Gerson Digital : Italy


2.8 Portrait and History Painters Rome

It would be underestimating the wanderlust of the Dutch to imagine that in the period after Pieter van Laer it was only landscape, marine and still-life painters who headed southwards. Portrait and history painters followed in their footsteps in order to learn from the works of past and present masters. In the 1640s we encounter no less a figure than Gerard ter Borch II (1617-1681) in Rome.1 Johannes de Veer I (c. 1610-1662),2 Nicolaes van Helt Stockade (1614-1669) and Cornelis de Man (1621-1706) were in the city at the same time. David Beck (1621-1656) came to Rome in 1653 as court painter to Queen Christine of Sweden, while David Klöcker von Ehrenstrahl (1628-1698) from Hamburg, who trained in Amsterdam, worked in Rome under Pietro da Cortona before settling in Sweden [1].3 Nicolaes van Helt Stockade painted the portrait of Stefano della Bella in Italy, of which Hollar later made an engraving [2]. Gerard ter Borch II portrayed his friend and patron, Jan Six, when he was in Rome [3].4 A delightful drawing shows the two travellers on the Septimius Severus Arch relishing the view of the Forum [4-6].5

The portrait and history painters who were in Rome after 1650 are of little interest as regards the dissemination of Dutch art. They studied the Franco-Roman Baroque style in frescoes, historical paintings and portraits. A typical example of the career pursued by such artists was Frédéric Kerseboom (1628-1693) from Germany. He was initially taught in Amsterdam, studied under Le Brun in Paris in 1650, was a pupil of Nicolas Poussin for two years after that and then spent 12 years in Rome, reportedly at the expense of the French Chancellor, working under Poussin, whose works he imitated. The academic history painters from The Hague undertook similar studies in Rome. They differed little from one another, irrespective of whether they went by the name of Willem Doudijns (1630-1697), Theodor van der Schuer (1634-1707)6 (and his pupil Cornelis de Bruyn [1652-1726/7]),7 Daniël Mijtens II (1644-1688) or Robbert Duval (1649-1732) or were members of a younger generation such as Augustin, Elias and Mattheus Terwesten, Domenicus van Wijnen and Daniel Jacobsz, a student of Willem Doudijns.

David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
View of the Roman Forum, the temple of Antoninus and Faustina, c. 1656-1659
paper ? x ? mm
Private collection

Wenzel Hollar after Nicolaes van Helt Stockade published by Joannes Meyssens
Portrait of Stefano della Bella, 1649-1670
paper, etching 162 x 113 mm
lower left : Stocado pinxit
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-OB-11.369

attributed to Gerard ter Borch (II)
Portrait of Jan Six (1618-1700), after 1654
copper, oil paint 100 x 80 mm
on the back : te Romen geschildert Anno 1640.
Amsterdam, Six Stichting

Anoniem Noordelijke Nederlanden (historische regio) ca. 1640
Three gentlemen and a guide admiring the Arch of Titus from the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome, c. 1640
paper, red chalk, traces of black chalk, pen in brown ink, brown wash 180 x 246 mm
Haarlem, Teylers Museum

possibly Gerard ter Borch (I)
Roman ruins, possibly at the Palatine, dated 16[1]1
paper, pen 211 x 255 mm
lower left : GTB. 1641
Leiden, Prentenkabinet van de Universiteit (Leiden), inv./ PK-1916-T-1

Gerard ter Borch (I)
Ruins of the Frontispizio di Nerone on the Quirinal at Rome, dated 1610
paper, pen and brush in brown, grey wash 158 x 125 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : G.T. Borch. Fecit naet leven in Roemen. Anno i6i0
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, inv./ H 24

Working on behalf of the ‘archaeologist’ Bonaventura van Overbeek, van Wijnen made drawings of the life of the ‘Bent’ fraternity which are now only of interest to historians. Matthijs Pool made engravings of these three drawings.8 Willem Doudijns was also interested in archaeology. He drew Greek and Roman statues which Jan de Bisschop used for his book.9 Willem van Ingen (1651-1708) (whose ‘Bent’ name was ‘The First’, because he was the first to have been christened after the intervention of the Inquisition), painted the portrait of the Vicar Apostolic of the Netherlands, Johannes van Neercassel, when he was in Rome [7]. The Terwestens were also active as art dealers. The eldest of the three brothers endeavoured to acquire the collection of Prince Livio Odescalchi but his efforts were thwarted by an export ban.10 At the behest of his master, the Elector of Brandenburg, Elias Terwesten bought two extensive plaster cast collections that were intended to grace the newly established Academy in Berlin, where his brother worked.11

Jacob Toorenvliet (1640-1719)12 and Matthijs Naiveu (1647-1726), fijnschilders from Leiden, can be included here together with van Ingen’s pupil, Albert van Spiers (1655-1718), and Cornelis Mebeecq (1662-1690), a successor to Lairesse [8]. Naiveu’s small-figure genre pictures constitute the final flourish, as it were, of the Bambocciate [9].13 Toorenvliet’s skills as a portrait painter are exemplified by the portrait of Carel Quina, which he painted in Rome in 1669 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) [10]. The steady flow of Dutch artists did not dry up even at the end of the 17th century. None of them were stars in the Dutch artistic firmament capable of promulgating the achievements of the combined Dutch-Italian style within the country itself or beyond its borders. Gerard Wigmana (1673-1741) was dubbed the ‘Friesian Raphael’, 14 while others such as Hendrik van Hulst (1685-1754), Samuel Duval (1697-1732/3, Magnus de Quiter (1694-1744), 15 Augustinus Houbraken, Theodor Hartzoecker (1696-1740/1), Dionys Godijn (born 1652/7), Phillipp Christian Bentum (c. 1690-after 1757)16 and Jan Anthonie Coxie (after 1650-1720)17 were certainly no less renowned in their time.

