Houbraken Translated


Volume 3, page 60-69

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of linen and went along. He then lived (as I have already more or less indicated) in Amsterdam on the Herengracht at the Spiegelstraat and had an old wife whom he had married before in Lyon, with whom he had lain about the house for a long time. She had scraped together a lot of money by running a soup kitchen and inn for strangers. They say that she took him on as payment for his debt.

Having arrived in Rome, Reynst left him there and continued his journey through the Italian cities until, having seen everything he returned to Rome and asked Karel if he now wanted to return to the fatherland. But what was the hurry? I will stay (he answered) since I am where I wanted to be, and let the company leave with an oral message to his old wife that he would follow. But he died in Venice (whether it was his intention to leave for home in the end, I do not know) around the time Govert van der Leeuw, also known as the Lione was there, who helped carry him to earth in November of 1678. Johannes Glauber was also there, who also told me that Karel painted in Venice with a Dutch merchant, became ill but recovered after a short while, but finally overloaded his stomach with too much food and died. He was buried in the Catholic fashion (though Reformed), wrapped in a habit. It is remarkable that there were at the same time three masters in art who were baptised Karel, namely Carlo Maratta


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in Rome, Johann Carl Loth in Venice and our Karel du Jardin from Amsterdam.

His portrait stands in Plate B with a hat on his head.

Now follow WILLEM DROST, van TERLEE and WILLEM de POORTER. These painted histories. Of the first, who was a student of Rembrandt, I have seen a sermon by John, which was well-painted and drawn. He was in Rome for a long time, where he associated with Johann Carl Loth and Johannes van der Meer, about whom we have told a remarkable story in the biography of Jan Davidsz. de Heem.

By the second I have seen an abduction of Europa, with her close and surrounding maidens. And by the third a depiction of the Queen of Sheba [1] etc. But he occupied himself most with the painting of still-life.

On this follows JACOB GILLIG, a child of Utrecht and married to the daughter of Adam Willaerts. He was at first a merchant but later turned to the painting of all kinds of fish, especially river fish, which are most common in Utrecht, which he was able to paint naturally and inventively. He was comical in his behaviour but this brought him little advantage. When the French had occupied Utrecht in the year 1672, he was able to sell few of his pictures, and this was solely (as the proverb goes) his horse and plough. He therefore turned to portrait painting. But since no one wanted to be the first sitter, this dragged on a little before it got him work.

At last he got a woman to paint, but she said (after the work was completed) that it


Willem de Poorter
De koningin van Seba voor Salomo (1 Koningen 10:2-3), ca. 1630
New York City, particuliere collectie The Leiden Collection, inv./cat.nr. WP-100

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did not resemble her but that it resembled her niece so perfectly that (though she had sat for the work herself) it could not resemble her better. Well! said Gillig, is that not good? Take it for a portrait of your niece. It is all the same to me under what name I am paid, as long as I get the money.

It went with him as Jan Vos says of Mathys the painter, who did not capture good likenesses.

When painting Mathys seems a fine young Turk, says Toon:
Because when he paints he
obeys the ten commandments.
Do you
ask what he does to obey the Law?
One never
sees him make parables [= gelykenissen] with paint.

At first Gillig was quite conceited about his art and had a habit of criticizing others for their mistakes, but that pride later decreased.

The conceited (says Baltasar Gracián) try to raise themselves above the horns of the moon, but these horns are more dangerous than those of a bull, because he who leans beyond this centre is almost forced to fall, to be mocked by another. Jan Vos in his epigrams says inventively about the conceited Flip:

Flip has received a gift (says he) from above:
But the people have a gift not to believe Flip.


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JOANNES PHILIPPUS SPALTHOFF also belongs to the list of those whose time of birth I could not discover. He painted histories and animals, but most often Italian vegetable markets. He thrice walked to Rome on foot. And JASPER BROERS painted Brabant farmers’ markets. He was better in art than the afore-mentioned. I have seen a fairly large piece by him full of a bustle of figures which is very well arranged and dressed in farmer’s fashion and also cleverly grouped. Also airily and loosely brushed were the background and trees, so that placed at a slight distance it was beautiful and harmonious.

