Houbraken Translated


Volume 2, page 160-169

Page 160

No less than with sword and pistols,
And set out on journey. Three times I was struck
And looked back. I said
why do I want to wander
Did I not love my fatherland?
Where could one
practise more comfortably?
Why is my soul thus saddened?
And my spirit
So greatly disturbed? Why does my strength fail me?
nightingale answered: Come, do come,
And take pleasure in meadows and parks,
Freedom is a worthy kingdom,
Go seek her in remote lands.
My city,
out of desire, I gave the last greeting:
I shook the bridle and urged the steed with spurs
snorted and neighed and ran fleet of foot,
Along dike and valley, through meadow and field with wheat,
Until Utrecht, in the widely renowned
Into the Veluwe, in
unsteady gusts
In storm upon storm, accompanied by lightning,
But quickly sweetened by May time’s beautiful days,
Thus I rode etc.

The urge to see Italy, the cabinet of ancient sculpture and painting, stayed with him, however, and neither the favour of Emperor Ferdinand III, nor the medal of his favour, nor the links of the eight-carat gold chain were strong enough to keep him from his intention or to halt his journey to Rome, where he (I see him before me) admires with open mouth in the most splendid palaces of the Farnese, Ludovisi, Montalto, Odescalchi and many others, the matchless marble statues and paintings by Rafaël, Michelangelo, Parmigianino, Tiziano, Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, Paolo Veronese and Giovanni Lanfranco, and in the face of all that beauty does not know (he who has choice


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knows fear) which to select as the most artful.

After this he also undertook a journey to England, about which trip the profound poet Heyman Dullaert, who also painted artfully, wrote these lines:

To the Wind.

Aye carry rapidly a hero of art rich with rays,
Used to painting by
the noble day of ruler’s favour
requisite Fortune awaits him with open arms:
So that he, whose brush gave
imperishable life
To so many others, and still has to give to
many more,
Is not violated by death
through shipwreck out of revenge.

He was also remembered by his friend Abraham van Groeningen, a fine intellect, who wished him good fortune on this journey with a witty sonnet. He returned to his fatherland with honour and advantage, the aim of all artists, to pass the rest of his days, averse to further bustle and satisfied with his fate, with the practice of art and writing, for he was then still busy completing his two books, the Zichtbaere Werelt, which had been printed, and the Onzichtbare Wereld.* When I was placed under his supervision I was to have the honour of joining him in etching the plates of the Book on the Art of Painting, when another disciple, who

* Which still lie locked away in rolls until after I have completed this current activity, when I will put the last hand to them to have them published.


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disputed that advantage, caused nothing to come of it, after I had made a print as proof, which is depicted on page 269 [1].

In my time he rarely went to visit anyone other than the gentlemen Cornelis Pompe van Meerdervoort, knight and bailiff of the city of Dordrecht, and Willem van Blijenbergh, alderman, who also often dropped in on him and was beloved by him for his sciences), and also the members of the Mint, but this was ex officio, as people say, since he was provost* of the Dutch mint.

His lessons of instruction or rules of art were based on firm ground, his instructions always went accompanied with examples, his teaching with gravity and seriousness, and his expressions were comprehensible. And if his saying was not at first understood, he had the patience to clarify it with gestures. It has happened that one of his disciples showed him the sketch of his composition (as everyone had to do every week), but had paid little attention to the correct workings of the figures, which he had put down any old way. At once it was being said, read the text; and asked, is that supposed to be the figure who says this? If they then answered yes, then Hoogstraten usually said: Imagine that I am that other person, to whom you have to say this; say it to me. If they then declaimed the words according to the

* Provost. There are two of them who change from year to year and are most responsible for the business of the mint. By them differences between masters and apprentices or mistakes made are brought before aldermen, over which the Warden of Mint and two sworn in parties preside and judge.


