Houbraken Translated

RKD STUDIES

Volume 3, page 100-109


Page 100

Mons in Hainaut and so on to Mariemont. There he drew the castle in three views, and arrived in Antwerp after eleven days. This was in the year 1669 or 70. And after he had visited his friends and colleagues, he again left for Paris, and painted the same castle as a cartoon for the tapestry weavers. But it did not take long after that until he took his leave from the King and again left for Antwerp, having arranged ahead of time with the excellent painter Bertholet Flémalle to leave from there to Liège. But they missed each other, for Bertholet had left the day before he arrived. Which is why the progress of the Roman Journey was delayed until the autumn of 1674. In the meantime he made a large work after which to weave tapestries for the Count of Monterrey [= Juan Domingo de Zuñiga y Fonseca, Count of Monterrey] then Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, for which (because it was to proceed quickly) he also appointed others, such as Furni and three other decorative painters. He appointed Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer for the flowers, the old Pieter Boel from Antwerp for the birds, Nicasius Bernaerts from Antwerp for the other animals, and Boité to paint the low relief. He also made a work (in his own commemoration) for the cabinet of curiosities in Antwerp and various portraits in oil and water paints, as well as some small landscapes.

The Roman journey (mentioned earlier) having been set and announced, he formed a travelling company with Mister Marsellus Liberechts, who had been to Rome before, Pieter Verbruggen II famous wood sculptor, François Moens of

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Middelburg, and a canon from Lier. Added to these were Davit Clouet II, engraver from Antwerp, Abraham van den Heuvel, Merchant of Naples, and Soldanio, merchant of Venice. The journey began on the 8th of September 1674 from Antwerp to Cologne, after a four- or five-day stay there by ship to Mainz, and from there by market ship to Frankfurt, after a three-day stay, by coach to Augsburg, and from there on horseback via Tirol, Innsbruck, Trento, Treviso and Mestre, from there by ship to Venice and by way of Ferrara to Bologna, after a four-day stay with horses to Loreto and then via the small cities to Rome, where they arrived on the 4th of November. Thus he gave it to me in a letter, as well as that on the 3rd of January 1674 he entered the bent brotherhood, and received Archimedes as bent name, along with Pieter Verbruggen II, whom they baptized Balloon, and François Moens the Flight. The witnesses who signed their bent letters were:

Albertus Clouwet, bent-named Sandbag , engraver from Antwerp
Gilles du Mont, bent-named Brybergh, painter from Antwerp.
Egidius van der Meeren, bent-named Voorwint, painter from Antwerp.
Abraham Brueghel, bent-named Ryngraaf, painter from Antwerp.
N. van Haringhe, bent-named Mithrades, apothecary from Flanders.
François Monnaville, bent-named the Youth, painter from Brussels.

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Marcellis Librechts, bent-named Parrot, painter from Antwerp.
Jan Baptist Brueghel, bent-named Meleager, painter from Antwerp.
Adriaen Honich, bent-named Lossenbruy, painter Dutchman.
Maurits Bibe, bent-named the Mixer.

David de Coninck, bent-named the Buck Rabbit, painter from Antwerp.
Michiel van Barspalm, bent-named the Steadfastness, figure painter from Flanders.
Donauville bent-named the Square, from Antwerp.
Giovanni Antonio de Groot, bent-named Amusement, from Antwerp.
Bartholomeus Martens, bent-named the Goblet, goldsmith, from Antwerp.
Nicolaes Piemont, bent-named Sunrise, painter, Dutchman.
Bartholomeus de Riemer, bent-named the Touchstone, goldsmith, from Antwerp.
Philipps van der Does, bent-named Orpheus, painter from Antwerp.
Robbert Duval, bent-named Fortune, painter from The Hague.
Jacob de Decker, bent-named the Golden Rain, painter.
Frans de Meyer, bent-named the Delay, painter Dutchman.
Johannes Zierneels, bent-named the Lily, painter from the Bailiwick of Den Bosch.
Cornelis de Bruyn, bent-named Adonis.
Thomas Mathisen there named the Pious, painter from Antwerp.

