Houbraken Translated

RKD STUDIES

Volume 3, page 250-259


Page 250

He then settled in Amsterdam, where many of his brushworks are spread out amongst lovers of art. In addition to history pieces and companies of damsels and dandies he also painted many small portraits, to which he had turned here and there, especially when he stayed in Frankfurt, where he found opportunity to paint many persons of importance, both foreigners and natives. One may therefore count him with the happy painters, and all the more because he is more content by nature than others and has learned by the right use of reason to undergo all disasters (which he encountered not without danger in Frankfurt) with a tranquil heart, as coming from the hand of the Lord, whose arbitrariness one must undergo without complaint to be able to say with the moralizing poet Dirk Rafaelsz. Camphuysen:

It is the fountain of goodness; It is well all that you do.

However, his diligence for art, even though he has reached an advanced age, is still with him, so that he daily practices it, by which he has extended a path to diligence to his daughter [= Margaretha Wulfraet] (who has already taken a great leap in art), whom we will bring onstage in her turn wreathed in deserved fame.

His portrait, derived from one he painted himself, is to be seen in Plate L.

How the passion for art finds itself spurred on when it sees others progress with large strides is evidenced by the artful horse and battle painter

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Page 251

JAN van HUCHTENBURG, born in Haarlem in the year 1646. He was a particularly good acquaintance of Jan Wyck, who was from the same city and neighbourhood and three years plus some months older than he. Through direction from his father [= Thomas Wijck] he was soon advanced in art and having the opportunity to see him paint every day, he was so greatly encouraged in his love of art that he first grasped the drawing pen and later the brush and advanced so happily in the art of painting that he decided to undertake a journey to Italy, which he undertook in the year 1667, all the more because he had a brother there named Jacob van Huchtenburg, who was a commendable painter of Roman prospects with animals, having studied art with Nicolaes Berchem. But he died in his 30th year. Having arrived in Paris he ended up by accident with the painter Adam Frans van der Meulen, under whom he further practiced and later painted on his own until late in the year 1670, when he returned to Holland, where he has made a great number of art works since that time that have made him famous.

In the year 1708 or 1709 he entered the service of Prince Eugen von Savoyen.

In the year 1711 he was given a gold medal and chain by Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector Palatine [= Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz].

That the passions of the heart as well as the inclination of the human spirit can be dampened but not entirely overcome has been confirmed by many world sages. We have already shown the reader this or that by examples.

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Page 252

Now the next subject serves to confirm the latter saying.

JACOB MOELAERT, born in Dordrecht in the year 1649, on the 15th of September. Having reached maturity he was driven by such an undeniable passion for the learning of painting that his parents were forced to let him continue in that ambition, so that they then placed his with the painter Nicolaes Maes, where he improved so greatly in a few years that he could make a good portrait. But through a certain incident he was torn away from there and sent to Amsterdam to tend to his uncle’s store, where he wasted many years in that slavish service until he came to marry. This did not relieve him of the burden of the store (because he continued with that profession) but he had his spare time free and at his disposition to spend on his art practice and art handling. And it is amazing how far he was still able to advance in his stolen hours.

It was ever his pleasure to gather the prints of all the famous masters. Through this his judgement ripened from time to time, and as he had tracked down so many commendable models, he more than once turned in hand to the depiction of important histories, as where Pharaoh and his people drown in the red sea, where Moses by striking his staff on the rock has a spring of water come forth to give Israel, almost perished from thirst, to drink, etc.

He now lives in Dordrecht, where he passes most of his time in his art cabinet, where each art book serves him as a garden of delight, filled with]

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Page 253

the best Italian, French and Dutch flowers of art.

