Tag Archives: 17th-century Netherlandish art

#FineArtFriday: The Baker by Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde, circa 1681

Title: The Baker

Genre: self-portrait

Artist: Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde

Date: 1681

Medium: oil on canvas

Collection: Worcester Art Museum

What I like about this painting:

Berckheyde painted several pictures of bakery shops. These genre paintings of bakeries were popular as a subject for Dutch artists from around 1650.

When I first saw this image, I wondered why our baker is blowing a horn. I discovered that was how some bakers announced the morning’s freshly baked bread.

Like most merchants in 17th century Holland, bakers often worked out of their own homes. However, their ovens were well-known fire threats. Entire cities would go up in a raging conflagration that no one could out run or stop, often burning for days. For this reason, many neighbors didn’t really want a baker going into business next door to them.

To minimize the fire risk, some towns and cities required bakers to live and do business in stone buildings. This law explains the artist’s rather monumental choice of architecture as the background for The Baker. It looks the the entrance to a cathedral.

Berckheyde chose to make this a self-portrait. I like this decision, for he was honest in how he presented himself, He is not too handsome, but is surrounded by a wide, tempting assortment of goods, including pretzels. The wooden rack they’re displayed on would be at home in any bakery shop today.

I would definitely buy my family’s bread from this baker.


About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

Job Berckheyde, baptized 27 January 1630 and died 23 November 1693, was born in Haarlem and was the older brother of the painter Gerrit who he later taught to paint.

He was apprenticed on 2 November 1644 to Jacob Willemszoon de Wet. His master’s influence is apparent in his first dated canvas, “Christ Preaching to the Children” (1661), one of his few biblical scenes.

Golden-age historian Arnold Houbraken claimed that Job had been trained as a bookbinder by his father, and could not discover who taught him to paint.

What is not in doubt is that Gerrit learned from his older brother. Job’s teacher must have been a Haarlem master, and some claim it was Frans Hals, but Houbraken claimed he travelled as a journeyman between Leiden and Utrecht offering his services as a portrait painter and learned by doing.

During the 1650s the two brothers, Job and Gerrit, made an extended trip along the Rhine to Germany, stopping off at Cologne, Bonn, Mannheim and finally Heidelberg, following the example of their fellow guild member Vincent van der Vinne.

The brothers worked in Heidelberg for Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine (with Job producing portraits and hunting scenes, and receiving a gold chain from the Elector in reward) but were ultimately unable to adapt to court life and so returned to Haarlem, where they shared a house and perhaps a studio.

He became a member of the Haarlem rederijkersgilde ‘De Wijngaardranken’ in 1666–1682. He is registered in Amsterdam 1682–1688, where he became a member of the Guild of St Luke there in 1685–1688. Berckheyde was buried in Haarlem.

He could paint landscapes in the same style as his brother, but seems to have preferred interiors and genre works, whereas his brother’s oeuvre consists mostly of outdoor scenes. The Elector’s gold chain may be the one he wears in his early Self-portrait (1655), his only documented work from the 1650s.

Job is better known for his later work, which consists mainly of interior views of the Sint-Bavokerk in Haarlem and simple genre scenes recalling those of his Haarlem contemporaries Adriaen van Ostade and Jan Steen.

Less prolific than his brother, but more varied in his output, Job produced bible and genre scenes as well as cityscapes. Confusion between their works may have resulted from the similarity of their signatures, where Job’s j resembles Gerrit’s g. Job also signed his work with an H (for Hiob or Job) and with the monogram HB.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Berckheyde, Job – The Baker – 1681.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Berckheyde,_Job_-_The_Baker_-_1681.jpg&oldid=463054921 (accessed September 17, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Job_Adriaenszoon_Berckheyde&oldid=947928424 (accessed September 17, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Gerrit Berckheyde,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gerrit_Berckheyde&oldid=933563068 (accessed September 17, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Rhetoricians at a Window by Jan Steen ca. 1666

Artist: Jan Steen  (1625/1626–1679)

Title: Rhetoricians at a Window

Genre: genre art

Date: c. 1661-66

Medium: oil on canvas

English: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 759.46 mm (29.90 in); Width: 586.23 mm (23.07 in)

Collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art

What I love about this painting:

The reading of a poem or play was clearly the opportunity for the performers to have a good time. From the drinker in the shadows of the background to the grapevines growing around the window, Steen tells us that wine and rhetoric are clearly entwined.