Arnold Houbraken
The Shadows of the Sun with Their Cast Striations, 1678
paper, engraving 205 x 167 mm
lower right : AHB
London, British Library

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letter of the text, without emotion, with hands in pockets, or as statues, it was his saying: pockets have been made so that money would not drop through the fingers while being carried; and at once got up from his place and had the disciple sit there, saying: Now I will show you how, watch the gestures,* way of standing, or inclination of the body, as I speak, and demonstrated it (as the proverb goes) with finger and thumb. It happened that I showed him a working sketch about a scriptural subject in which I had invented some additions as decoration for the

* Gestures. To give his students a firmer impression of the gestures and movements that ought to accompany an artful address and to make them more used to it, he chose the most competent of his disciples (when he lived in the front house, which has since been joined to the brewery of the Oranjeboom in Dordrecht, where he had ample opportunity to store a complete theatre in the spacious attic) and assigned each a rôle to perform in his or someone else’s play, to which they were then allowed to invite their parents or other good acquaintances as spectators to the play, concerning which Samuel van Hoogstraten served as a second Petrus Francius.
At times he also let his disciples, as refreshment for their tense thoughts, show or play a shadow dance, serving not only for amusement but especially to have them know and understand the manifold changes, lenghthening and shortening of the quickly changing appearance of the shadows (originating from the closeness or distance of the light). Just as he shows the equipment of the same along with a display print on page 260 of Melpomene of the VIIth book of the Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst.
Such activities are a lot more praiseworthy than those which people seek with Bacchus. And one may rightly describe them with the saying Prodesse & Delectare.


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filling of the background, thinking that I had certainly had outdone myself. But my pants were not as new as I had imagined, because he first asked (pointing to the addition) what does that mean? I answered I did that for appearances sake. Whereupon he said to me, one should not do things for appearances but give a reason for everything one makes, why one has made it or otherwise not make it. He also had a habit when we did something that displeased him to indicate this with elaborations, sayings, or some story. It happened (while I also went to church confirmation classes or gatherings at that time) that I had written the subject to be treated the next Sunday on a piece of paper and had carelessly laid it on the shelf of my easel instead of hiding it somewhere else. My master took it in his hand and read the contents, which were thus: Whether the case of Adam was a contingent business or whether God had foreknowledge of it. He laid it back down, but ere he left me said. When I was young it did the same and thought it was a pastime, but when I became wiser, I found that it was time wasted.

He was usually of a quiet and steady spirit, and if at times something occurred amongst his disciples that annoyed him, or if they carried out some pranks, as the young are sometimes wont to do, he did not lash out at them but knew how the temper the bite of his reproaches with the sweetness of his calm and accommodating nature. One instance, may it not bore you reader,


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I must here relate as an example.

I was the oldest pupil amongst his disciples at the time, situated above his studio, the others in a room below, above the central court, where we often talked to each other, I from above and they from below, when had gone out. Now and then they also begged for a bunch of muscatel grapes, to which I could help them as the vines had grown above the attic window; which I could not do carefully enough or, because of the falling of loose grapes and leaves, it was found out by the maid and reported to her master who subsequently came to me and said: that he could tell we were inclined to be together and that by calling to them from the window I might displease the neighbours, as if their freedom were under surveillance (without once mentioning the grapes) which is why he thought it advisable to have me sit with them (the other pupils), which happened. What to do now? The way to get at the grapes, whose muscatel taste still tickled our tongues, had thus been cut off, and the vine had too high a trunk to be able to reach it from the ground. As a consequence it was decided by common accord to tie a penknife to the top of the stick of a dust mop to reach the bunches and cut them off. The idea was sound but the handle was too short, which therefore necessitated the use of an empty beer barrel to stand on, which I was assigned to do by drawing lots, and two others to stand to either side in their aprons to catch the bunches that descended without damage, and collect


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the leaves, so that nothing would fall in the courtyard that might betray our work. This play proceeded in this fashion but I, who could not hear as well as those who stood below because of the stirring of the leaves, and who had already taken off at the approach of Hoogstraten before I noticed, was seen by him, still standing in position, through the panes of the kitchen, which I noticed, and leaving the stick there, fled from the yard in all haste. Now our plan was discovered and each of us already feared the curry-comb, but things turned out better than we had imagined. After the passing of a half hour Hoogstraten came with the same stick, first to my buddies, then also to my room, and with the stick dragging behind him, went thrice around the easel at which I was sitting without speaking. But (after he had stood behind me for a while) called my accomplices, displayed the stick with the penknife tied to the front and said: what was the purpose of the tool? A penknife tied at right angles to a dust-mop? But none of us answered, but we stood with our eyes turned to the ground, just like criminals in the place of justice. Finally (after he had turned and examined the stick about six times where the penknife was tied) he began to say: See, this is a very clever invention; whoever the inventor may be? It would truly serve well the reach the grapes if they hang a little too high, one could easily take an empty barrel to stand on. But you know what (he continued) such a venture has its dangers for the bottom of the barrel could easily


