Gerson Digital : Italy


3.2 Dutch Art and Artists in Florence

Baldinucci was better informed about Florence,1 where Cosimo de’ Medici III (1642-1723), who ruled from 1670 until his death, had compiled a small collection of Dutch pictures towards the end of the century. Cosimo had been to Holland twice as crown prince (in 1667 and 1669) and many artists seized the occasion to pay a courtesy call on this distinguished gentleman [1].2 He instructed his Amsterdam agents, Giovacchino Guasconi (1635-1699),3 del Vigna and Francesco Feroni (1614-1696)4 to buy works of art and so ultimately many precious items made their way to Florence thanks to the good services of the Düsseldorf Elector, Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz (1658-1716), who was his son-in-law.5

Cosimo’s predecessors had been great art lovers, too, and it is more than likely that one or other of the Dutchmen returning home put their stopover in Florence to good use. Unfortunately, very little can be gleaned from the sources in this respect. The first artist we encounter is Jan Bijlevelt or Giovanni Biliverti (1585-1644) [2]6 from Maastricht who, as a pupil of Lodovico Cigoli, became completely Italianised and formed a stylistic community together with Cristoforo Allori and Matteo Rosselli. His father, Jaques Bijlevelt or Jacopo Biliverti (1550-1603) [3] was a respected goldsmith at the Medici court and recognised in his own right.7

Gerard ter Borch (II)
Portrait of a man in armour, probably Cosimo III de' Medici (1642-1723), second half 1660s
copper, oil paint 64 x 42.5 cm
lower right : GTB
Deventer, Museum De Waag (Deventer)

Giovanni Biliverti
The archangel Raphael refusing Tobias's gift, dated 1612
canvas, oil paint 175 x 146 cm
center right : GB. F. 1612
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 202

Hans von Aachen
Portrait of the goldsmith Jacques Biliverti (1550-1603), dated 1586
canvas, oil paint 58.5 x 47 cm
topside (positional attribute) : 15.86
Aachen, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum

A further indication of Gerard van Honthorst’s (1592-1656) renown is the interest Cosimo II (1590-1621, ruled 1609-1621) showed in his works. When the artist was still in Rome, where he certainly had no dearth of commissions, he received an order to paint for the Florentine prince. As a result, in 1620, Honthorst sent Company by Candelight [4] to Florence, where it still hangs today in the Uffizi Gallery.8 We learn from Mancini that Honthorst was working on a Birth of Christ the following year ‘in which the light radiating from the gentle Christ Child is caught by the Madonna and the two angels’ [5].9 This picture was also sent to Florence. The same year Honthorst left Rome, making a brief stop in Florence on his return journey home.10 The Guicciardini family commissioned him to produce a large Adoration of the Shepherds which used to be in the Guicciardini Chapel in Santa Felicità (now in the Uffizi Gallery) [6].11 Mancini certainly has a point when he says that looking at the Little Adoration he feels reminded of Carracci and Caravaggio. Be that as it may, Caravaggio’s vigorous style has been toned down in the mild light and gentle modelling of his ‘pupil’, thereby making it more palatable to the taste of an aristocratic collector. Even after the artist returned to the north there was no lack of interest in his works at the Florentine court. When Ferdinand II heard in 1628 that six paintings by Honthorst were on offer in Rome, he immediately dispatched an emissary to enquire about the price and other conditions of purchase.12

Gerard van Honthorst
Merry Company with a Lute Player, c. 1619-1620
canvas, oil paint 144 x 212 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, no. 730

Gerard van Honthorst
The Nativity, 1619-1620
canvas, oil paint 95.5 x 131 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, nr. 739

Gerard van Honthorst
The Adoration of the Shepherds
canvas, oil paint 338.5 x 198.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ no. 77 (1890)

The close affinity between various pre-Rembrandtists and their Florentine contemporaries in the Allori group indicates that they likewise stopped over in Florence on their return journey.13 Unfortunately there is no official documentation to prove it. Cornelis de Bie says that Leonaert Bramer was also in Florence and we learn from Joachim von Sandrart that Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594/5-1667) was in the employ of the Grand Duke of Florence.14 That must have been just after his departure from Rome, for Poelenburch mentions the etching skills of Jacques Callot who had himself left Florence that same year, 1622, after having worked there for a decade.15 The delightful little pictures that are now in Florence probably date from the time Poelenburch spent in the city [7-9].16

Cornelis van Poelenburch
Mozes striking the rock, c. 1617-1625
copper, oil paint 45.5 x 63.5 cm
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, inv./ 1220

Cornelis van Poelenburch
Anna with the young Mary, c. 1620
copper, oil paint 10.5 x 7.5 cm
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, inv./ 8261

Cornelis van Poelenburch
Landscape with a ruin
panel, oil paint 16 x 22 cm
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, inv./ 1198

