Houbraken Translated

RKD STUDIES

Volume 3, page 240-249


Page 240

by Mister van Zuilen in Utrecht and also later in The Hague and Amsterdam. This resulted from De With's deficiency in composition, for which Hoet then gave him sketches that were painted and drawings of which he made use. After some time Hoet went to France where, already being there, he was summoned by a letter from a certain marquess, because people had convinced him that Hoet was still in Holland or in Utrecht. He spoke to this marquess several times, but it still came to naught, as he was prevented by insolvency, and his wife, from taking Hoet into his home in accord with his promises. Finally the marquess wished to recommend him to the Prince of Conti [= Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé], which was also fruitless, because the Prince came to the house of the marquess too late to be shown the art of Hoet. Due to the interruption by the marquess it had become too late in the year to leave Paris, which is why Hoet agreed to etch several landscapes, which technique he did not understand thoroughly, after paintings by Francisque Millet I. After that Hoet decided to cross over to England. He therefore wrote an advance letter to Johannes Vorstermans to find out how things stood with art over there and got as answer that he would himself come to France if he had his money from the English court. Hoet therefore left Paris, after a stay of more than a year, intending to see if there was anything doing in Antwerp. But having come to Brussels, he was advised by the outstanding landscape painter Adriaen Frans Boudewijns to remain there a while, since things were good for art there, or better than in Antwerp. Which

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he did, and things turned out much for the better because some things of his had already come from Utrecht and into the hands of the amateurs. He remained there around eight months and with approaching winter returned to Zaltbommel, where he had hardly arrived when he was again summoned to Utrecht by Mister van Zuilen, who would have liked to require him to remain in the Bishopric. But he returned to Brussels the following summer, where shortly thereafter everything was again disrupted. Returning to Utrecht, he painted some things for Mister van Heemstede, and shortly thereafter married his current wife and settled down there.

In the year 1697, for the advancement of art, Hoet as well as Hendrik Schoock had asked the magistrates of the city, in the name of the painters’ guild, to be allowed to establish a so-called Academy or Drawing School at the city's expense. Hoet as well as Adolf Reets made a poem on that occasion, to draw attention to the undertaking. But the burden of this drawing school fell upon Hoet alone, and he carried it for several years out of love of art. As far as the paintings that he made, they may be found at Slangenburg Castle, amongst which are some things that connoisseurs might criticize because he could not dissuade that gentleman, who was somewhat obstinate, from his ideas. He also painted in Voorst, in the great stairwell of the house of the Arnold van Keppel, est Earl of Albemarle some things that had been left incomplete by others. There is a ceiling painted by him with Mister court clerk Pester in Utrecht, and also one with Mister Noirot. As far as the little things are concerned, they are hardly to be

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identified because they often change owners. He also painted a room of Mister David van Mollem in Utrecht outside the Weerdpoort. He was not able to praise the generosity of that gentleman enough, because over and above what he had demanded he received a sum of money from him.

One sees the illustration of Mister Hoet in Plate K, drawn after a painting that was made of him four years ago.

JOHANNES BRONCKHORST was born in Leiden in the year 1648. Being thirteen years old when he lost his father too soon, his mother placed him with a cousin of hers, who was a pastry cook (a business that was very profitable at that time, and which was busy, either because there were more sweet teeth or because the times were better than now) to learn that as his profession and for his keep. In the meantime he always felt a smouldering flame of art in his bosom, which did not catch fire until the year 1670, when he settled in Hoorn and married. Then the smouldering fire began to catch; that is, his passion for art blazed so strongly that it was not to be stopped. Nor was it necessary. Seeing he could do the one without giving up the other, he practised diligently in his spare time and got so far without any instruction that he may be counted amongst the most outstanding painters in water colours. He is still alive, and practises art for his amusement and pastry baking as his life's profession. It is a profession that can be paired with art because they are delicacies,

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one to please the palate and the other to please the eye.

What subjects he intended to follow in his art and how far he was able to imitate their nature was shown by the commendable preacher and top poet Joannes Vollenhove in a poem that he made upon seeing a book with samples of Johannes’ drawing and painting. It begins thus:

Nequeunt expleri corda Tuendo.

How lives and floats your Book on Painting
Oh Bronckhorst, still in my thoughts!
Whose eye could on panel or canvas,
Expect more perfect art of painting,
Than that by which one knows your intellect,
On your paper or parchment?

My spirit grazes in a meadow with lust,
Crowded and alive with tame animals,
And birds who created as if
Averse to rest, sway about back and forth
So beautifully clad, as Solomon
Could not equal in all his splendour.

Who does not
call out; This is no illusion, oh no:
Naturally the birds live here.
The claws grip what they walk on:
The
speed of the birds announces itself:
Had not the art
brush forgotten a tongue
One would hear how the birds sang.

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And what change, precisely made
What
smart eye could it ever bore?
What diligence has gathered this
From all four
corners of the earth?
For never produced a land
or sky
Such a
variety of birds in flight.

Does anyone
think to smother
This soft art work with oil paints?
These water paints which never die,
Surpass the power of oil paints.
Nor would a master’s lesson help here:
Nature alone was the teacher.

Nature keeps nothing beautiful that sheij
Came to bring
to light from perishing:
But Bronckhorst, bold of spirit, as he
Thus follows nature with drawings and paints
Deserves, despite death
To live on after his lifetime.

It was not workable for us to track down the precise times of birth of all painters, which is why we have placed

ABRAHAM DIEPRAAM before his student Mathijs Wulfraet.

His first teacher of art was the father [= Willem Jansz. van der Stoop] of the commendable horse painter Dirk Stoop, who was a renowned glass painter. After that he ended up in Rotterdam with Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh, and finally, after he had taken a journey through France, with Adriaen Brouwer, whose way of painting and composing he followed so that

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his brushwork greatly resembles that of Brouwer. But in his way of life he was not only his equal but surpassed the bestiality of his master.

