Houbraken Translated


Volume 2, page 30-39

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After he had lived in Madrid for some years he again felt himself attracted to Naples and Rome. But the King detained him from year to year saying: After you will have made this or that artwork for me, and gave him a team of handsome mules, or something else beyond the annual sum of 5,000 ducats, until he died.

Among his most important art works (other than those he made in Spain) is counted a piece of fresco in Rome in the Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle. It is so outstanding in art that those that we have mentioned (according to the opinion of those who have seen it in Rome) are but bagatelles of his brush.

GILLIS SCHAGEN, son of Pieter Jansz Schagen, in his time councilman and later bailiff of Alkmaar, accountant in the Generality Chamber of Accounts, Council of State and States General etc. (who was well-advanced on his own, with no other instructor but his passion for art) was born in Alkmaar on the 24th of June 1616.

Having been inclined and driven to art from his birth, he was given Salomon van Ravesteyn as first instructor and later the horse painter Pieter Cornelisz. Verbeeck.

In 1637, spurred on by love of travel and desire to see outstanding examples of use in developing his art, he shipped by sea to Danzig, visiting painters there, and found himself well-received by one Mister Joost Brasser. Shortly thereafter, having left for Elbing


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and having been well-received by Bartholomäus Strobel, then painter of the emperor and later of Wladislaus IV King of Poland, he there painted a portrait of the King of Poland as a sample of his art. Again returned to Danzig he was overcome by an illness. Having been cured, he practised his brush there for some time and then left for his fatherland, where he did not remain for long, for he left by warship for Dieppe, then to Paris, and after a short stay there to Orléans.

His presence there lasted almost a year, and in that time he made various portraits of the most eminent people, until summoned by Mister Bailly, Lord of Ivry, Council of the King of France etc., he left Orléans for Paris. This was in February 1639.

Having arrived there he painted the portraits of the children of the Lord of Yvry and further became acquainted with the engravers Michel van Lochom and Nicolaes van Lijnhoven of Haarlem, and with Mister Van Klootwijk of Dordrecht.

He also copied a work by Michelangelo depicting a Saint John coming to Christ, for the repeatedly mentioned Lord of Yvry, and another for one La Toyliere, depicting a dead Christ in the lap of Mary, painted by Peter Paul Rubens, by which he garnered much fame.

In October of that same year he shipped for the English coast, just at the time that the naval hero Maerten Harpertsz. Tromp lay ready to strike against Antonio de Oquendo.

Visiting the admiral in Downs, he was well-received, and a yacht put at his disposal in case it pleased him to draw the fleet.


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He saw the sea battle and after that sailed up the Meuse River.

When the peace with Spain had been sealed he undertook a journey to Brabant in the company of Admiral Philips van Dorp and Mister Van den Corput of Dordrecht, and in the year 1651 he went to the lands of Liège and Cologne in the company of Mister Paffenrode and treasurer Van Den Broek.

Certainly pleasure lovers would gladly make such play journeys, provided they were assured that Jupiter would occasionally tuck some gold in the fist (as he did with Danaë's nurse) to pay the innkeepers.

Finally (after having been four times city mason or architect of his native city and then orphan master) our GILLIS SCHAGEN was overcome by a deadly sickness which snuffed out the lamp of his life on the 18th of April 1668.

There is little of his brushwork to be seen in this land since (as the proverb says) he did not paint for bread, and only two of his clay models are at hand with his descendants, of which one is his own portrait.

Karel van Mander I has booked several examples of how many arrived at art through rare accidents. Quinten Massijs I, being a smith, fell in love with a girl but found that a fellow lover, who was a painter, got in his way, which is why, spurred on by jealousy, he turned to the practice of art and became a great master, achieving his intention by that means.

Maarten van Heemskerck, a farmer’s son, carrying a bucket of milk, tripped and dumped the milk,


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so that he feared to return home, his father being an irascible man. He took flight and went to the painter’s shop of Jan Lucasz. in Delft, where his hidden art fire was soon fanned up and he finally became a commendable painter.

