Houbraken Translated

RKD STUDIES

Volume 3, page 40-49


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Thus Ter Borch shows a sketch of the best of Cornelia
Her face is graced by coral, roses and lilies.
Thus she shines in her youth, by his inspired strokes.
He who wants to see her old has to listen to her speak.

But especially praised amongst his numerous and detailed painted portraits is the art work of the Münster Peace negotiations, in which all the portraits of the nobles and gentlemen who were presents at the closing of the peace are depicted after life [1]. He demanded 6,000 guilders for his art work, but since less was offered for it he has kept it and it still remains in Deventer with the gentleman stewart Terborgh. He painted himself amongst the spectators, which resembles him exceptionally well. And an artfully cut print is based on the mentioned piece, which is ever valued by lovers of art on paper, as is the art of his brush, which one finds in the most commendable cabinets of Holland [2].

We show his portrait, artfully painted after life and sent to me from Zwolle, with an engraved version in Plate B 3.

Next to him appears on stage the famous modern society painter GABRIEL METSU. It grieves us that we are able to say so little with respect to his way of life. Because all we know about it is that he

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1
Gerard ter Borch (II)
The Treaty of Munster, 15 May 1648, dated 1648
copper, oil paint 45,4 x 58,3 cm
upper left : GTBorch. F.Monasterij.A.1648
London, National Gallery (London), inv./cat.nr. NG896

2
Jonas Suyderhoef after Gerard ter Borch (II)
The Treaty of Munster, 15 May 1648, in or after 1648
paper, copper engraving 466 x 583 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-OB-68.251


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was born in Leiden in the year 1615. We were not able to discover any more, which is why we have placed him with his contemporary, so that his portrait is shown in Plate B next to Gerard ter Borch II.

The art-loving Mister Jean de Wolff had a work of art by Metsu, certainly the largest and liveliest that I have ever seen by him, depicting a maternity visit by ladies and gentlemen [3]. This piece was so creative in its arrangement, drawn so spiritedly, loosely and artistically, with flesh so softly, lightly and powerfully blended and the different materials and satins so thinly painted and naturally pleated that it was a delight to look at. In addition to this it could clearly be seen from the particular way the figures stood and bent over, as they stand about conversing, what each intended to say. I have always asked myself how that gentleman could have let this go.

There is at present in The Hague, in the cabinet of the art-loving Mister Johan van Schuylenburch, an artwork also painted during his best period, depicting a lady who washes her hands over a silver washbasin, which is held up by a maidservant, while a gentleman coming into the door of the chamber, bows before her [4].

The art-loving Mister Jeronimus Tonneman has a piece, small but painted and drawn most skilfully, depicting a woman tuning a lute [5]. The female head, besides having a lovely face, is also beautifully, thinly, finely, elaborately and powerfully painted, as are the hands, which could not be more artistic even if Antony van Dyck had painted them. The velvet jacket

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3
Gabriel Metsu
Visit to the nursery, dated 1661
canvas, oil paint 77,5 x 81,3 cm
left center : G. Metsu 1661
New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv./cat.nr. 17.190.20


4
Gabriel Metsu
Man greeting a woman washing her hands, c. 1662-1664
canvas, oil paint 83,7 x 67,4 cm
center right : G. Metsu
Private collection

5
Gabriel Metsu
A woman tuning her cittern while a man looks on, c. 1659-1662
panel, oil paint 36,5 x 30 cm
Kassel (Hessen), Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, inv./cat.nr. GK 301


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trimmed with white fur, the satin skirt, the figure of the man, the dog, and other still life that appears with it, are all executed according to its own character, rivalling nature.

He often also painted a young woman showing her wares, with vegetables, fruit, fish, birds, or four-legged game, and a maidservant who arrives at market. Among these kinds of works, which are usually not large, one finds ones that are painted so finely and artistically from life that it is a joy to see, including a view into some studio or drawing school, with plaster casts, painter's paraphernalia, loose prints, art books, and whatever else deemed to be part of still life, gathered in the foreground, all of which he painted after life.

He was a man of praiseworthy behaviour and died in Amsterdam, where he had lived most of his life. He had a bladder stone cut out in the afternoon of his life, in 1658 when 43 years old.

JOHANN SPILBERG II was born in Düsseldorf on the 30th of April of the year 1619.

His father [= Johann Spilberg I] was an artful painter in oil paints and on glass and was for many years in the service of his eminence Duke Johann Wilhelm von Jülich-Kleve-Berg, and later of Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuberg, and member of the council of the city of the city of Düsseldorf. His uncle, Gabriel Spilberg, was painter of the king of Spain [= Carlos II].

After he had practiced Latin and other languages, he turned to the art of the brush, in which he progressed so far that Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm

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took great pleasure in it and, wishing to be of service to him, wrote a letter to Rubens (for whose art he had great respect) in which he recommended the young man to his care. And he set him with it to Antwerp. But he heard along the way that Rubens had died. He therefore journeyed to Amsterdam and the famous Govert Flinck, under whom he practiced art for seven years on end, making under the supervision of his master various commendable pieces, both histories and portraits, by which he became known and found reason to continue to live there and get married to Maria Fis on the 20th of July of the year 1694 [= 1649], by whom he had 2 sons and 3 daughters.