The son of Cosimo II, Ferdinand II (1610-1670), had a predilection for Dutch still lifes. He was utterly fascinated by such supremely talented artists as Otto Marseus van Schrieck (1619/20-1678) [10-11]17 who had moved to Italy with Hendrik Graauw (c. 1627-1693)18 and Matthias Withoos (c. 1627-1703) (who could also paint still lifes in the style of Marseus). When Ferdinand’s son, the later Cosimo III, was in Holland in 1667, Marseus hastened to visit the son of his former patron in order to offer him some pictures. We do not know whether Cosimo bought any [12-13]. Willem van Aelst (1627-1683), 19 who was taught by Marseus and collaborated with him in Florence, likewise did not fail to pay a courtesy visit to the relative of such an important customer. Marseus’ special patron was the uncle of Cosimo III, the artistically inclined Cardinal Giovan Carlo de’ Medici (1611-1663) who at his death left no less than 14 Dutch still lifes.20 Willem van Aelst and Marseus van Schrieck returned home in about 1657.21 Willem van Aelst’s stay in Italy swelled his ego to such an extent that he subsequently signed his works ‘Guill mo van Aelst’.22 The Pitti Gallery has two of his paintings, which Cosimo may have commissioned in Holland in 1668 [14-15].23 Cosimo certainly brought back with him from his travels the two still lifes by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684) and Maria van Oosterwijck (1630-1693) (now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence) [16-17], whose works were also offered to him.24 Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) still worked for the Florentine court in 1711. When Uffenbach visited her in Amsterdam, she was working on two pictures for the Grand Duke [18-19].25

Otto Marseus van Schrieck
Forest floor still life with snake and butterflies, c. 1655
canvas, oil paint 37.7 x 46.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1184 ( 1890)

Otto Marseus van Schrieck
Forest floor still life with lizard, butterflies, and a snail, c. 1655
canvas, oil paint 38.5 x 47.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1262 ( 1890)

Otto Marseus van Schrieck
Forest landscape with lily of the valley with butterflies, snake and two martens, dated 1668
canvas, oil paint 81.5 x 67.5 cm
lower right : OTTHO/ Marseus. v. Schrieck. 1668-1-29
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 500 ( Oggetti d'Arte Pitti 1911)

Otto Marseus van Schrieck
Forest ground still-lfe with thistle, snake, butterflies and other plants, dated 1668
canvas, oil paint 69 x 53 cm
lower right : O. Marseus /D/S. 68-1-29
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 501 ( Oggetti d'Arte Pitti 1911)

Willem van Aelst
Still life of fruits with a goblet and a melon, dated 1652
canvas, oil paint 73 x 58 cm
below, right of the middle : W.V. aelst. 1652
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 509 (Oggetti d'Arte 1911)

Willem van Aelst
Flowers in a glass vase with bronze foot and a watch on a marble ledge, dated 1652
canvas, oil paint 73 x 58 cm
lower center : W.V. Aelst 1652
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 508 ( Oggetti d'Arte 1911)

Jan Davidsz. de Heem
Still life with fruit and rummer, 1640s
canvas, oil paint 60.7 x 73 cm
upper left : J. D. De Heem f.
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1244

Maria van Oosterwijck
Flowers, fruit and insects, dated 167[.]
panel, oil paint 38 x 30.4 cm
: Aº 167[.]
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1308

Rachel Ruysch
Still life of flowers in a wicker basket, probably 1711
panel, oil paint 46.2 x 61.6 cm
on the back : Rachel Ruysch
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1285 (1890)

Rachel Ruysch
Still life of fruit, animals and insects on a mossy ground, dated 1711
panel, oil paint 46 x 61 cm
lower left : Rachel Ruysch / 1711
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1276 (1890)

There was a constant need for Dutch portraitists at the courts and Florence was no exception. Teodor Lubieniecki (1654-1716/8) from Cracow, a pupil and imitator of Gerard de Lairesse, was called to Tuscany but left his position there in 1682 to work in Hanover – probably with good references from neighbouring Modena. Wilhelmina Amalia of Hanover was a sister of Charlotte Felicitas of Modena, with whom she resided for a long time. It was to such family ties that Jan Frans van Douven (1656-1727) owed his journey to Italy.26 In 1697 Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, sent him to Modena and Florence, where he was commissioned to paint the portrait of the Grand Duke of Tuscany [20] for his daughter, Anna Maria Luisa (1667-1743),27 who had married the ruler of the Palatinate [21]. On this or some other occasion he brought pictures from Germany with him, little paintings in keeping with contemporary taste, such as that of the Electoral couple in fancy-dress costume [22] 28 and others of the Electoral Highnesses [23]29 and, last but not least, by special request a self-portrait of the artist [24] (paintings in Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi Gallery). After the death of Elector Johann Wilhelm he painted his widow with her deceased husband on his deathbed at the back of the room [25]. Anna Maria Luisa took the picture back with her to Florence, where she spent the rest of her days.30 Among the other portraitists we can record in Florence were Jacobus de Baen (1673-1700), whose father had already served Cosimo from Amsterdam,31 and Jan van Mieris (1660-1690) [26], who died in Rome when still a young man.32

Jan Frans van Douven
Portrait of Cosimo III de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, 1697
canvas, oil paint 65 x 53.5 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M.Ob.793

Jan Frans van Douven
Double portrait of elector Johann Wilhelm of the Palatine and Anna Maria Luisa de'Medici, before 1713
canvas, oil paint 246 x 187 cm
lower left : CP
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 2718

Jan Frans van Douven
Elector Johann Wilhelm of the Palatine and electress Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici in Spanish costume at a court ball, dated 1695
canvas, oil paint 56.5 x 42.5 cm
lower right : JF Douven Pinxit 1695
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 768

Jan Frans van Douven after Adriaen van der Werff
Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de Medici, electress of the Palatine, after 1700
canvas, oil paint 76 x 54 cm
on the back : J.F.D.P. / Anna Maria Luisa di Toscana Elettrice Palatina
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 4341

Jan Frans van Douven
Self portrait with double portrait of the elecoral couple Johann Wilhelm and Anna Maria Luisa of the Palatine, probably c. 1717
canvas, oil paint 83.8 x 67.3 cm
on the back : Chlr: Jean Franc: Douven peintre ordinaire de Leurs Altezzes Serm Electorales Palatines
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1873