JAN LUYKEN, born on 16 April of the year 1649, learned the art of painting with Martinus Saegmolen. One rarely sees his painting because he stopped painting early on (possibly because that did not yield enough profit) and turned to the etching of plates for the book sellers, which worked out marvellously for him. For through this he has added great embellishment to many handsome books, especially the Mosaïze historie der Hebreeuwse kerke by Willem Goeree and an innumerable number of other books. He was loose and undisciplined in the springtime of his life, and I mention this for no other reason than to demonstrate to my astonishment how he later changed his way of life through love of virtue and piety, yes so that he served as a remarkable example of charity with respect to poor and needy people.

Nor can we fail to mention that he not only exchanged the brush for the etching needle, but also for the pen, and wrote and put out in print a goodly number of handsome books decorated with pictures which concern the path to virtue, love of God, desire for the blessed life, as well as prints that concern moral duties in general and the duties of children with respect to their parents in particular. These are truly proof of a hallowed spirit, and an improved life, which is why he also began to buy up his small book, named DUYTSCHE LIER, which he had rhymed in his youth, full of infatuated poems and playful courting songs, from the book dealers

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even at a high price, to help these vanities out of the world and destroy them. Here is a sample from it:

A ray from Leonora's eyes,
still browner than a
diamond;
Ignited by a secret power
My youthful heart into bright fire
Blow it out, blow it out, oh Leonora!
Blow out the flame that consumes me;
A flame born of your face,
A Face that defies the sun and moon.

But he was scandalously deceived, for this book was reprinted in all silence and copies were brought to him 4, 6, 10 or 12 at a time by self-seeking people, of which he suspected nothing until he discovered he had collected more than he had printed, when he gave up the acquisition because his good intentions had been foiled by this perfidy. And it grieved him, seeing that honesty was banished so far away. So that Jeremias de Dekker found reason to say:

If scarcity makes the value of things rise,
Then an honest man is an undervalued commodity

But experience has taught how deceptive the imagination is, especially with respect to religion, even with respect to men of competent judgment and understanding.

In his spare time Jan Luyken practised in the books of Jakob Böhme and Antoinette Bourignon, and spoke and associated with almost no one

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Page 255

except those attached to the same zealotry. In addition he took his afternoon walks alone and was otherwise quietly at home, always with elevated thoughts, both impassioned and dreamy, so that he often seemed to be a simple assistant to those who came to speak to him about the making of some illustrations. To keep it short, the reading of the mentioned books brought him so far that he discharged himself from all work, and as he did much work for the book sellers Pieter Mortier I, Cornelis van der Sys and others, he cancelled their services, sold his property, keeping a small portion and giving the rest to the poor, and left to live quietly off his faith with his old maid, who survived him and later received some part of his inheritance. But he discovered in little time that his faith was not strong or powerful enough, and that his conceit was built on sand. As a consequence he was forced by necessity to return and to take up the etching needle once more to provide for his necessities by that means. The remainder he gave to the poor. So that when he came to die, his son's wife and small son, named after his grandfather, hardly bruised their fingers counting their inheritance. But what can I say? Money seemed too slight for him. They say that he left his son’s child a booklet with pasted prints supplemented by maxims and pious directions.

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Page 256

He died on 5 April of the year 1712 at the age of 63 years with the same convictions as the previously mentioned Böhme.

Van der Sys, who had great respect for him during his lifetime, had him drawn after death with the intention of having his features cut in copper (in remembrance for his descendents), as also happened [1] and to which I alluded in the laudatory poem that served to accompany the printed depiction:

This is the portrait of Luiken, for the man’s great
Intellect and findings drawn after his death.
He was
worldly and later most reserved.
In life and behaviour, a model of empathy
And ever demonstrated his charity for the poor,
So that his image deserves to be crowned with eternal praise.

The Theatre shows both the laudable deeds of the pious and the hateful acts of the godless so that the world may be reflected while imprinting a concept of what is good and revulsion of what is evil. We have also followed this path so that the white of the pure conscience might stand out all the more forcefully against the black of a damaged heart. A certain writer says quite rightly:

Thus ever flickers a diamond in the dark.
Thus one distinguishes a wolf-dog from a sheep.
Thus virtue shines with richer glow and lustre.