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collapse and the one standing on it break a leg or an arm. That is why (to prevents such accidents) I have decided to have a latch put on the outside of the door to prevent this, which happened. Thus we got off easier than the fellow in the farce of the grape thief. Stated with one word, he punished with consideration and taught with wisdom.

After having left him and practiced art after life on my own, he no longer bothered himself with the instruction of his disciples and not even applied himself much to painting, but only for pleasure finished some pieces left incomplete. Because he was coming slowly to understand from the weakness (or bodily ailment) that he had that he would ere long have to turn into the way of all flesh to eternity. He died in Dordrecht on the 19th of October of the year 1678, and his housewife Sara Balen followed him that same year on the 21st of November. His brother’s son David van Hoogstraten made this in his memory on his portrait painted by himself [2].

Thus Hoogstraten painted himself after life
But better still in such a series of paintings
Full of art, which free his name of mortality.
Now the Dordrecht maid sheds her tears on his grave.

His brother François van Hoogstraten I honoured him with an elegy in which he introduced him speaking,


Samuel van Hoogstraten
Self-portrait of Samuel van Hoogstraten (16271678), 1677
panel, oil paint, brunaille 20 x 16,4 cm
center : Hoogstraeten in ...af / Wanneer hij uijt.../Die zijner .oem.../ ...stort de ... zijn graf
Dordrecht, Museum Simon van Gijn, inv./cat.nr. 1461

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with the intention of having it written on a scene and hang in the chapel of the Mint, which is where he is buried, but envy thwarted this. One may well count him among the fortunate painters of his century since, favoured by Fortune, he mostly sailed before the windHis brother Johan or Hans van Hoogstraten (which is how he wished to be called), who was younger than he, was also into art. I find his name booked for the year 1649 on a list of St. Luke journeymen in Dordrecht. He was at the court in Vienna together with his brother, where he also died.

In the Miscellaneous Poems by François van Hoogstraten I I find in his memory

Commemorative Text on
In the gallery of the Church of the Cross in Vienna.

I carried art
to its highest,
When a harpy*
took me down:
Death, to rob me of that fame,
my youth prematurely.

A certain sculptor of marble, a friend of Samuel van Hoogstraten, honoured his gravestone with a marble infant, depicting the transience of human life.

It was grievous for my master that such

* Quaedam species morbi comitialis.


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a shoot of the art trunk was torn away, and to be regretted that a youth of whom something good was to be hoped from, was so untimely felled (when he had first truly put his life to use for the advancement of art). It pleases us to tell about an amusing incident that happened to him in that connection. Being in Vienna, he had begun to paint the denial of Peter. The impudent maid was completed. For a timorous Peter, he lacked a suitable model. For this reason he went to the market square, where he found riffraff, and said to one whom he judged might serve his needs that he should follow him. The good man, hoping for kind alms, followed him to his house; but Jan van Hoogstraten (no matter how deficient he still was in the German language) indicated to him that he must follow; which is what he did, right to his studio. But as soon as he saw the unusual equipment, here a skull and there a headless mannequin, he began to tremble and shake, totally upset. And no matter how cordially he was treated and what handsome promises were made to him of being paid well if he would only sit down and let himself be painted, the beggar was deaf to all this, but looked with eagle's eyes how he might best slip away from there, seized his opportunity and jumped down the stairs, to the door, to escape. By accident Samuel van Hoogstraten enters, who stops him, while his brother Jan runs after him. The former, not knowing about this incident, examines the reasons for such noise. The beggar, in extreme anxiety, prayed that


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