I love the inclusion of both “the critic” who leans his head on his hand and listens analytically, and the man behind him, who is clearly “a little over the limit,” and supports himself by grasping the window frame and heartily agreeing with some point.

The reader is clearly enjoying himself, as are the others.

About the Artist (Via Wikipedia):

Jan Havickszoon Steen (c. 1626 – buried 3 February 1679) was a Dutch Golden Age painter, one of the leading genre painters of the 17th century. His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.

Daily life was Jan Steen’s main pictorial theme. Many of the genre scenes he portrayed, as in The Feast of Saint Nicholas, are lively to the point of chaos and lustfulness, even so much that “a Jan Steen household”, meaning a messy scene, became a Dutch proverb (een huishouden van Jan Steen). Subtle hints in his paintings seem to suggest that Steen meant to warn the viewer rather than invite him to copy this behaviour. Many of Steen’s paintings bear references to old Dutch proverbs or literature. He often used members of his family as models, and painted quite a few self-portraits in which he showed no tendency of vanity.

Steen did not shy from other themes: he painted historical, mythological and religious scenes, portraits, still lifes and natural scenes. His portraits of children are famous. He is also well known for his mastery of light and attention to detail, most notably in Persian rugs and other textiles.

Steen was prolific, producing about 800 paintings, of which roughly 350 survive. His work was valued much by contemporaries and as a result he was reasonably well paid for his work. He did not have many students—only Richard Brakenburgh is recorded—but his work proved a source of inspiration for many painters. [2]

About this painting, Via Wikipedia:

Chambers of rhetoric (Dutch: rederijkerskamers) were dramatic societies in the Low Countries. Their members were called Rederijkers (singular Rederijker), from the French word ‘rhétoricien’, and during the 15th and 16th centuries were mainly interested in dramas and lyrics. These societies were closely connected with local civic leaders and their public plays were a form of early public relations for the city. [1]

In 1945, Sturla Gudlaugsson, a specialist in Dutch seventeenth-century painting and iconography and Director of the Netherlands Institute for Art History and the Mauritshuis in The Hague, wrote The Comedians in the work of Jan Steen and his Contemporaries, which revealed that a major influence on Jan Steen’s work was the guild of the Rhetoricians or Rederijkers and their theatrical endeavors.

It is often suggested that Jan Steen’s paintings are a realistic portrayal of Dutch 17th-century life. However, not everything he did was a purely realistic representation of his day-to-day environment. Many of his scenes contain idyllic and bucolic fantasies and a declamatory emphasis redolent of theater.

Jan Steen’s connection to theater is easily verifiable through his connection to the Rederijkers. There are two kinds of evidence for this connection. First, Jan Steen Steen’s uncle belonged to the Rhetoricians in Leiden, where Steen was born and lived a substantial part of his life. Second, Jan Steen portrayed many scenes from the lives of the Rederijkers, an example being the painting Rhetoricians at a Window of 1658–65. The piece is currently held in the Philadelphia Museum of Art which was established in February 1876. The humanity, humor and optimism of the figures suggest that Jan Steen knew these men well and wanted to portray them positively.