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The rest who followed later were: Daniel Seiter bent-named Evening Star, painter from Vienna,
Hans Martyn bent-named Courage, German.
Pieter Hofman bent-named Janissary from Antwerp. Anthon Schoonjans bent-named Parrhasius from Antwerp, Carel de Vogelaer bent-named Thistle Flower, from Maastricht;
Jacob van Staverden bent-named Diligence from Amersfoort, Gommarus Wouters bent-named Knight from Antwerp,
Caspar van Wittel bent-named the Torch from Amersfoort,
Dirk Visscher bent-named Glutton,
Jacob de Heusch bent-named the Copy, from Utrecht,
Bernard de Bailliu bent-named Heaven, engraver from Antwerp.
…… de Bakker bent-named Virgilius, poet from Brussels.
Jacques Blondeau bent-named the Hunter, engraver from Antwerp.

The last eight of these Genoels had painted separately on canvas, and they hung around his room. Which he left to Caspar van Wittel as well as Dirck Helmbreeker, his best friend. Beyond these mentioned individuals many others came in between, and late in the evening were drawn like mosquitoes to the candle, who all received something from the pot. And I leave the reader to figure out how much wine poured past the lips at this bent feast, and how much food was ground by the teeth before the jawbones were tired. Besides, it is sometimes slim pickings, and those who sometimes have little, stock up when given a chance.

One can easily figure out from the number of Bentveugels who feasted at his baptismal meal, of which we just saw the roll of names, that he

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must have had a solid gold purse when he let himself be initiated into the bent in Rome. It (says Samuel van Hoogstraten) was instituted in the time of our ancestors for the refreshment of slumbering spirits. There they receive the green new arrivals with amusing equipment and nude shows and honour them with new names with powerful meaning. There they wash away care and conceited delusion with sweet wine and re-cradle those who are not well raised etc.

The most important works that he has painted in Rome are two large pieces and one smaller one for the Cardinal Giacomo Rospigliosi, as well as his portrait and two large works for the ambassador of Spain, the Marquis of Carpio [= Gaspar Méndez de Haro, 7th Marquis of Carpio].

Every year in the autumn he established his residence for two or three months outside Rome in villages or mountains, to paint or draw handsome views of landscapes after life, which modelli, drawings and rolled-up paintings he packed in cases along with models in clay, mosaic work, and casts of marble statues, and shipped ahead to France.

In the year 1682, on the 25th of April, he departed from Rome with the Antique sculptor Petrus Laviron of Antwerp and two French sculptors, Caralier [= Jean Cavalier?] and Michel Mosnier, via Florence, Siena, Pisa, Livorno, Genoa, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, La Ciotat, then by land on mules from there to Marseille, to Avignon, and so up the Rhone to Lyon, and with horses via Forraren [= Clermont-Ferrand?] towards Rouen down the Loire until Orléans, and thus to Paris, where he had to stay for some time until the king's ship docked,

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in which he had shipped his cases with art, visiting his old acquaintances in the meantime.

The ship having arrived and his chests unpacked, he gave a present of an art work by his hand to Charles Le Brun, and a much larger one to Mons. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, after which he left by carriage for Lille, and then for Tournai and Ghent; and arrived on the 8th of December 1682 in Antwerp, where, still alive, he now lives.

His love of art and desire for the elevation of art is so great that in his old age he instructs various young painters and sculptors in the rudiments of mathematics, perspective, geometry and architecture. The man’s portrait may be seen in Plate D 11.

Various examples have shown us how brothers born of one and the same parents adopted an entirely different way of art practice. Now we meet a rare example of three sisters, who driven by the same inclination, practiced flower painting, being

MARIA THERESIA van THIELEN, born in Malines on the 17th of May 1640,

ANNA van THIELEN in the year 1641 and FRANCISCA CATHARINA van THIELEN in 1645. They had learned art from their father, Jan Philip van Thielen, Lord of Kouwenberg (who was a student of Peter [= Daniël Seghers]). They were still alive in 1662, competing against each other for the prize, but none of their art works has ever come into my hands. But Cornelis de Bie

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says that their brushworks were worthy to be paid for with gold. He also indicates further on in his rhyme that Anna and Katharina sometimes also practiced figure painting.

It appears that the art goddess never becomes attached to a particular land and place but that she sometimes also awakens commendable spirits in another place of the world, so that not one land, city or people alone can show off with that lustre or take pride in the honour that the goddess of art has conferred on them alone the privilege of cradling artists.

GERARD de LAIRESSE, a flower of art as beautiful as probably stands to be seen again in no other century, originated in Liège in 1640.