He came to the St. Luke’s company in Dordrecht in the year 1648.

I knew him in the year 1674, when he lodged with Johannes Warnier, a silversmith, at which time his pieces were sought after and sold for a good price. It happened around that time that he boasted about his art to company in an inn (where he spent more time than in the church) that his small pieces were sold as soon as he had made them. One of the company, spurred on by this to also want to own something of his art, bought a small piece of painting (of which he indicated what it depicted) from him, with the condition that his wife had to see it first, and please her. She came the following day with her husband to see the work, which did indeed please her. But she offered ten guilders less for it than her husband had allowed, saying that it was but a tiny panel. This made him so angry that he took the mentioned piece and smashed it to pieces on the finial of a chair and threw the pieces at the head of the woman (who, frightened by his swearing and cursing, did not know how to get down the stairs fast enough). But I have seen him in later days with a palette with paint on his hand, going from door to door fishing for work, so poor and decrepit that his shirt showed through the holes in his trousers.

It is conceivable that (had he maintained a decent way of life and continued his work with diligence)

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he would have become a great master in that way of painting, for I have seen things by him from before he took to the bottle, that were so beautifully painted and so inventive in thought as if they had been painted by Brouwer. But just as one sees with many that art grows with the intellect and the years and becomes greater, so, on the contrary, his art became ever worse, so that I have seen pieces by him in which the brush strokes are not even blended. What am I saying, blended? The brush strokes don't even touch each other.

You may easily object, reader, that there are such works by Frans Hals, and he is still held to be a good painter. I answer that the handling of Frans Hals has nothing in common with that of Diepraam. Because the first revealed his intellect, the latter his decline. The first did it that way deliberately and to show that he was master of his brush, the latter because he could not do otherwise because his hands shook through drinking too much brandy. Yes, it now comes to mind that Cornelis van Persijn, then an art dealer in Dordrecht, told me that out of pity he had taken Diepraam into his home to paint for him and that he had to have a pint of brandy in his stomach before the afternoon before he could commence anything, and then for the rest of the day a flask on his easel, from which he sipped constantly, or else he could not paint. He sometimes painted with his drunken cronies, a greedy swine, but never could

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Such a subject serve him as a mirror,
To generate revulsion in him.

I have been told that he died in the poorhouse of Rotterdam. That fate also befell his contemporary and fellow artist HENDRICK BOGAERT of Amsterdam, but he accommodated himself to it in advance. For as some of his friends often wished to advise him for the better, they said to him: Bogaert, you should consider that you become a day older every day and ought to be concerned about the old or sickly day, he snapped at them: Has the poorhouse been made for pigs? It was thus with respect to him. We have deliberately placed him with the preceding artist to make for a team, so that the smell of the brandy of the first might dispel the dirty smell of the gags of the latter.

The commendable plate etcher JOSEPH MULDER learned drawing with him in the year 1672, and he has told me that he once wished to visit one of his good acquaintances but found him not at home. But he did find his housewife, who was prepared to call her husband, who was not far away. He, in the meanwhile, being alone with the child who was still young and lay crying in the cradle, pulled some faces for it and not being able to silence it in that way, took it from the cradle and placed it on his lap, singing the tune of the Bold Knight, or Hanselyn rode over the heath, as people are wont to chant such old chestnuts for children while rocking them back and forth. With the diaper sagging down by the shaking, he was more than a little dirtied. What does he do? He lays the child down on the floor, lowers his trousers,

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and befouls it in turn. The wife, having come back in the meantime, asks with astonishment, what are you doing? What I do, he answered: the child has beshat me, and I beshit it in return, thus we are beshitting each other. But this was merely monkey see, monkey do. Adriaen Brouwer was the first to play such a dirty joke.

I have observed that in that time and earlier, the committing of unseemly acts, and in particular the excessive swilling of wine, became just the thing amongst painters even while it declined as a fashion. But I have also observed that it has been diminishing for some time, so that one can say to the credit of artists that there is now almost no one of name to be counted among the painters who is a drunkard. A certain poet said:

The care of parents sees to it that children learn something,
But it does not rarely happen that their
desires turn elsewhere,
Than to what they thought was useful and serviceable.
The
inclination of nature quickly reveals itself, as soon as
The understanding learns to distinguish the nature of things in their kind.

Among these was also MATHIJS WULFRAET, born in Arnhem on new-year’s night beween 12 and 1 o’clock in the year 1648. His father, who came from Germany and was accomplished in languages and medicine, wished to train his son for such activities as well. He therefore placed him in the Latin School. He who had more inclination to drawing (though he had never observed it being done)

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pursued the latter, but to the exclusion or neglect of the Latin. That is why he was threatened with the paddle and punished as well. But it did not help, because he quietly used his pocket money to buy prints, drawings and drawing equipment to fulfil his passion.

The fire of passion furthered,
Through inclination of nature,
Is like a roaring blaze,
Difficult to extinguish.

What drove him all the more in his passion and made the flames fly even higher was that he became acquainted with Abraham Diepraam (of whom we have spoken), who stayed in Arnhem for some time. Seeing the youth's passion and drawings, which were well-handled without his having learned the basics of art, he showed him his favour by teaching him some general rules of art. From that time on he no longer wanted to go to the Latin School, so that his father finally (although against his will) had to set him, who had already struggled through three schools, to the learning of art and, with the pleading of friends, placed him with said Abraham Diepraam, who was an excellent master in art and was a great success in Arnhem (where the best of his works are).

Through the instruction of Diepraam he came so far in little time that he no longer needed to keep on practicing after life, which was fine by him.

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