Houbraken Translated

RKD STUDIES

Volume 3, page 320-329


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As soon as the Y stream saw this great and wise heart,
For she is Apollo’s support and fame of Luke’s
troupe.

Whether JACOB van OOLEN was born in Amsterdam I do not know, but he always lived there from his youth on, which had begun in the year 1651. Until his death in the year 1698 he had his brush so much under control that he was able to imitate all ways of painting, especially the bird pieces of Melchior d’Hondecoeter, which he was able to follow so closely that the best connoisseurs were often at a loss when their opinion was asked.

Our Van Oollen did not do badly by that artifice since the art of d’Hondecoeter sold well during his lifetime. But to do this during Melchior’s lifetime was a nail in his coffin, because so many painted roosters and chicken came into the world that a reduction in price was to be feared. Be that is it may. Melchior had two evils, one inside and one outside his home, and it is therefore not surprising that he sometimes rinsed the pressure from his heart with revitalizing moisture.

ABRAHAM STORCK, from Amsterdam, painted smooth and placid sea pieces, ships and piers full of bustle of figures, and also transport boats loaded with soldiers and crew members with chests and caged goods, to transport them to the sea ships at anchor, which bustle he was able to depict amusingly and naturally. Especially famed was the depiction of the landing of the Duke of Marlborough on the Amstel amidst a

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great bustle of inland waterway yachts. He also had a brother [= Jacobus Storck] who painted Rhine prospects and inland water ships, but not as artfully.

DAVID COLIJNS, born in Amsterdam, mostly painted Biblical histories, and especially such that require a great crowd of figures, as when Israel gathers the manna, or when Moses quenches the thirst of the Hebrews with water from the rock, etc.

BARENT GAEL of Haarlem was a student of Philips Wouwerman, whose manner of painting he was able to imitate quite well. His brushwork further consists mainly of battles and roadhouses. He was usually a little stubborn in his behaviour and nurtured that failing to his disadvantage.

It happened that a gentleman with some work in progress came to visit him to see it, when he just happened not to feel like it. He therefore ordered him to be told that he was not at home, and that so loud that the gentleman heard, who therefore decided to pay him back with the same coinage. With the piece finished, he went to the gentleman for whom he had painted it, but hearing him knock, he stuck his head out of the window and called out to him: I am not at home. When he said, I see that you are at home, it was of no help because he got as answer, you see that I am at home. When I last came to your house I heard that you were at home, but had to leave. So that he finally had to resign himself to departing with his piece.

ISAAC KOENE, landscape painter and disciple of Isaack van Ruisdael, made landscapes and Gaal the figures, together making many pieces

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for the Amsterdam Vos [= Hendrik de Vos?].

With them having played their role

PIETER van der HULST, born in Dordrecht on the 18th of February of the year 1652, comes on stage. He got wanderlust into his head and arrived in Rome on 24 December 1674, where the bentvogels got hold of him and for his money baptized him with the nickname or bent name of Sun Flower, possibly because he so often used them in his pieces, because he turned to the painting of a wilder kind of flowers than Daniël Seghers, Jan Davidsz. de Heem and others have done. He also added to his flowers all sorts of wild herbs, snakes, toads, lizards and that kind of animals. He later turned to portrait painting, with which he garnered much less fame.

The painter [PIETER] PEUTEMANS (I have forgotten his first name) was born in Rotterdam from a distinguished family. I do not know with whom he learned art, but he painted all kinds of still life and also carved boards formed in the fashion of standing figures, one of which depicts a Swiss soldier who stands on guard in his entryway. His cousin, who was a member of the city council of Rotterdam, requested that he paint a scene in which the transience of human life would be shown by impressive images. And so that he would be able to avail himself of all sorts of objects, he gave him the key to the dissection room, where he went alone one afternoon after eating to do a sketch of this, that, or the other that might be of use to him in his piece,

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but due to the rising vapours from his full stomach he dozed off and, finally, surrounded by this silent company, fell into a deep sleep. This was on the 18th of September 1692, when that earthquake took place that made the whole country shake. Awakened by the movement and rattling of the dead bones, he looked astonished with grave eyes in all directions, and seeing that all the skeletons shook their heads like wax dolls and the skulls their teeth, and arms and legs swung back and forth, he imagined nothing else at that moment but that the skeletons were all at once setting themselves in motion to attack him. Thus he fled in all haste from the room and into the street, painted ash-white by fright. Having calmed down a little, he soon discovered the cause of the strange movement of those dead bones. But to what avail? The fright had so thoroughly entered his blood that he died shortly thereafter.