At that time the burgomasters of Amsterdam decided to have a large work painted, and in it a group of harquebusiers of which burgomaster Jan van de Poll was commander. To this end a number of masters were selected to make a model for it. Our painter was one of these, but his model pleased them so much that they commissioned this work from him, which he carried out famously [6], which is why he received a present beyond his agreed-upon wages. This work is now still to be seen in Amsterdam in the target range on the Singel.

As soon as his fame spread, Duke Wolfgang Wilhelm appointed him as court painter. Arrived there he painted the portrait of the ruler [7], his spouse Katarina Charlotte Duchess of Zweibrücken [8], the Count Palatine Philipp Wilhelm von der Pfalz-Neuburg, his spouse, the daughter of the King of Poland [= Anna Catherine Constance Vasa] [9] and other greats of the court with great

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6
Johann Spilberg (II)
Feast of the civic guard in honor of the appointment of Burgomaster Jan van de Poll (1597-1678) as colonel, 1650, dated 1650
canvas, oil paint 297,5 x 589 cm
lower right : Johan:Spilberg 1650
Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum, inv./cat.nr. SA 7406

7
Johann Spilberg (II)
Portrait of Wolfgang Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg, Duke of Jülich-Berg (1578-1653), dated 1648
canvas, oil paint 121 x 94 cm
location unknown : Joh. Spilberg fecit 1648
Düsseldorf, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf


8
Johann Spilberg (II)
Portrait of Katharina Charlotte of Palatine Zweibrücken (1615-1651), c. 1648
canvas, oil paint 120 x 94 cm
Düsseldorf, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf

9
Johann Spilberg (II)
Portrait of Anna Catharina Constantia Wasa (1619-1651), Electress Palatine, dated 1648
canvas, oil paint 116 x 89 cm
lower right : Joh.Spilberg fecit.1648
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./cat.nr. 6728


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pleasure, so that the rulers offered him gold medals and other gifts as well as their goodwill.

At the same time the ruler sent him with the field marshal to Cologne to paint a portrait of the Gentlewoman von Fürstenberg, for which he received a great gift.

After the death of the ruler he took his household to Amsterdam. But it did not take long or the Count Palatine Philipp Wilhelm followed in place of the deceased one, and appointed him as his court painter.

Arrived there he painted the ruler and his spouse and again all the princes and princesses several times, including the oldest daughter [= Eleonore Magdalene von Pfalz-Neuburg], who married the Emperor [10-11]. At that time he also painted the Elector of Brandenburg, who was so pleased with the work that he asked him to come to his court, but he refused.

While in the service of the ruler he also painted various altarpieces, to be seen in Düsseldorf with the flagellants, and in Benrath, at Amsfort castle.

When the elector left his land for Poland, our painter completed all his incomplete works and returned with his wife and children to Amsterdam.

Some years later Johann Wilhelm Elector Palatine was put in charge. He at once summoned our Spilberg, to whom he was well-disposed from an early age. For him he painted various history pieces as well as a great altarpiece, which was placed in the church in Roermont. He also artfully painted the entire life of Hercules, somewhat larger than life,

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10
Johann Spilberg (II)
Portrait of Eleonore Magdalene Therese Countess Palatine of Neuburg (1655-1720), ca. 1676-1690
canvas, oil paint 195 x 112 cm
Düsseldorf, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf, inv./cat.nr. B 240

11
Johann Spilberg (II)
Portrait of Eleonore Magdalene Therese Countess Palatine of Neuburg (1655-1720), Holy Roman Empress, ca. 1676-1690
canvas, oil paint 108 x 83,5 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./cat.nr. 5617


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to be seen in the castle in Düsseldorf.

With this art work completed, the ruler charged him to paint a large life of Christ, but irate death, no longer able to tolerate his fame, dragged him (with various pieces already complete) into his grave on the 10th of August of the year 1690.

He had a daughter named Adriana, born in Amsterdam on the 5th of December 1650. Seeing she was by nature inclined to art, he instructed her from her infancy in the arts of drawing and painting. She drew skilfully after life in pastels, or with crayon, and also elaborately in oil paints, and gained much fame thereby. He left her in Amsterdam when he departed for the Palatine Court for the last time, as he wished to keep his household and carry out his business for the ruler while travelling off and on.

The Elector’s consort, when she heard speak of the fame of his daughter's art, commanded him to summon her. But as she did not wish to leave her mother, whom she loved greatly, the ruler charged him to go to Amsterdam to break up his household there and to come live at the court with wife and children, offering not only to defray the travel expenses but also giving him a golden medal as a present for his daughter to entice her and assure her of his favour. This was in the year 1681.