Jan Frans van Douven
Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de'Medici in mourning dress, between 1716
canvas, oil paint 65 x 47.5 cm
Pisa, Museo nazionale di Palazzo Reale, inv./ 4957

Jan van Mieris
Christ and the woman of Samaria at the well (John 4:1-42), dated 1690
canvas on panel, oil paint 43.5 x 34.3 cm
lower center : J v Mieris. Annº 1690
Phillips Auctioneers (London (England)) 1997-04-15, nr. 136

Of less art historical interest are the silhouettists and embroiderers, although they too were an integral element of court art. During his journey to Holland, Cosimo engaged the services of Johannes van Achelom (c. 1640-after 1703),33 who is referred to as Signor Giovanni in the 1668 service records of the Florentine court [27]. He was a past master at cutting silhouettes and, according to the references in old inventories, also seems to have painted biblical and allegorical scenes. Johanna Koerten (1650-1715) made a paper cut-out of Cosimo III (during his trip to Holland?), while the embroideress Rozée (1632-1682) sold the Grand Duke ‘een stuk van haar beste werk’ [a piece of her best work] for 500 guilders.34 Thomas Halleman (c. 1665-in or after 1708) is said to have lived for ten to twelve years in Florence (working as a miniaturist?),35 as did the engraver Theodor Vercruys (1671-1739), who was called Teodoro della Croce in Italy.36 He worked in the Grand Duke’s gallery and made engravings not only of Flemish and Italian paintings but also of Rembrandt’s Man with His Hands Folded (Palazzo Pitti) [28].

During his sojourn in the Netherlands Cosimo III had endeavoured to acquire portraits of famous men, military commanders and naval heroes such as De Ruyter, Maerten Tromp [29],37 Prince Willem III, Johan Maurits and outstanding scholars like Johann Graevius – works which even today are still scattered in the many corridors and portals of the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti.38 Nicolaes Heinsius (1620-1618) gave him the portrait of Sophia van Nassau painted by Pieter Nason (1612-1688/90) which must still be hidden away somewhere in Florence [30]. Cosimo’s collection of portraits would have been incomplete without the finest society ladies of The Hague. Cosimo expected portraits of both daughters of Admiral van Wassenaar-Obdam [31-32], the two daughters of Johan van Gent, Governor of Willem III, and other beauties; the portraits of the ladies de Lalaing, de Lahaut and van Grimberghen also had to be sent from Brussels. The Comte d’Estrades subsequently reported to Florence that ‘ les dames du Balet font faire leurs portrets pour les envoyer à V.A.S.‘.39

Johannes van Achelom
The adoration of the shepherds in the stable, dated 1702
paper 105 x 75 mm
: 1702
Private collection

Theodoor Vercruys after Francesco Petrucci after Rembrandt
Old man in an armchair
paper, engraving (printing process), ink 346 x 255 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-1878-A-1752

after Ferdinand Bol
Portrait of Cornelis Tromp (1629-1691), c. 1669
canvas, oil paint 59 x 46 cm
topside (positional attribute) : MARTINUS TROMP CL / BATAVICÆ PRÆFE
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

Pieter Nason
Portrait of a woman, possibly Sophia Amalia van Nassau-Siegen (1650-1688), c. 1667-1669
canvas, oil paint 123 x 101 cm
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti)

attributed to Jan de Baen
Portrait of a woman, possibly from the van Wassenaer family, c. 1668
canvas, oil paint 115 x 92.5 cm
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti)

attributed to Jan de Baen
Portrait of a woman, possibly from the Van Wassenaer family, c. 1668
canvas, oil paint 115 x 92.5 cm
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti)

It can be assumed that Jan de Baen (1633-1702) was commissioned to take portraits of the Dutch society ladies for Cosimo. He had already painted the Grand Duke during his stay in The Hague. On that occasion the artist had made him a gift of a self-portrait, for which he was granted the sum of 100 ducats. In Houbraken’s time this self-portrait was still in Florence.40 The Grand Duke was particularly fond of artists’ self-portraits.41 As the years passed he embellished his collection with the portraits of Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670) [33], Eglon van der Neer (1635/6-1703) [34], Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705), Gerard de Lairesse (1641-1711), Rembrandt, Philips Koninck (1619-1688) [35], Gerard Dou (1613-1675), Carel de Moor II (1655-1738), Frans van Mieris I (1635-1681) [36], Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) [37], Gerard ter Borch II and Godfried Schalcken (1643-1706) [38].42 Cosimo III will undoubtedly have acquired some of them during his stay in Holland, such as the self-portraits of van der Helst and Koninck, which are dated 1667. It is evident from an exchange of letters that Cosimo preferred a certain type of portrayal: the artist holding a little painting in his hand, as is clear from the portraits of Adriaen van der Werff, Eglon van der Neer, Frans van Mieris and Bartholomeus van der Helst, for example. Other consignments from the Prince of Orange will have enlarged the collection between 1677 and 1684.43

Bartholomeus van der Helst
Self portrait of Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670), dated 1667
canvas, oil paint 85 x 76 cm
lower right : Dit is / B. van der / helst / fecit / 1667
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, no. 1683

Eglon van der Neer
Self portrait of Eglon van der Neer (1634-1703), dated 1696
canvas, oil paint 105 x 73.5 cm
lower right : Eglon Hendric Van der Neer F. / 1696
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1872