JAN ClAESZ. RIETSCHOOF was born in the year 1652. Inclined to art from his youth on, he first became a student of Abraham Liedts and later of the famous sea and ship painter Ludolf Bakhuizen, whose handling he kept, so that he may be counted amongst the commendable painters of sea and ship painting. However, he is defensive about his art and of a pious disposition.

His son, HENDRIK RIETSCHOOF, born in the year 1678, follows on the path of his father and is no less than he in flower painting.

CORNELIS HOLSTEYN was born in Haarlem in the year 1653. Whether he studied art only

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with his father, Pieter Holstein I, who was a glass painter and drew a lot in water paints, or with someone else, I don’t know. But I do know that he was a great master in art. Amongst many paintings I have seen one by him depicting the triumph of Bacchus. In this work there appeared several nude women and cherubs, so wonderfully naturally and skilfully painted that the price that was paid for it did not remotely match its value. But what shall I say? He who has a reputation for getting up early may (as the saying goes) sleep in.

In the chamber of orphans of the city hall of Amsterdam a skilfully painted work by him stands in front of the chimney, depicting the Roman [sic] Lycurgus as he designates his nephew as his legal heir [1].

The poet Jan Vos dedicated the following verse to it.

Lycurgus takes his nephew as lawful heir to the land.
Aid from the guardians provides the orphan with a voice, and influence.
Here one learns how
self-interest grants the orphan his right of succession.
Thus, the father's cause survives the death of his body
.

And in the Thesaurien ordinaries one sees the ceiling graced with the art of his brush from below.

He also practiced glass painting, but not as much as his father, seeing that that fashion declined with time. He came to die in a hurry on the 19th of July 1663, between

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1
Cornelis Holsteyn
Lycurgus, king of Sparta, relinquishes his right to the throne to adopt his nephew Charilaus, ca. 1658
canvas 171,5 x 187 cm
Amsterdam, Koninklijk Paleis (Paleis op de Dam)


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two or three in the afternoon, having taken a purgatory to end the pain in his heart, for he had no other sickness, and had sat on his front steps only a little earlier, with his wife having the beaker home from the herb mixer. And having been away for only fifteen minutes, she found her husband lying dead on the floor in the entryway. They did not accuse the herb mixer, for such things can happen from a heart attack, but some neighbours, who knew the fairytale of Nicocles, told others that they knew in this case that he was an irascibly ignorant healer who boasted about the power of his powders, and mocked him saying: Sure I value your art because you do not leave people lying around in misery for long, but quickly free them so that they feel no more pain. It went as it went, such stories brought the apothecary little advantage, as little as the advice of Bartolomeo Eustachi in his dissections of contrivance, where he says: Let the cook be your physician and the meat hall your apothecary’s store.

I have been told that the famous Cavalier, who for some years led the troops in the Cevennes by his intelligent strategy and his bravery, was in a coffee house and an ensign of the German troops, wanting to see him, came to speak to him there. After some general exchanges the German asked him if he was that Cavalier of whom there was so much talk? Whereupon he answered yes. Are you then (continued the German) that baker's son? Yes answered Cavalier? But now a Colonel in rank; and continued: May I have the honour of learning who you are dear Sir? At which he gave his name,

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at once mentioning that his grandfather had been a general, his father a captain, and he an ensign. The Cavalier, reflecting a little, then said: How now, dear Sir; your grandfather a general, your father a captain, and you an ensign; that is really going downhill, and if things carry on this way, your son may yet become a baker's helper. The noble German, feeling the jab, stole away. Thus it went with the following painter

SIMON van der DOES had for his great-grandfather a confidential clerk of the city of Amsterdam and as grandfather a secretary of the insurance room, as we have just observed in the biography of his father Jacob van der Does, but fallen on hard times he provided his family with an emblem of a setting sun.