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1
Pieter Sluyter after Arnold Houbraken and after Arnold Boonen published by Cornelis van der Sys
Portrait of Jan Luyken (1649-1712) in an allegorical framework, 1712 or later
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-OB-59.518


Page 257

We have cleared a place among the painters for ROMEYN de HOOGHE, who sometimes handled the brush in addition to the etching needle, to appear onstage in his turn, although it is less his brushwork than his witty inventions and rich compositions that are to be praised.

Amongst his most important brushworks in oil paints are counted the painted room of the burgomasters in the townhall of Enkhuizen and, amongst many other works, a large sideroom in the country residence of Mister Mattheus van den Broucke at Dubbeldam, outside Dordrecht, where one sees depicted on canvas on the longest wall how Claudius Civilis, brother of Julius Paulus, the first Dutch noblemen, receives the most prominent heads of the tribes and the citizens for a meal in the Schakerbos, demonstrating with an ample address amidst this jollity how in olden times, counter to the treaty entered into with the Romans, they were oppressed and mistreated by their governors and captains and how the time seemed ripe (seeing that the Roman bands in this land had weakened and the remaining ones were too far away to prevent this plan) forever to rid themselves of this irksome yoke and thus lay the first stone for Dutch freedom, if they would swear him loyalty and assistance. The latter moment in particular is depicted as Cornelius Tacitus describes it in the 4th book of his Histories, commencing with the year 17 after Christ's birth. In addition the other sections of the same room are filled with representations of a similar kind.

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Page 258

In addition we can say from samples that he was a man outstanding in intellect and findings, and I don’t know his equal in facility in composition and wealth of changes in the art of etching, to which the endless number of book titles and other prints testify. But with respect to his behaviour and way of life, he was a nasty lad and a second Pietro Aretino. Yes it is to be lamented that a man of such great intellect should go so terribly astray that he does not wish to heed or know what is most worthy, but on the contrary will mock it even though he notices that the thread of his life begins to shrink, acting like Anakreon. He (so reads the translated Greek text on page 151 of De Mooyeriana) when he was told: Take the mirror and see how you have no hairs and how bald your forehead is, replied: I know nothing about that, whether I have hairs or if they have disappeared. But this I know, that it is fitting that the more closely an old man he nears death, the more easily he can belch.

Such and similar contaminated pearls (which the reader will encounter again) add little lustre to the crown of painting. But what shall I say? The dreadful thistles have early intermingled with the good plants in the field in the springtime of this world, and given grief to the farmer.

He left Amsterdam, but it had to be because of his irritating behaviour and the making of barbed pasquinades and immoral and scandalous print depictions, which filth he sold to the loose youth for good money.

If you encounter such despicable ways of living

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Page 259

then you must know that they do not serve as examples to follow, but to have everyone, and particularly painting youths to have fear and revulsion for them. Our preachers have the same goal when from their pulpits they paint the vices with black chalk to have the virtues contrast all the cleaner and to make the commendable and exemplar behaviour more likable. Allow me the freedom, reader, to use a small digression to warn painting youths against repulsive behaviour and filthy examples, more perilous reefs than Scilla and Charibdis, where honesty and a good name (the greatest credit to a man) can suffer shipwreck, so that they learn to avoid them carefully, reflect on the final consequences that proceed from them, and develop revulsion. Florent le Comte gives occasion for this when, speaking about Annibale Carracci and Giulio Romano, expresses himself thus (translated into Dutch):

About ANNIBALE CARRACCI, to say something about this great man and give a complete conception of his competence, one must know that the art of painting as it has currently improved is especially indebted to him because it is to this outstanding spirit that the restoration of art, which had fallen into decline, must be attributed, seeing that he discovered correct natural colouration and, while keeping the power of the pigments, was able to combine them and by a soft flattering unite the hard antiquated way of painting with the softness of nature, trying always to combine a conception of

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