Philips Koninck
Self-portrait of Philips Koninck (1619-1688), 1667?
canvas, oil paint 96 x 72 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, no. 1885

Frans van Mieris (I)
Self-portrait of Frans van Mieris I (1635-1681), c. 1677
canvas, oil paint 71.5 x 57 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1876

Adriaen van der Werff
Self-portrait of the artist with a double portrait of his wife Margaretha van Rees (1669-1732) and their daughter Maria (1692-1731), dated 1697
canvas, oil paint 89 x 73 cm
location unknown : Adr.ⁿ vandr Werff fec. An° 1697
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 971

Godefridus Schalcken
Self portrait of Godefridus Schalcken (1643-1706) with candlelight, dated 1695
canvas, oil paint 92.3 x 81 cm
lower left : Schalcken 1695
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1878

studio of Rembrandt
Portrait of Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1655
canvas, oil paint 69 x 59 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ cat. 1890, no. 1864; cat. 1989, no. 69.236

Cosimo III also visited Rembrandt (1606-1669) during his trip to HollandHollHoHoll. Since the artist had nothing in his studio that was of interest to the Grand Duke, his guide Pieter Blaeu (1637-1706) took him to various patricians and collectors who owned works by Rembrandt.44 Cosimo may have acquired one of the two Florentine self-portraits in the course of this journey (Hofstede de Groot no. 539) [39].45 The other self-portrait dating to the 1660s (Hofstede de Groot no. 540) [40] had been purchased by Cardinal Leopold de’ Medici (1617-1675) during the painter’s lifetime and was described in the 1675 inventory of his estate. A third, late painting by Rembrandt Old Man with His Hands Folded (Hofstede de Groot no. 380) [41] must have been sent to Florence shortly after its completion. It was in the possession of Cosimo’s father, Ferdinand II, and was first listed in an inventory in 1698.46 This splendid collection does not seem to have been accessible to many people. Even Filippo Baldinucci from Florence knew only one of the Rembrandt paintings it contained.

Self Portrait, c. 1669
canvas, oil paint 71 x 54.2 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 69.232

Old man in an armchair, c. 1665
canvas, oil paint 104 x 86 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 69.234

Gerard Dou
Self-portrait, dated 1658
panel, oil paint 49.2 x 33.9 cm
lower center : GDOV. 1658.
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1882; A311 (Berti/Caneva 1979)

The work of the fijnschilders (fine painters) played a major role at the Medici court just as it did at every other 17th-century court. The agent Guasconi had to pay 800 guilders in Leiden in 1676 for Gerard Dou’s Self-Portrait (Hofstede de Groot no. 270) [42] after another one had slipped his grasp, the owner in Antwerp having quickly sold it to a French middleman.47 Gradually paintings of different scenes came into the Grand Duke’s possession (Hofstede de Groot nos. 126, 150, 257) [43-45], all of them works with candlelight illumination which had been popular in Florence since Honthorst’s day. Cosimo was so interested in the artist that he visited Dou’s studio in Leiden.48 Here Cosimo may well have acquired Pieter van Slingelandt’s Soap Bubbles painted in 1661 (Hofstede de Groot no. 123).49

Pieter van Slingelandt
Children blowing bubbles, dated 1661
panel, oil paint 20 x 15.7 cm
lower center : P. Slinghelandt 1661
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1208

Frans van Mieris (I)
An old couple at their meal, c. 1650-1655
panel, oil paint 36 x 31.4 cm
bottom, in the middle :
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

Gerard Dou
The evening school, c. 1660
panel, oil paint 45.9 x 36.4 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

It can be assumed that he bought or at least ordered a series of genre paintings in the course of his travels. He possessed two superb paintings by Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) (Hofstede de Groot nos. 147, 181) [46-47], as many as five by Caspar Netscher (1635/5-1684) (Hofstede de Groot nos. 22, 53 [from 1664], 63, 114 [from 1668], 462) [48-52]50 and, in addition to the already mentioned self-portrait, five others by Godfried Schalcken (Hofstede de Groot nos. 40, 178, 194, 206, 220) [53-57].51

Gabriel Metsu
Woman tuning a cittern and a boy playing with a dog, c. 1657-1659
panel, oil paint 31 x 27.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, n. 1238

Gabriel Metsu
Hunter and young woman in a distinguished interior, c. 1658-1660
panel, oil paint 58 x 52.3 cm
location unknown :
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ N. 1296

Caspar Netscher
Self portrait with wife and childeren, dated 1664
canvas on panel, oil paint 46 x 41 cm
lower left : CNetscher fecit 1664 [CN ineen]
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1272

Caspar Netscher
Young woman scouring a kettle, dated 1664
canvas on panel, oil paint 30.5 x 22.5 cm
bottom left of the middle : CNetscher 1664
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1288

Caspar Netscher
Young woman winding up a watch by candlelight, c. 1665
panel, oil paint 21.6 x 17.9 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1189

Caspar Netscher
Lady playing the Lute, dated 1668
panel, oil paint 43.4 x 34.7 cm
lower left : C.Netscher fe 1668
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1280

Caspar Netscher
The offering to Venus, c. 1668-1669
panel, oil paint 44.8 x 37.5 cm
on the back : Nestcher
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1271

Godefridus Schalcken
A young woman with a burning candle, c. 1695-1698
canvas, oil paint 61 x 50 cm
lower left : G. Schalcken
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, inv./ 1118