A similar instance gave LUDOLF de JONGH, born in Overschie in 1616, reason to turn to art.

His father was a tanner and shoemaker there, to which trade he raised his son. But when the boy botched things or did his work badly, his father treated him a little severely with the belt, so that he resolved not to learn the trade any further. From that time on his desires were set on art until the father came to live in Rotterdam, and through the recommendation of other people who sensed a spirit of art in him, he was placed with Cornelis Saftleven, a handsome painter of figures, animals, and ghosts, who instructed him in drawing. Later on he was placed in Delft with Anthonie Palamedesz., who was a good portraitist but who paid little attention to him, so that being dissatisfied he left for Utrecht and Jan van Bijlert, with whom he progressed so greatly in art that, having returned home from there in the year 1635, he at once undertook a journey to France with one Frans Bacon, 19 years old. He remained there for seven consecutive years and would probably have remained longer were it not that his father summoned him home because his mother was ailing at this time. He


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obeyed and came home, but he had by then so thoroughly forgotten the Dutch language that his parents needed to fetch someone who understood the French language and thus be able to talk to him.

Since that time he has made many portraits in Rotterdam for the most important people of that city, and made many friends by his pleasant behaviour and art. He later came to marry the daughter of Pieter Montagne, who was closely acquainted with various gentlemen of the government of Rotterdam and Schoonhoven, by which connection he was favoured with the post of burgomaster of the city of Rotterdam, which he carried out until the year 1664. In the meantime the flame of art remained alive in him, so that he made a large portrait piece for the militia at that time. It may still be seen today in the civic shooting range, hanging in the Prince’s Room, which proclaims the power of his brushwork.

Later he exchanged the office of burgomaster for that of Sheriff of Hillegersberg, which he carried out to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants until the year 1697, when he died.

In addition to the many life-sized portraits that he made between the disruptions caused by his duties, he also painted to acclaim various modern chamber pieces, battles, hunts etc., whatever took his fancy, purely for amusement.

He is followed by PIETER de HOOCH, who was outstanding in the painting of views of room containing companies of gentlemen and damsels. He studied for some time with (the famous)


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Nicolaes Berchem at the same time as Jacob Ochtervelt, who was satisfied that he was able to paint naturally and in detail small companies of damsels and gentlemen or a woman who sits sewing or doing needlework, without using much perspective for his backgrounds, which requires geometrical judgment and close attention.

Up to the year 1604 Karel van Mander I spoke commendably about HENDRICK GOLTZIUS (then being a man of 46 years) and the worthy art of his brush and engraving.

The respect that I have for the man’s work, and the way of writing that I have envisioned, command me to commemorate the remembrance of the man’s time of death in the year 1617 by showing his grave inscription.





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Joost van den Vondel has the tombstone of HENDRICK GOLTZIUS speak thus to Theodor Matham.

Who helps me now to erect a tombstone,
And artfully carve it in marble,
Your grandfather’s splendour and art,
Which draws unto itself everyone’s favour.
Yes also the eye and heart of the great
From their eminent and high
It grieves Envy from afar
BAVARIAN ruler [=Wilhelm V von Bayern] and Federico BORROMEO,
To the fame of Hendrik’s thumb and fingers
medals and golden chains.
Around his neck, etc.

I thought that his city chronicler would have mentioned something about his works after 1604 (for he carried on with them until the end of his life), but I consulted that book in vain. The author failed to braid its most beautiful pearl into Haarlem’s city crown.

