore Adoptio (Children are adopted for Love), in or shortly before 1615
paper, brown oil paint, framing line in pen in grey ink, grisaille 135 x 110 mm
Moscow, Pushkin Museum, inv./cat.nr. 4560

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