Godefridus Schalcken
Allegory of Fame, 1703
canvas, oil paint 69.5 x 60 cm
lower left : G. Schalcken
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1192

possibly after Gerard Dou
Young woman in an interior sewing by candlelight, second half 17th century
panel, oil paint 44 x 34 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1255

Godefridus Schalcken
The lamentation of Christ, 1703
panel, oil paint 53 x 36 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1292

after Godefridus Schalcken
Man inspecting a bust of a woman by candlelight, after 1670
panel, oil paint 44 x 37 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1122

possibly Caspar Netscher after Gerard ter Borch (II)
Interior with drinking woman and sleeping soldier, c. 1660-1670
canvas, oil paint 37.8 x 34.3 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890 / no. 1281

The Grand Duke was out of luck when it came to ter Borch, however. A small self-portrait was sent to him in 1676 but it was damaged on arrival and never seems to have been included in the collection. Cosimo would very much have liked to have a larger self-portrait, whose size, material (canvas), composition (the painter holding a little picture in his hand) and price he prescribed in exact terms, as was his wont. The artist painted the portrait to the specifications but insisted for too long on the high price he was asking for it. When he finally backed down, Florence was no longer interested.52 Hence all that can be seen in Florence today is A Woman Drinking and a Soldier Asleep (Hofstede de Groot no. 79, many replicas) [58]. Nothing is known about its acquisition, however.53

Difficulties of a different kind arose with Frans van Mieris I (1635-1681). Cosimo had visited the painter during both his trips and at the end of June 1669 collected the pictures he had ordered during his first visit. When in Leiden he also inspected the collection of Cornelis Paets, who was the patron of Frans van Mieris. There he saw a genre painting for which he offered 3,000 guilders but to no avail. Of the eight pictures now in the Uffizi Gallery The Quack (an early work; Hofstede de Groot no. 33) [59] could have been acquired on Cosimo’s first journey and perhaps also The Soldier and the Serving Girl (Hofstede de Groot no. 94) [60]. Cosimo will have taken The Young Beauty [61] with him on his second journey. Its companion piece The Old Lover (Hofstede de Groot 223; according to Mieris it depicts the lovesick Brederode) [62] was only shipped in 1674 by way of ‘compensation’, because the Music Scene (Hofstede de Groot no. 171) [63], which the artist had been commissioned to paint in 1672, was still not finished. Many letters were sent back and forth between the Grand Ducal Court and Guasconi, the resident agent in Amsterdam. After repeated admonitions and warnings and a few advances the painting was finally finished in 1675 and dispatched to Florence. All told, Mieris received 2,600 guilders for his efforts! The self-portraits were finished more rapidly. The small one arrived in 1675/6 (Hofstede de Groot no. 242 or 243) [64] and the large one a year later [see above]. Its composition, size and material had been specified in advance so that it would fit into the portrait gallery (Hofstede de Groot no. 241). But when the Grand Duke asked Mieris for a painting of the miraculous deeds performed by St. Francis Xavier in Asia, for which the artist was permitted to use engravings as models, the artist declined the honourable commission because, as he said, he could only paint what he had seen in reality and that did not include any Japanese, Moluccans, etc.54

Frans van Mieris (I)
The quack, c. 1653-1655
panel, oil paint 45 x 36 cm
lower left : F V Mieris
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1174

Frans van Mieris (I)
A young man with an empty glass, and a woman with a jug, 1670-1683
panel, oil paint 25.8 x 19.6 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, n. 1277

Frans van Mieris (I)
Sleeping courtisan, 1661-1669
copper, oil paint 27.5 x 22.5 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, n. 1263

Frans van Mieris (I)
An old man trying to seduce a young woman, 1673
panel, oil paint 28.4 x 22.6 cm
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1890, n. 1275

Frans van Mieris (I)
Elegant company in an interior, dated 1675
panel, oil paint 51.8 x 40.2 cm
left center : F. van Mieris Fecit. 1675.
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ P 1305

Frans van Mieris (I)
Self Portrait of Frans van Mieris I (1635-1681), 1676 (dated)
panel, oil paint 22.2 x 16 cm
location unknown : F. van Mieris f. 1676
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

The paintings by Knight Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) in Cosimo’s possession were probably mostly gifts from his son-in-law Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatinate, for whom the painter worked. These gifts were all the more remarkable in that Solomon’s Judgment (Hofstede de Groot no. 26) (fig. 54) [65] and a portrait of the Elector (or only the copies by Douwen which are still there today?) were the very first paintings van der Werff delivered to Düsseldorf (for the modest sum of 3,000 guilders!). The self-portrait of the artist will have arrived some time later, since it is described in the oldest catalogue of the Düsseldorf Gallery compiled by Karsch (Hofstede de Groot no. 174) [37]. Apart from these works a number of other paintings made their way directly or indirectly via Düsseldorf to Florence.55 The four paintings by Eglon van der Neer probably also came from Düsseldorf. These were a self-portrait (Hofstede de Groot no. 120) [34], an Esther and Ahassuerus and two small landscapes from 1697 (Hofstede de Groot nos. 120 and 169) [66-69].56

Adriaen van der Werff
Solomon gives verdict; he commands a soldier to divide the living child in two; the true mother objects to Solomon's verdict (1 Kings 3:25-27, dated 1697
panel, oil paint 70.5 x 53 cm
on the back : Adriano Vander Verff di Rotterdam 1697
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1777

Eglon van der Neer
Esther swoons in front of Ahassuerus (Esther Apocryphia 15:7), dated 1696
canvas, oil paint 70.5 x 54 cm
lower left : Eglon Hendrick van der Neer fec. 1696
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1186