He was born in 1653 and practiced with the same preference and way of painting as his father, and he lived in The Hague with his mom.

To take a test of how far he could strike out on his own wings, he first went to live in Friesland for a while, later in England, but remained there only a year. It seems that the food did not taste any better than in his mother’s kitchen. He was thirty-six years old when he married. He was old enough to marry but too young to bear the tribulations that went with it, for he had made a bad choice. Who can foresee everything? Nothing proceeds from our imagination to reality without loss said Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle in the Samenspraken der dooden. She was exceptionally wasteful and everything he could scrape together with his brush was quickly ground to chaff on the mill of carelessness, so that he had to practice art under duress

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and rarely made anything or it was eaten bread.

Added to this Mister De Graaf, who was of his family and would have done much for him for his father’s sake, withdrew from him because of this marriage and (as the proverb goes) let him float. Jan van Gool, who was then his student, has told me to my amazement how despite all worries and heartaches he could paint as diligently as always. But all this effort brought him no advantage since he withdrew from the company of people and therefore lost the opportunity to paint the odd portrait, which yielded greater profit than animal painting. There are still several portraits of his around that entirely resemble the old Netscher in handling.

With his wife dying he found himself in a bad state so that at the recommendation of good friends he obtained a place in the hospital for the poor behind the Hall in The Hague. But after he had been there for two or three years he went to Brussels and on to Antwerp, where he painted for the cutthroats.

Mister De Graaf, oft mentioned, thought to repair the decline in the family via Simon’s younger brother Jacob van der Does II, and finding him inclined to art, placed him with Karel du Jardin, the great friend of his deceased father and his former guardian, where he remained until Karel developed an unexpected whim to see Rome before his death. He then went to Caspar Netscher and after the passing

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of two years to Gerard de Lairesse in Amsterdam. Later, practicing art on his own, he gave proof of his great spirit and evidence of what was to be expected from him. He was bold in his enterprises and ready to undertake great things in art but at the same time unusually irascible and hasty, so that once (which was told to me as truth) he had painted three or four weeks on end and when it did not satisfy him took a knife (not withstanding that his brother, who stood behind him, tried to prevent this) and cut the canvas to ribbons. He undertook this work once more, succeeded and presented it to Mister de Graaf, who accepted it gratefully, gave him a horse, provided him with a fat gold purse and sent him to Paris in style with Mister van Heemskerk [= Coenraad van Heemskerck] (when he went to France as ambassador of the States General), where he would have found his fortune had not death torn him from this life after a year has passed, thus foiling all hopes. Now follow two brothers

THEODOR and CHRISTOFFEL LUBIENIECKI, of which the first was born in Cracow in the year 1653 and the other in Stettin in 1659. They had both practiced the arts of drawing and painting as amusement with Johann Georg Stuhr of Hamburg in addition to other laudable practices fit for youngsters of noble birth.

In August of the year 1675 they came to Amsterdam. Christoffel first went to Adriaen Backer to continue the practice of art,

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but Theodoor ended up with the famous Gerard de Lairesse, whose way of handling he observed so well that it shone through everywhere in his artful brushworks. After a few years had passed he was summoned by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In the year 1683 he left for Hanover. From there he arrived at the court of Brandenburg, where he became first chamberlain and supervisor of the academy. Finally, in the year 1706, he travelled to Poland, where he died.

Christoffel Lubieniecki still lives in Amsterdam, where he pursues art with praise, both with histories and portraits.

At this time art flowered in the Netherlands and especially in Amsterdam. Peace stood at the door and was to bind Bellona, enemy of the arts. The sun, first obscured by a rising sulphur fog, began to show a happier face and the merchantman itched to safely ply the seas. Now one saw the city dwellers create a new love or art, and one after another showed himself a Maecenas, in which Mister Joan Huydecoper van Maarseveen, Knight of St. Michael, preceded everyone. Art lovers and artists now extended each other heart and hand in unity (and it were to be wished that envy and selfishness had not broken this bond). This became clear to me from certain verses, the one On the unification of Apelles and Apollo Etc. 1653. The other has as title Brotherhood of the Art of Painting, initiated by painters, sculptors and their benefactors on the 21st of October in Amsterdam. On the next page

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