Houbraken Translated


Volume 3, page 330-339

Page 330

stand the heads of the founders, such as Marten Kretzer, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Nicolaes van Helt Stockade, Jan Meures, and this verse is dedicated to mentioned Mister Maarseveen in the name of all by Thomas Asselijn.

This St. Luke’s feast was held in the great hall of the St. George militia hall, which was decorated with festoons which alluded to this society.

On the festoon of the painter’s equipment, depicting the unity of their brotherhood, one read this:

Thus the unity of art and companions in art,
Are bound in one like this painting,
So love
binds them as brothers in general,
Because unity and peace are sealed with that bond.

On the festoon with musical equipment, dedicated to Apollo, one found these verses.

The goddess of art, attached to noble poetry,
Seemed to rise to the heavens with Apollo’s lyre.
Two arts close in nature united in company
Apollo loves the brush, Apelles song and strings.

In addition they had for themselves and the guests (who together, whether painters, poets or lovers of poetry and painting, were about 100 in number) a rule or table law was set up which in a manner of address to the invitees begins thus:


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Connoisseurs, artists who in the archer’s room
Stand with others ready to hold the afternoon meal:
Drunken drinking is avoided on this day:
Who has carried out three toasts with uncovered head may
Should more be demanded of him, put them down:
They will not stop those with desire for more,
As long as no excess occurs at the table

Joost van den Vondel was not only invited to this feast like others but also placed at the head of the table in a great seat and had a laurel wreath placed on the head by someone representing Apollo, as Geerardt Brandt adduces it in his biography, behind the 2nd part of his poetry. The grey father further crowned the feast with the following poem.

Just as the sunflower turns her eyes
Out of love to heaven’s vaults,
And follows with her face
The all refreshing light,
The sun, which gives
everything its paints
And which sustains trees and plants;
So the art of painting follows,
From inborn favour,
The lighting of a holy fire,
The beauty of nature,
With her strokes and brushes:
Gives dead canvasses and panels


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Life, where she floats and flourishes,
Refreshes men and animals,
Oh noble
lover of painting
Oh tenth of muses,
approach with you the other nine
Parnassus goddesses:
Tired neither
by singing nor playing;
Receive this crown: you deserve it.

This was answered with the following sonnet.

When the great light appeared at the feast of artists,
Everyone was gladdened and so satisfied and happy,
That whoever saw the father, set off
with poetry,
Now that the goddess of art would here pair with Apollo.
While the priesthood
with song and play of strings,
Greeted the sun: oh phoenix of our land!
Who has the entire Helikon listen to your
And dedicates to god Jupiter a crown of grey hairs,
Which are
persistently encircled with holy laurel leaves.
What offering will we burn for you for
this benefaction?
He who is thankful for favour has
fulfilled the favour
Because gratitude is more than a thousand sacrifices,
The father is satisfied now that St. Luke here
Gives you Apelles’ shield, Apollo his laurels.

Everyone became jolly and enjoyed this feast. The glasses clinked all around and the spirits, cheered up by Bacchus’ grape juice, seemed transplanted to Pindus’ hill. Thus


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they sang all cares farewell and chanted clearly.

Let Rome brag about her art and antiquity,
And Tivoli about all
its great waterfalls,
And Naples about the
grave of Maro and her fortune
The exchange is here, and the money, and the love of Art

Before they separated, they decided upon an annual renewal on St. Luke's day and to this end had a commemorative shield made (very likely the old Roman custom of promissory shields came to mind, on which was depicted a broken and an erect commemorative obelisk, bannered with the inscription renewed by love. But this plan was foiled by envy, and the commemorative shield by time, just as the Roman shields are buried in oblivion.

JAN HOOGSAAT, born in Amsterdam


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on 12 March 1654, is one of the best students of Gerard de Lairesse. He is no less artful in painting large figures than small ones, where he most shines. He painted a lot in the palace of ‘t Loo for William King of England. He also made pieces for the eminent Misters burgomasters of this city, Jan Trip, Abraham Velters, and Jan Six, and also for Mister alderman Van Aalst and other great gentlemen. Also painted by him is the surface of the vault of the main reception room of the Amsterdam city hall [1]. But the maker did not pay close attention to how the figures become smaller to the eye with such great distances, which is why one can hardly see them individually. But the description of the contents of the work is included as a service to strangers on page 427 of the Guidebook to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, one of the most beautiful cities on which the sun shines, is here formally dressed on airy clouds, marvellously elevated Etc. She carries in her lap a bundle axe wrapped in green laurels to show both her flowering and unified government. She leans on a graceful ship’s prow, which also (hung with the later cross shield) announces her famous shipping, which is why the sea lord Neptune presents her with the crown of prows. While Mercury honours her with the gilded staff of commerce and Cybele, Goddess of the earth opens the entire world to the conduct of her commerce by the offer of her keys. The


and Jan Hoogsaat Gerrit Rademaker
Allegory of the town council of Amsterdam, 1705
Amsterdam, Koninklijk Paleis (Paleis op de Dam)

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weaponry that lies next to her means that she knows and can defend her freedom and esteem. Everything flows to her from all sides from a horn of plenty. The Roman imperial eagle elevates itself above her head, with the imperial crown once given to her by Maximilian. Fame seems to trumpet these outstanding merits all over the world, while Amsterdam with time is able to raise itself up even higher with the aid of understanding and diligence. In the distance of the clouds one sees the noble arts and sciences represented by cherubs who accompany the others in activities. Hercules (emblematic of Virtue and Bravery) is in action on the other side with his club to drive Envy and other slanderous creatures and harpies to flight to free Amsterdam from this destructive monster.