Eglon van der Neer
Pastoral landscape, dated 1696
panel, oil paint 28 x 41 cm
lower center : Van der Neer 1696
Florence, Palazzo Pitti

Eglon van der Neer
Landscape with washerwomen, dated 1697
panel, oil paint 28 x 41 cm
lower right : Egl: vander Neer fe. 1697
Florence, Palazzo Pitti

To round things off, mention must be made of a few pictures which might not have been expected to be in the collection. In 1668, Cosimo visited the Amsterdam studio of Willem van de Velde I (c. 1611-1693), from whom he later acquired many paintings through the good services of Pieter Blaeu. Some of these acquisitions can be traced in the inventories of the Medici collection; they include the great grisaille painting from 1655 [=1665] first mentioned in the inventory of 1688 [=1687]. The real admirer of van de Velde, however, was Cosimo’s uncle, the aforementioned Cardinal Leopold.57 In 1672, Blaeu and Feroni helped him secure possession of The Surrender of the Royal Prince, a large painting for which van de Velde supplied detailed explanatory notes. The receipt for the sum of 500 guilders has also been preserved. The painting [70-71] found its way by inheritance into the Chigi Collection in Rome, where it remains to this day.58 Three smaller paintings arrived in Florence at the same time. After the two artists [Willem van de Velde the Elder and Willem van de Velde the Younger] moved to London it proved more difficult to obtain paintings from them. By a fortunate coincidence Blaeu was able to acquire a painting for Florence in 1674.59 Ludolf Bakhuizen’s (1630-1708) name is also mentioned in the correspondence: Leopold had seen a painting in Florence which cost 900 guilders. This was probably the picture of 1667 which Houbraken also mentions and is now in the Pitti Gallery [72].60

Willem van de Velde (I)
The conquest of the Royal Prince during the four-day battle in 1666, dated 1672
canvas, oil paint 109 x 146.5 cm
lower left : W. V. Velde 1672 / oudt. 61 Jaren .
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, inv./ 2772

Willem van de Velde (I)
the Dutch battle fleet prepared to set sail for the Medway and Sheerness in 1667, dated 1672
panel, white oil paint, pen and brush in black and grey 112 x 203 cm
lower right : W. V. Velde f 1672
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 1911, nr. 328

Ludolf Bakhuizen
Ships in a storm, dated 1667
canvas, oil paint 65 x 79 cm
lower left : LB 1667
Florence, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), inv./ 464 (1913)

In 1668 Cosimo acquired a souvenir of Amsterdam: a view of the town hall painted by Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) which the artist had just completed (dated 1667, Hofstede de Groot no. 12) [73].61 Its perspective was flawed and in order to correct the error the painter attached a lens to the frame through which the picture could be viewed.62 Later Francesco Feroni acted as an intermediary in an attempt to purchase a different painting but his endeavours proved in vain.

The works of art owned by the Medici have kept us in Florence for quite some time. Theirs was one of the foremost collections of Dutch art compiled during the 17th century in Italy, despite the fact that Dutch artists played no significant role in Florence itself. We can add here that Dirck Helmbreeker (1633-1696) spent two or three years in Florence during his repeated travels throughout Italy [74-75]. He was a guest of Carlo Ughi (1634-1705),63 whose sons were amateur painters. Baldinucci, who knew the artist well, described many of Helmbreker’s genre paintings in this and other Florentine collections.64 Less information is available on other Dutchmen working in Florence. Nothing is known of the works Cornelis de Man (1621-1706)65 produced here between 1652 and 1655 or of the endeavours of Salomon Rombouts (1655-1700/2), who was in the city in 1690.66 Hendrick Verschuring (1627-1690) is also said to have travelled to Rome via Florence and there will no doubt have been other artists who passed through without leaving any visible traces of their activity.

Jan van der Heyden and attributed to Adriaen van de Velde
View on the Town hall of Amsterdam, dated 1667
canvas, oil paint 85 x 92 cm
left : Jan van der Heyde. f. Ao 1667
Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi, inv./ 1211

Dirck Helmbreeker
The Quacksalver, 1660s
canvas, oil paint 59 x 73 cm
Kassel (Hessen), Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, inv./ GK 329

Dirck Helmbreeker
Landscape with peasants harvesting grapes, 1680s
canvas, oil paint 61.2 x 98.5 cm
Sotheby's (London (England)) 2017-12-06 - 2017-12-07, nr. 173


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] See however the remark below on p. 181 [= the same section]. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On the relations between Tuscany and the the Dutch Republic: Van Veen/McCormick 1985.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Cosimo visited many artists in the Dutch Republic in their studios, which were his favorite meeting places with diplomats. Hoogewerff published and introduced reports about both trips (Hoogewerff 1919). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Wagenaar 2014.

3 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Guasconi: Van Vugt 2014.

4 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Feroni and his collection: Caneva 1998; Cools 2006.

5 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Casciu/Branca 2006-2007.

6 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Giovanni Biliverti, who was born in Florence on 25 August 1585: Contini 1985.

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] Fokker 1928; Fokker 1931; Orbaan 1927. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Fock 1975; Van der Sman/Wierda 2013, p. 182-184.

8 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Mancini 1617-1621/1956-1957, vol. 1, p. 258 seems to suggest that the Merry Company with a Lute Player was specifically made for Cosimo II de’ Medici, but it is likely that Antonio Tempesta played the role of intermediary (Papi 1991, p. 209-210, note 17).