On this follows MARTINUS SAEGHMOLEN. I have seen a large piece by him depicting the Last Judgment, in which were shown an almost innumerable number of figures, both large and small, as well as young and mature angels. Most of them were naturally depicted, seeing that they were so palely painted that they resemble shades or ghosts. They say that Jan Luyken in his youth learned the arts of drawing and painting with him. I can believe it too, seeing that one often sees equally gloomy expressions in his figures and scraggly-haired angels depicted by his etching stylus.

In the miscellaneous poems of Pieter Rixtel, JOHANNES BUNS is called the famous portrait painter. But none of his artful brush works has ever come my way. Hence I am not able judge their merit.

It seems to me that he was also a figure painter,


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as far as I can judge from the verses that Joan Blasius made about two figures of Venus. In the first he has the sea goddess speak.

Who says my naked body, painted by Buns, is too beautiful,
Thus I was, when I was with Paris and Adonis.

And in the second he addresses the maker thus:

How Buns! Back to painting Venus?
Don’t let Venus mess with your head.
Though Mars never coveted Venus,
You seem to love
Lady Venus.

Thus I also find sonnets about his contemporary and fellow artist Alexander Sanders from which I can see that he was a portrait painter, but that is all I know. Now follows JAN ASSELIJN, or Little Crab. He got that name in the bent because he had a scorched hand and claw-like fingers so that he was barely able to hold his palette. In addition he was small of stature, which is why Florent le Comte called him petit Jean hollandais. But he was a great master in art, as his brushworks in the Netherlands are known to show. He was also one of the first who brought the pure and clear way of landscape painting, like that of Claude Lorain, to Holland.

Around the year 1645, while in Lyon, he married the youngest daughter of David Houwaert Koorman of Antwerp, and Nicolaes de Helt Stockade



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married the oldest, whom they both took with them to Holland. That is what Abraham Genoels II, nicknamed Archimedes, told me from the mouth of the painter Laureys Franck, who lived in Lyon in the home of the mentioned Houwaert along with Artus Quellinus I, who made the artful marble sculpture on the city hall. His portrait following the one etched by Rembrandt [2] and come out in print, may be seen in Plate C7.

There was also another painter with the name of Petit Jean Hollandais [Jean Petit] known in France. He painted very detailed and precise landscapes with small figures. His was bent name was Balloon. We will explain elsewhere what this means in Dutch. He had already died when Abraham Genoels arrived in Rome in 1651.

JACOB van RUISDAEL, a great friend of Nicolaes Berchem, came from Haarlem but spent most of the years of his life in Amsterdam. His father [= Isaack van Ruisdael], who was an ebony wood frame maker, had him learn the Latin language in his youth and further had him practice the science of medicine, in which he came so far that he performed various manual operations in Amsterdam to great acclaim. However, he died in Haarlem in the year 1681 and was buried on the 16th of November, as I learned from one of the funeral announcements [= burial date of his cousin Jacob Salomonsz. Ruisdael].

He painted domestic and foreign landscapes, but especially those in which one sees water plunging down from one rock to another, to finally disperse itself with rustling [geruis] (to which his name


Portrait of Jan Asselijn (c. 1610-1652), c. 1647
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-1961-1153

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appears to allude) in and through the dales, or planes. He knew how to depict the spraying, or the water foaming because of the enormous splashing on the rocks, so naturally thinly and translucently that it appeared to be nothing other than natural water. He was able to depict sea water in the same way, when it pleased him to put on panel a rough sea, which with the violence of heaving waves foams against rock and dune. His way of painting therefore belonged to the best. But I have not been able to determine if he had fortune as his girlfriend.

He remained single to the end of his life, they say, to be much more of a help to his old father.