If Athens in olden days boasted to other Greek cities that she provided the cradle to so many intellects, so Haarlem, more than other cities in our region, could take pride in having produced painters, had not her city historian wiped them out through neglect or lack of appreciation for that art. Thanks are owed


Jacob Matham after Hendrick Goltzius
Portrait of Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), 1618
paper, 4th state 215 x 131 mm
The Hague, RKD – Nederlands Instituut voor Kunstgeschiedenis (Collectie Iconografisch Bureau)

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to the writers of Delft, Gouda, Leiden and Amsterdam, who have satisfactory shown (as may be seen from their way of writing) that they had unusual respect for artists and their praiseworthy works, and that it was an honour for their city to have produced artists. But of what use is it that Samuel Ampzing compiled an entire list of painters, presenting their names like miscreants, as if they had neither mother not father? He could at least, as is still done in churches, have recorded the year they were laid as foundling. Unfortunate favourites of Pictura! Was it not worth the trouble to the writer to sharpen his pen for you even once? If only he had said as much about you as about the weavers and their products, I would have been able to clear a place for you among the painters. Because on page 342 the writer mentions about them and their famous works: In the year 1598 a piece of linen was sold in Haarlem for 14 guilders per Flemish ell* to send to France.

* For XIV guilders) It gives cause for surprise when one takes into consideration what value money was estimated at around that time. That can be seen from this one example namely
The copy of an act concerning some income, emoluments or advantages for the rector of the Groote School, from the special schools Ao, 1569.
We burgomasters, aldermen and council members of the city of Haarlem announce to everyone that we have admitted and permitted, just as we admit etc. etc. subject to this Hendrik Dirkz., to be allowed to run special schools in the specified cities. On the further proviso, and on the condition, that he will report the boys that he currently has and will accept after this to the principal of the great school


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And still another weaving measuring 75 Dutch ells, which weighed only 3 pounds, was sent to Spain. But in the year 1606, on the 15th of August something even more unusual happened. A well-known burgher of this city, named Jakob Janzen Smuisers, now resident in Beek on the corner of the Warmoestraat, traded in the mentioned year with one Passchier Lamertyn a piece of linen so fine as had never before been seen, 50 ells long, for 45 barrels of the best wine {Court}, which amounted to substantially more than the above mentioned: and this piece NB was woven by one Govert Willemzen, then living in the Barrevoetzusterensteeg and cost 200 guilders of weavers’ wages. The thread was so fine and stretched so far that from the weight of about 15 grams more than five and a quarter sheets were woven. What do you think, reader, of such a precise author? Would one not imagine that one would find the artists booked in the same detail with such an author,

and have them entered in his register, and give him caution and guarantee for his customary right and tution, being for every boy of five for each quarter year, during the admission of the same until further notice, and no longer. To proclaim this we have have attached the seal here below concerning the mentioned city of Haarlem the XVth of July Ao. XVC sixty nine.
Was signed

In the year 1627, all the special school teachers, be they German or French have requested exemption from the mentioned levies of the fees, which has been granted and permitted by marginal note of the city council, the gentlemen burgomasters to that end negotiated in this matter with the rector of the great school to the increase of his annual income or wages, and drawn up an agreement.
See p. 511 of the Beschrijvinge ende lof der Stad Haerlem by Samuel Ampzing.


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who expresses himself so expansively about the weavers’ trade? But what can I say about the weaver’s trade? I could not do justice to the eulogy to weaving made in the year 1580 (and written on one of the main columns of one of the Haarlem churches, since it shows with identified texts from the Holy Scriptures that it is an art. We have deemed the farce worth copying for its old refrain.

In Moses’ time over many years
The art of weaving already flourished,
1 Bezalel and Oholiab, faithful servants
Driven by
God’s spirit, used it themselves,
Advanced with application, also furbished
The Lord’s tabernacle (so it is written)
shaped by all sorts of silk work
Was first
erected by the thimble.
And beside these also turned to weaving
2 Tobias’ housewife, to make a living
With her hands, without resorting
To lies or deceit, so we find,
And still others, who
could have thought up
This godly edict (which may well be called great)
3 By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.

If our author had spoken of such weaving and products of weaving as are mentioned in the rhyme above, it would be somewhat excusable, even though that activity may only be called a craft and not an art, since the

1 Exodus: 31. verse 35
2 Tobias: 2. verse 19.
3 Genesis: 3. verse 19. 2 Thessalonians: 3. verses 10, 11, and 12.


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