When she was at the court, she had many requests to marry but her father, afraid that all the

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progress in art that she had made by her diligence might be frustrated by domestic activities if she were to marry, decided firmly to offer her to no one but a painter, so that she later married the excellent painter WILHELM BRECKVELT in Düsseldorf in the year 1684. But after the passing of three years, when she had 3 sons by him, he came to die in 1687, 29 years old. After she had been a widow for 11 years, she got married once more in Düsseldorf in the December of the year 1697 to the excellent painter Eglon van der Neer, counsellor and cabinet painter of Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm.

Finally we have to say to the fame of Spilberg that I saw a piece with life-sized figures by him depicting the arts of song and music, powerfully, boldly and commendably drawn and naturally painted [12], resembling Hendrick ter Brugghen in brush handling.

Now we bring some painters onstage of whom we do not rightly know their native city but who we guess belong to this time, such as JAN HACKAERT, whose place of birth I also do not know. Some say he is to have been born in Amsterdam.

We have by him many handsomely painted landscapes, especially foreign views of mountain caves and ingenious caverns, almost all of which he drew after life in Switzerland. It transpired that he was discovered by some mountain workers in such lonely and isolated corners and caves, occupied with sketching something. They, being unaware of what these scribbles and

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12
Johann Spilberg (II)
Concert, before 1650
canvas, oil paint 104 x 109 cm
lower left : SPILB[.....]
C.J. Wawra (Vienna) 1930-04-07, nr. 200


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sketches on paper signified, took them for magic markings and him for a sorcerer, and drove him away from there. But soon he was seen by them around another corner, and again scared off. This happened on various occasions. In the meantime this was circulated amongst this ignorant bunch; of which the first said he had seen him here, another there, imagining that he was certainly a sorcerer* (seeing that region is infected with superstition to this day) who had come to spook thereabouts. Thus they decided together that if they encountered him again, they would catch him and put him before the judge in the next town, as happened. It so happened, that as they brought him into the city, the chief bailiff (who knew Hackaert well) met them on the street. Seeing him thus gagged with cords,


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* Witchcraft. That this superstition, of which the Netherlands have been relieved for many years, especially because of the writings of Balthasar Bekker, still holds sway that that place, is apparent from this; that scarcely twenty years ago two female persons who were accused of sorcery came here from Germany to Oudewater (which had of olden days been granted that privilege) to have themselves weighed and went back to their country with a letter of exemption composed to that effect and signed with his own hand by the weigh master. The way this happens is thus. The accused one goes to a room separated for that purpose, were there is a scale, a weight of 10 pounds and a long white shift. Here they undress until stark naked and put on this shift or white cover over the head and thus tread with bare feet on the scales, with the counterweight placed opposite. I believe that this weighing never yielded a guilty person but that the old-time rulers of these lands (while they knew better) tried only to foil this superstition.

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and being able to speak good German, asked him for the reason, which he said not to know. Whereupon he asked those who had taken him prisoner, who gave him in answer that they suspected that he was a sorcerer, for such and such reasons, from which it became clear that their suspicion was groundless and that they had captured him innocently, as he indicated to them when he was released from his bonds. Later the chief bailiff could not restrain himself from laughing when he met or looked at him, remembering this silly incident.

Having returned to Holland, Hackaert often amused company with this farce. He was a close friend of Adriaen van de Velde, who supplied many of his best painted landscapes and drawings with figures and animals.

Such an incident as just recounted happened to the painters Theodoor Wilkens of Amsterdam and Hendrik Frans van Lint, landscape painter from Antwerp, in the year 1711. These two, accustomed to occupy themselves outside Rome with the drawing of ruined palaces, cliffs, mountains and inventive prospects; to amuse themselves with these excursions, had gone to Ronciglione, 42 Italian miles outside Rome, which they chose as model that side of the old city, which in ruin and precariously situated on a cliff, seemed picturesque to them.

The draughtsmen set themselves down at a suitable distance, with their portfolios and parasols over their heads against the penetrating sun. They were

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just busy indicating the first general lines of objects with dabs when they were espied by those nearby who went back and forth to the city from the nearby water basins that stood by the water, and spread an evil suspicion of theirs, whereupon a crowd of people soon showed up on the old and new fortifications, which grew in number without our draughtsmen being able to know or guess the meaning of this, as it happened out of curiosity (as any of the Romans rarely went so far as to draw). What happened? A house that stood close to the wall collapses and tips down from the rock with great noise, by which a miller's house that stood on the common road was also damaged. This increased their foolish notion, put into their bosom by the mentioned informers, that they were sorcerers who were trying to destroy their town with the strength of their magic letters. Upon this all the people, as if in one body, set off for them from the city, cursing and raging at them as if they wished to destroy their city by magic arts and conjurations and destroy the inhabitants, taking advantage of this unexpected collapse of the mentioned house, saying: That it was no wonder that it collapsed, seeing that the old walls could not resist the power of the devils prying in between the courses of the stones. And it was their salvation that Wilkens advised Van Lint, who wanted to make a run for it, against this, and it was their good fortune that the officers of the law who had exited the city amidst the crowd, clamped their hands on them,

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