His brother [=uncle] Salomon van Ruysdael, who had died before him in the year 1670, was also a commendable painter. In addition he had an invention to imitate all kinds of marble so well that one would not have believed anything other than that it was truly marble stone. I have seen two round shaped spheres, artfully veined, cold, hard and heavy as stone, serving as decoration for a cabinet. He could form and knead this material as he pleased while it was soft. Everyone had respect for such polished stone work until it became known or leaked out that it was imitated.

It often happens that the most commendable painters are not the happiest. On the contrary, experience has shown us that others of lesser competence make a lot of money because


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they were able to have their brushes flatter the nature or sensuality of the century in which they lived. In my youth, I recall, the preference of people was especially focussed on flowers and fruit. But it was not given to everyone to have a fruit piece by Jan Davidsz. de Heem as furnishing, or a still life of Willem van Aelst, which were quite pricy at the time. This was observed by CASPAR SMITS, known as Hartkamp, who had settled in Dordrecht in 1675, then around 40 years old. I do not know where he was born but as I have been informed, his father was a military officer and at that time lived in Swartewaal, above Zutphen in Overijssel.

This Caspar Smits, having arrived in Dordrecht, went to live in with one Joan Kools, an organist, whose wife traded in paintings. The first art work that he made there was a Magdalena lamenting over her sins. The supplemental work depicted a cliff which he painted in black and white and then evenly hatched it with brown yellow madder and Spanish green, so that it appeared very natural and powerful [3]. And he kept that same way of handling for his fruit pieces, of which he made many that found ready buyers or were sold, so that he would have gathered a stiff purse with them if such a method had long prevailed. But this was not the case, since colourful paintings again changed to drab ones and he was therefore taken for a fraud. Our Amstelstroom writer [= Joannis Antonides van der Goes] says about


Jacob Gole after Caspar Smits published by Jacob Gole
Saint Magdalen repentant
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-1904-2810

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treacherous appearances as if he had this in mind:

Sham, which with full power,
Has crept into the world,
At which everyone gapes, and
To buy something great and essential;
The entire world is a sham
She has people discover too late,
How many things are different,
From what they at first appear.

When it happened that he was approached about this, he gave as answer: that the colours had held up longer than the money that he had received for them, as it had run out his pocket sooner. However, he remained in Dordrecht for a long time and courted a woman innkeeper, who supported him with money until his wife, who had followed his trail, showed up in Dordrecht, which put a damper on things, and he left from there without my knowing where he went.

Now appears on the stage the excellent MELCHIOR d’ HONDECOETER, born in Utrecht in the year 1636. His great grandfather (so his friends say) was the legitimate Marques of Westerloo.* To escape the violence of the Spanish

* An old and important domain with a great castle, located in the bailiwick of Ghelen, between Herentals and Diest, in Brabant. It was turned into a Margravedom by Philip IV, King of Spain, following a letter issued in Madrid in the year 1626 to the benefit of Philip, Baron of Merode. Brabantia Illustrata.


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Inquisition, being disposed to the Reformed Religion, he left his estate and fled with his family to Holland, where he settled in Amsterdam. His son GILLIS de HONDECOETER, who in his youth had studied painting for his amusement, applied himself to the painting of portraits to earn money, as he and his father found themselves robbed of their property. For whatever trouble they later took to come into possession of it again, was to no avail. On the contrary, the old man, who was righteous and trusting (sincere people, says Baltasar Gracián, are easily cheated), was scandalously misled and swindled. For a man named Joan Verwers, a very bad sort, pretended to want to be of service to them, so that they entrusted the letters and proof to his hands, with which he left for Brabant. But when he was asked some time ago, after he had returned, how the affair was proceeding, the cheat gave as answer that he had been tricked out of the letters through carelessness, and showed them great sympathy about this. But that he had made much money out of it was not doubted, for he who had owned little of value before, later played the part of a grand seigneur.

Gillis d’Hondecoeter, the grandfather of our Melchior, also later turned to landscape painting and imitated the handling of Roelant Savery and David Vinckboons I. He was a handsome and well-formed man who


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