Willem van Ingen
Portrait of Johannes van Neercassel (1623-1686), 1680
panel, oil paint 36,5 x 29 cm
Utrecht, Oud-Katholieke Gemeente van St. Gertrudis

Cornelis Mebeecq
Bacchus comforts Ariadne
canvas, oil paint 86 x 108 cm
location unknown : C. MEBEECQ F
Hermann Combé (Stuttgart) 1960-04-27 - 1960-04-28, nr. 316

Matthijs Naiveu
Marketscene at the Quirinal square in Rome, with a woman at a vegetable stall, clowns and horses, 1698 (dated)
canvas, oil paint 49 x 41 cm
lower right : M.Naiveu / F 1698
Van Ham Kunstauktionen (Keulen) 2006-11-16 - 2006-11-18, nr. 1028

Jacob Toorenvliet
Portrait of Carel Quina (1622-1689), knight of the Holy Grave; Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome in the background, dated 1669
copper, oil paint 40 x 31 cm
lower left : JToorenvliet. Fecit. Anno 1669
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ SK-A-2254


1 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] A stay in Italy by Gerard ter Borch II is now considered unlikely; all the proof of his presumed stay in Italy has evaporated due to changed attributions and datings (see below).

2 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Probably not identical to the artist with the Bent-name 'Paradijsvogel', Johannes de Veer II (c. 1647/8-after 1676), who inscribed his name and Bent-name in the Santa Costanza in Rome. Johannes I from Utrecht was in Rome in the late 1630s; Johannes II from Amsterdam was in Rome probably around 1670 (Huys Janssen 1994B).

3 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] A sketchbook of his journey between 1653 and 1661 survives (private collection, Sweden). It contains 58 architectural views and landscapes from Venice, Rome, and Orléans. The sketchbook was possibly commissioned by Queen Christina of Sweden (Nisser 1932).

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] The portrait in the Six collection (Hofstede de Groot 269) is inscribed on the back: ‘te Romen geschildert Anno 1645’ [read: 1640]. We have no reason to doubt the date; the letter that has been published by Moes, does not rule out Six’s presence in Rome (Moes 1886, p. 152). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The date on the back of the Six portrait is unlikely and inconsistent with the costume; it is probably painted in the 1650s in Amsterdam (Gudlaugsson 1959-1960, p. 72, no. 39). The portrait is consistent with the age and dating of Rembrandt's portrait of Jan Six of 1654, which may have served as its model.

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Drawing in the collection J.Q. van Regteren Altena, Amsterdam. Other drawings from his Roman period in Leiden and in the collection F. Koenings, dated 1641 and 1640. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The first drawing is now listed as anonymous. The drawing in Leiden (inv. 2853) is possibly a drawing by Gerard ter Borch I; the original date of 1611 was later changed to 1641 (Gudlaugsson 1959-1950, p. 72). The drawing that was formerly in the Koenings collection (now in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen), is a drawing of 1610 by Gerard ter Borch I (Kettering 1988, vol. 2, p. 816, no. 7, ill.).

6 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Van der Schuer resided in the Discesa di San Giuseppe in 1661 and 1662 where he shared lodgings with the engraver Cornelis Bloemaert (Hoogewerff 1942, p. 250-251; Bartoni 2012, p. 361). Bertolotti (Bertolotti 1880, p. 153 ff.) and Hoogewerff (Hoogewerff 1952, p. 119) erroneously placed a trial against the Dutch painter in 1665, which actually took place in 1661 (Bartoni 2012, p. 528). He was accused of having recited a satirical poem against French painters on Piazza di Spagna and spent several days in jail. It is unclear whether Van der Schuer was still in Rome between 1663 (no longer recorded as living in the Discesa di San Giuseppe) and the spring of 1665.

7 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On the travels of de Bruyn: Drijvers et al. 1997.

8 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] De Nile in Cappelletti/Lemoine 2014-2015, p. 160-165.

9 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] See above, § 2.5.

10 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Houbraken 1718/1721 vol. 2, p. 302.

11 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Borchia 2010-2011, p. 64

12 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Toorenvliet: Krakau 2002. On his activities in Vienna: Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2017-2018, § 7.3.

13 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Although some genre scenes by Naiveu are situated in Rome, there is no indication that he ever stayed there.

14 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Wigmana: Van Haersma Buma 1969.

15 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On the activity of the Quiter family in Germany: Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2017-2018, § 4.1 .

16 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On van Bentum’s activity in Bohemia: Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2017-2018, § 7.7 .

17 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Coxie in Italy: Meijer 1988. On Coxie’s activity in Germany: Gerson/Van Leeuwen et al. 2017-2018, § 2.9.

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