Many have believed that he was a student of the famous Bertholet Flémalle (whose portrait may be seen in Plate E.14.). We do not wish to controvert this completely but would assign the major part of that honour to his father Reinier de Lairesse, who was an excellent painter and in the service of the Prince of Liège [= Ferdinand of Bavaria] together with Bertholet.* Reinier’s art works are only slightly less esteemed than those of Bertholet, since his handling of the brush corresponded with that of Bertholet, so that I have run into paintings of his that one might have taken for autograph brushwork by


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* Bertholet. Some maintain that he was from Brabant or the Netherlands from the nickname Flaman; just as I also have an impression of a print etched by our Lairesse in which some Amazons sit on horseback to whom a dead lion is being shown [1], below which he wrote in his own hand Bartolet Flaman Inventor as proof that it was based on a painting or drawing by Bartolet.

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1
Gerard de Lairesse after Bertholet Flémalle
Semiramis on the lion hunt, 1665-1668
paper, etching, 1st state 372 x 490 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-OB-46.789


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Bertholet. Only he was a little rougher in his handling, nor his equal in the blending of paint.

On this occasion our Lairesse also had access to this great master in art, who, conversant from his youth with several languages, had great sympathy for archaeology and left for Rome to examine more closely and even to draw the actual friezes on the Imperial columns and triumphal arches that he had been shown in books or displays of prints. With some years of living in Rome he became a high flyer in art by practising, without cease after beautiful models with which the city Rome is filled. This may be seen in his brush works, which are grand in conception, animated in their composition, smoothly or broadly painted, and skilfully drawn. From this De Lairesse received a concept of what people call the Antique and commands respect for the Italian way of painting; in which he was later, by other means (as we will show in its place), completely instructed. In addition he knew the print work of Pietro Testa early on, before it was seen by others in Holland, and made use of it, especially in his way of drawing, as may clearly be seen in his first drawings. I do not say this to the man's detriment, but to his credit and as proof of his good judgement, through which he was able to select praiseworthy handling and to take it as his model. For to help oneself to another's intellect, as long as what is borrowed does not stand out like a new patch on an old beggar's cloak, requires good judgement.

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That is why I have nothing against it happening in this way, and advocate that freedom for my colleagues, as Andries Pels did for poets in his Use and Abuse of the Theatre.

If Virgil knew hoe to distill gold from
The dregs of Aeneas, and took rich booty
From Homer, it would not diminish the praise
Of the
very best comedic poet of the Romans
That he melted two plays by Menander into one,
When he composed his Andria:
and is it allowed,
That Plautus, Nevius, and Ennius from languages
Of others take the
embellishment of their poems
Yes often the argument, the style, and it is no scandal
For you Guarini,
that in your fatherland,
You chose Tasso
in your mother tongue
And with the material of Amintas, without
blushing
Grace your Pastor Fido? ................
.................... And it
is ever permissible
For Moliere, that without being ashamed,
Follows the Italians in most of his work,
Who their witticisms and
jokes without equal
Draw from Aristophanes, and Plautus:
Yes
will it occasion their praise instead of slander? Etc.

In this way the ancient painters also deserve praise, when they borrowed, reshaped and rearranged what is most priceless from others and thus mounted art by steps to greater perfection. Why should this now be opposed? But (as I said above) this is provided that they have robbed a figure, arm, leg etc from someone or other,

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but have blended the borrowed parts into the whole so entirely that nothing stands out, so that it does not happen to them as the raven in the fable experienced, who had plucked out his black quills and had decked himself with the feathers of other birds until each took back his own and the raven stood naked and was mocked by everyone.

Gerard de Lairesse decides to leave his native city (no sand, goes the saying, is appreciated in its own land) to seek his fortune elsewhere. He settles down in Utrecht but does not at first find what he sought, nor could he succeed with the art of his brush, so that sometimes, out of necessity, he had to paint a fire screen or awning sign. Someone who lived next door advised him to paint a few pieces and send them to Amsterdam to show them to the art dealer Gerrit Uylenburgh, as happened. Jan van Pee and Anthonie de Grebber painted for Uylenburgh at the time and had just enough French between them that they understood and could answer the female messenger, who could speak no Dutch. And seeing these two pieces in the presence of Uylenburgh, they praised them according to their worth and were at the same time amazed that such a light of art could be covered by ignorance as if by a dark fog, and advised Uylenburgh to buy them. Who then asked of the messenger how much money she wanted for them? Who gave as answer: as much as it pleased him to give. Uylenburgh offered her 60

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