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hoogewerff 1924, p. 7-8. As late as the end of the 18th century (or even later?) Honthorst’s Adoration of the Christ Child was copied by Thomasso Gazzarini (Thorvaldson Museum, Copenhagen, no. 82). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Gazzarini made not a copy, but used the model freely and in reverse (RKDimages 295763); the work is dated 1822. For the lively description by Mancini of the original painting: Mancini 1617-1621/1956-1957, vol. 1, p. 258.

10 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Honthorst’s stay in Florence is not documented, but it is highly likely that he seized the opportunity to meet his Florentine patron Piero Guicciardini or some of his family members after the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds had been sent from Rome to Florence. See also the following note.

11 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The painting was heavily damaged in the Mafia car-bomb attack in May 1993. For the payments concerning this major commission: Corti 1989, p. 131 (50 scudi on 8 October 1519 and the remaining 200 scudi on 9 April 1620, before the shipping of the canvas from Rome to Florence).

12 [Gerson 1942/1983] Orbaan 1926, p. 286-287. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Orbaan misread the date of the documents concerning these works. The letters date from 1620 and are part of the correspondence between Andrea Cioli, Secretary of Cosimo II de’ Medici, and Piero Guicciardini, who died in 1626 (Chiarini 1989, p. 190).

13 [Gerson 1942/1983] Reference of Vitale Bloch.

14 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Compare Sandrart 1675, vol. 2, p. 370 (in the biography of Jacques Callot).

15 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Poelenburch probably worked at the court of Cosimo II in 1620-1621; he went back to Rome when Cosimo II died in February 1622 (Sluijter-Seijffert 2016, p. 21-22). This means that he did not linger in Florence on his way back to the north, which Gerson seems to suggest here. For the contact between Poelenburch and Callot in Florence: Sandrart 1675, vol. 2, p. 370.

16 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] There are 29 paintings by Poelenburch in the Uffizi or Palazzo Pitti (all to be found in RKDimages), among others a series of saints, each only about 10 by 7 cm. Most of the 29 indeed are thought to have been made in Florence.

17 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On van Schrieck: Seelig 2017-2018.

18 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] This phrase is an over-simplification: Houbraken writes that Hendrik de Graauw traveled with Matthias Withoos (Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 1, p. 189-191) and at another place that Otto Marseus van Schrieck travelled with Matthias Withoos (idem, vol. 2, p. 186-189), but this does not mean that they travelled together as a threesome.

19 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On van Aelst: Paul/Clifton et al. 2012.

20 [Gerson 1942/1983] Geisenheimer 1911. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Mascalchi 1984.

21 [Gerson 1942/1983] According to Houbraken Otto (Marseus) and Matthias (Withoos) returned home in 1650, after a two-year stay in Italy. This cannot be correct, because Samuel van Hoogstraten still met Marseus in Rome in 1652 (Van Hoogstraten 1976, p. 169). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] It is likely that Marseus stayed in Italy until the early 1660s; his works do not appear in Dutch inventories before 1662 and he was only documented in Amsterdam in 1663 (Seelig 2017-2018, p. 32-35). Van Aelst’s career in Italy took an unexpected turn after he had a fight with a Frenchman in Rome in January 1654, in which the latter almost got killed. He had to leave Rome to avoid being imprisoned. In March 1656 he was in Venice, on his way home (T. Paul in Paul/Clifton et al. 2012, p. 17).

22 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On van Aelst’s Italian period: Paul 2008, p. 64-81.

23 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Van Aelst painted at least 14 still lifes for his Medici patrons in Florence (Paul/Clifton et al. 2017-2018, p. 71). Eight of them are still in the Galleria Palatina in Florence (all in RKDimages).

24 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hoogewerff 1919, p. XXVIII, 48, 65, 79, 284. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Maria van Oosterwijck’s Still-life with Flowers, Fruits and Insects bears the date A o 167. (last digit unclear). It almost certainly entered the Medici collection at a later stage, possibly in the course of the 18th century (Chiarini 1989, p. 398-399).

25 [Gerson 1942/1983] Von Uffenbach 1753-1754, vol. 3, p. 627. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] These pictures, one of which dated 1711, were sent from Düsseldorf to Florence in 1715 as a gift from Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, to his father-in-law Cosimo III (Chiarini 1989, p. 504).

26 [Gerson 1942/1983] Strictly speaking, Jan Frans van Douven from the Spanish-Flemish Roermond does not belong to Dutch art history; however, he fits in very well with the Dutch fine painters, whom we will encounter at the Düsseldorf court. Compare also Maasgouw 1898. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Douven’s activity in Germany: Gerson/van Leeuwen 2017-2018, esp. § 3.4 . On his works in Florentine collections and his relationship with the Medici court: Chiarini 1989, p. 115-147.

27 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Anna Maria Luisa: Casciu/Branca 2006-2007, Wolf 2015.

28 [Gerson 1942/1983] Rusconi 1911, image on p. 8.

29 [Gerson 1942/1983] Some of them are copies after Adriaen van der Werff.

30 [Gerson 1942/1983] Magnin 1922, no. 146.

31 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Compare xxx. According to Van Gool, vol. 2, p. 467-468, Jacobus de Baen junior painted several portraits for the court (unidentified) and contributed to the realisation of a large fresco.

32 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] For the account of his death in Rome, written by Erasmus Causse (1660-1738): De Bethune 1905.

33 [Gerson 1942.1983] Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach saw in 1710 in The Hague Achelom’s collection of Italian drawings at the house of Achelom’s nephew, a catholic priest, who had inherited them (Von Uffenbach 1753-1754, vol. 3, p. 369-372). [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On van Achelom: Verhave/Verhave 2015.