On page 218 of his 3rd book Franciscus Junius tells a remarkable history of Alcamenes and Phidias. These two artists, charged by the Athenians to each make a statue of the goddess Diana, which were to be placed on high pedestals in their city. At the same time they spread it about (so that each artist would do his best) that a great sum of money would be paid to he who would make the best statue. Upon this the two artists got eagerly to work. Alcamenes had made his statue first and was pleased that, seen up close, it was praised. Finally Phidias also revealed his statue, which no one among the Athenians liked from up close. They instead slandered


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its maker, not wanting such a grotesque statue (so it looked to hem) in their city, so far that a riot ensued and the common people wished to stone him.

Phidias, who understood geometry and optics, had made his statue courser and plumper in part than people were used to seeing, so as to allow for the greater distance when it would stand on its elevated place. He requested only that they would hold up their excitement and judgment until it would be placed. Then they changed, because that precision and softness that they observed in the statue of Alcamenes when it stood on the ground, was changed by the higher distance into hideousness, whereas the course hardness of Phidias’s sculpture changed to a caressing softness and kept its greatness and distinction at that distance.

We have shown with many examples how many by association with painters and through daily reflection on art works were spurred on to that invaluable practice. But that natural passion may also achieve this without such reasons, we see confirmed by the commendable portrait painter JOHANNES VOLLEVENS.

Geertruidenberg, within which enclosing wall he was born in the year 1654, had no practitioners of art for a long time before or after who could have given him any stimulus. Nevertheless his passion was so greatly inclined to that practice that he did nothing from his youth other than sketch in charcoal and chalks everything that came before his eyes. Which is why his parents (seeing his


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unbending passion for art) placed him with the famous portrait painter Caspar Netscher and later with Nicolaes Maes, and finally with Jan de Baen in The Hague, where he has since then continued to live and render a multitude of portraits that are well painted and full of life. He also nurtured a son in the practice, who is still alive like his father.

Coming and going is the fate of mankind. The year 1654, which saw painters blossom full of life, also saw Fabritius’ life end through a pitiful accident.

Those who are born for misfortune (goes the saying) will not evade it.

CAREL FABRITIUS, an outstanding painter of perspectives, renowned as the best of his time, was also a good portrait painter. Where he was born, and when, remain obscure. But it is known that he lived for many years in Delft and that his name is mentioned in the city eulogy for the 12th of October of the year 1654 in connection with the explosion of the powder magazine, along with the names of his mother-in-law and brother, as well as Simon Decker, Sexton of the old church, whom he was in the process of painting, and Mathias Spoors, his disciple, who were all tragically crushed and killed under the rubble of the collapsing house. Only with Fabritius were there still some signs of life when, after 6 or 7 hours had passed, he was pulled out of the rubble that had descended on him along with the others and was brought into the inn because most of the houses of doctors had also collapsed, where after a quarter of an hour his distressed soul departed from his


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wretchedly bruised body. And so (he was only thirty years old) that bright sun, while only barely risen, most unexpectedly set.

Arnold Bon composed an elegy about this sad accident.

Thus bruised, flattened and broken,
Of arms and legs that were unrecognizable,
Lay Karel Faber almost choked in the ashes
By the
fatal powder; who knows how it was lit?
weary soul shed of all power,
Could still be saved from this fearful death.
But all-destructive and pitiless death,
Bit off the thread of his life.
Thus descended the greatest artist
That Delft or Holland ever had.
The greatest loss of this
commendable city
warmed again, but not to be brought back.
Who does not mourn over his crushed legs,
Who has ever loved the art goddess Pictura?
He was her favoured child,
And sucked the greatest
secrets from her breast and nipples.
Thus you encountered him, oh death,
so shrewldly about
with his distinguished brush,
Brought the likeness naturally
to the panel
Which was so like as one egg to another.
Did Decker also need to die with him?
As if envy still wished to envy him,
That everyone’s eye would
later say,
It is not a canvas, it is
real life.
Did you also
have to trifle with the spirit of Faber
Mattias Spoors, oh fleet youngster,
(Who daily
inquisitive clung to him,)
To thus roll art out of the world?


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But has this sad tragedy of Fabritius moved you to pity, reader, when you saw him crushed under the rubble, the display of the joyful feast of the brothers of St. Luke, honoured by the presence of their greatest Maecenas and the chief of the Amsterdam mount of song, who while drinking glasses full of Bacchus’ moisture, sang out Evoe with joyful throats through the spacious room (as we mentioned above) it will change your mood.

Now we arrive at JAN VAN BUNNICK. He was born in Utrecht in the year 1654. In 1668, after his parents discerned that he was particularly inclined to the art of painting, he was placed with the famous Herman Saftleven, with whom he progressed so far in art in three years that he dared venture on his own wings, which he brought to its conclusion with great credit. Just as young birds first flap their wings above the nest, then take a short flight before they venture far from home, so also did our Van Bunnick, who first tested his abilities in art with his parents, then took a short flight to the land of Cleves, which succeeded well. Returned home, he undertook once more to join the painter Gerard Hoet before setting course for Rome. How addicted he was to travel by nature appears from the list that he himself presented to me of all the places where he left samples of his art, by which he will be remembered for centuries.

In Rees he got an opportunity to paint for the


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