34 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 3, p. 303, vol. 2, p. 263.

35 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Gerson derived this (mis)information from von Wurzbach, who wrongly identified the painter N. Alemans from Brussels, extensively described by Weyerman, with the Rotterdam Thomas Hal[l]eman. Alemans is the one who went to Florence and Rome at a young age (Von Wurzbach 1906-1910, vol. 1, p. 634; Weyerman 1729-1769, vol. 3, p. 317-327).

36 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Vercruys: Löffler 2000.

37 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Cosimo met the widow and three daughters of admiral Maerten Tromp in Delft in 1669. The painting in the Uffizi is clearly a partial copy after the portrait recently acquired by the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam (RKDimages 295778). The inscription on the Uffizi copy (‘MARTINUS TROMP’) is erroneous; the sitter is Cornelis Tromp.

38 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hoogewerff 1919, p. xv-xvi; Jaarverslag Nederlandsch Historisch Instituut te Rome 1918.

39 [Gerson 1942/1983] De Jongh 1878, p. 213; here wrongly connected to a trip by Ferdinand.

40 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 306.

41 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Langedijk 1982.

42 [Gerson 1942/1983] Compare Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 1, p. 269-270.

43 [Gerson 1942/1983] De Jongh 1878, p. 232-233. The Dutch had every reason to be grateful to the Florentine court, as Ferdinand II gave them all sorts of liberties in the port of Livorno. His son Cosimo III was therefore received magnificently in the Dutch Republic.

44 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hoogewerff 1919, p. 67. The visit to Rembrandt took place on 29 December 1667.

45 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] First mentioned in an inventory (dated 1702-1710) of the collection of Gran Principe Ferdinando, son of Cosimo III de’ Medici.

46 [Gerson 1942/1983] Ricci 1918, p. 53. The self-portrait in Palazzo Pitti of 1634 (Hofstede de Groot 538) only arrived in the collection in 1818. In the 18th century it belonged to the Gerini family. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] RKDimages 30448).

47 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Chiarini 1989, p. 110.

48 [Gerson 1942/1983] De Jongh 1879, p. 232; Hoogewerff 1919, p. 257. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] RKDimages 255744 (Hofstede de Groot 150), although inspired by Gerard Dou, is a work by Frans van Mieris I.

49 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The date of acquisition is unknown. Sent by Gran Principe Ferdinando from the Galleria degli Uffizi to the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano in May 1700 (Chiarini 1989, p. 527).

50 [Gerson 1942/1983] The not very trustworthy Weyerman reports that during a ‘tour’ in Rome a Diana and Callisto was exhibited, which was greatly admired (Weyerman 1729-1769, vol. 4, p. 139).

51 Leeuwen/Sman 2019] For the provenance of (and early archival references to) these pictures: Chiarini 1989, p. 298-303, 511-523.

52 [Gerson 1942/1983] Geisenheimer 1911, p. 57. De Jongh 1878, p. 214, De Jongh 1879, p. 232.

53 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Now considered a copy after ter Borch. First mentioned in an inventory of 1704 (Chiarini 1989, p. 60).

54 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 1, p. 269, vol. 3, p. 4-5; Hoogewerff 1919, p. 251, 257; De Jongh 1878, p. 212-214; De Jongh 1879, p. 232; Geisenheimer 1911, p. 51-57. [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Chiarini 1989, p. 307-327.

55 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Chiarini 1989, p. 565-573.

56 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Chiarini 1989, p. 372-378.

57 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Conticelli/Gennaioli/Sframeli 2017-2018, p. 338.

58 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Since 1985 in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe.

59 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On the purchases of paintings by van de Velde for Florence: Langedijk 1961.

60 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 240; Geisenheimer 1911, p. 51; Hofstede de Groot et al. 1907-1928, no. 202: acquired only in 1823.

61 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] The acquisition of this painting on 5 January 1668 is explicitely mentioned in the account of Cosimo’s voyage to the Netherlands (Hoogewerff 1919, p. 82).

62 [Gerson 1942/1983] As Feroni reported to Florence in 1672. Would it not be more likely that van der Heyden deliberately painted a perspective tour de force which looked distorted ‘in reality’, but correct through the lense, in order to impress someone like Cosimo? (De Jongh 1979, p. 226; Geisenheimer 1911, p. 41-42; Hoogewerff 1919, p. XXVIII).

63 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] On Ughi’s collection: Corti 1980.

64 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Baldinucci 1845-1847/1974-1975, vol. 5, p. 504-525.

65 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] As de Man was documented again in Delft in 1654, this must have been earlier. Houbraken states that he lingered in Florence for two years with a rich patron before he went to Rome (Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 99-100). Therefore an earlier stay in Florence in the late 1640s is more plausible.

66 [Leeuwen/Sman 2019] Compare Van Thiel-Stroman 2008, p. 281 with reference to a notarial deed drawn up on 18 August 1590 in Haarlem. A certain Nicolaes (Giovan Nicola) Rombouts ‘pittore fiammingo di paesi...’ was employed by Marquis Giovan Vincenzo Salviati from 1689 to 1692 (Pinchera 2002, p. 643-644). He is recorded as a member of the Florentine Accademia del Disegno between 1692 and 1697 (Zangheri 2000, p. 277). We have not been able to consult the contract between G.F. Salviati and N. Rombouts (Archivio Salviati, filza 41, tomo, fasc. I) which may contain additional biographical information.

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