With his lavish and moralising style, it is logical that Steen would employ the stratagems from theater for his purposes. There is conclusive evidence that the characters in Steen’s paintings are predominantly theatrical characters and not ones from reality. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Jan Steen,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jan_Steen&oldid=950709901 (accessed September 10, 2020).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Chamber of rhetoric,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chamber_of_rhetoric&oldid=975283829 (accessed September 10, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Jan Steen, Dutch (active Leiden, Haarlem, and The Hague) – Rhetoricians at a Window – Google Art Project.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Jan_Steen,_Dutch_(active_Leiden,_Haarlem,_and_The_Hague)_-_Rhetoricians_at_a_Window_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg&oldid=355150081 (accessed September 10, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: The Huis Kostverloren on the Amstel by Jacob van Ruisdael ca.1660

About the Artist Via Wikipedia:

Ruisdael and his art should not be considered apart from the context of the incredible wealth and significant changes to the land that occurred during the Dutch Golden Age. In his study on 17th-century Dutch art and culture, Simon Schama remarks that “it can never be overemphasized that the period between 1550 and 1650, when the political identity of an independent Netherlands nation was being established, was also a time of dramatic physical alteration of its landscape”. Ruisdael’s depiction of nature and emergent Dutch technology are wrapped up in this. Christopher Joby places Ruisdael in the religious context of the Calvinism of the Dutch Republic. He states that landscape painting does conform to Calvin’s requirement that only what is visible may be depicted in art, and that landscape paintings such as those of Ruisdael have an epistemological value which provides further support for their use within Reformed Churches.

The art historian Yuri Kuznetsov places Ruisdael’s art in the context of the war of independence against Spain. Dutch landscape painters “were called upon to make a portrait of their homeland, twice re-won by the Dutch people – first from the sea and later from foreign invaders”. Jonathan Israel, in his study of the Dutch Republic, calls the period between 1647 and 1672 the third phase of Dutch Golden Age art, in which wealthy merchants wanted large, opulent and refined paintings, and civic leaders filled their town halls with grand displays containing republican messages.

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Artist: Jacob van Ruisdael  (1628/1629–1682)

Title: English: The Huis Kostverloren on the Amstel

Date: between 1660 and 1664

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 63 cm (24.8 ″); Width: 75.5 cm (29.7 ″)

Current Location: Amsterdam Museum


Credits and Attributions:

The Huis Kostverloren on the Amstel by Jacob van Ruisdael [Public domain]

Wikipedia contributors, “Jacob van Ruisdael,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jacob_van_Ruisdael&oldid=905931531 (accessed July 19, 2019).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:SA 38217-Het Huis Kostverloren aan de Amstel2.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:SA_38217-Het_Huis_Kostverloren_aan_de_Amstel2.jpg&oldid=326210473 (accessed July 19, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: The Lamentation by Michiel Sweerts  

Michiel Sweerts:  The Lamentation

Date:   between 1643 and 1661

Medium:          Etching and engraving on paper

Dimensions:    Height: 28.7 cm (11.2 ″); Width: 34.6 cm (13.6 ″)

About the technique of Etching (From Wikipedia):

Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio (incised) in the metal. As a method of printmaking, it is, along with engraving, the most important technique for old master prints, and remains in wide use today.

In traditional pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The artist then scratches off the ground with a pointed etching needle where he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The échoppe, a tool with a slanted oval section, is also used for “swelling” lines. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the mordant (French for “biting”) or etchant, or has acid washed over it. The acid “bites” into the metal (it dissolves part of the metal) where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines.

Etchings were, in the 17th century, the way an artist could ensure his work was seen by the growing middle-class who would otherwise be unable to afford art for their homes. Once an artist mastered the technique, it was the most reliable way to earn money from his work.

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Michiel Sweerts was born in Brussels where he was baptized on 29 September 1618 in the St. Nicholas Church as the son of David Sweerts, a linen merchant, and Martina Ballu.  Little is known about the artist’s early life and nothing about his training.

The surviving works by Sweerts mostly date to the period of his residence in Rome. Due to the difficulty of attributing works to the artist who rarely signed his works the number of canvases given to the artist vary from 40 to 100. Some of Sweerts’ works were so popular in his time that contemporary copies were made, some by Sweerts himself, others by pupils or followers. It is not always easy to determine the level of Sweerts’ involvement (if any) in the making of these copies. For instance, there exist at least four early copies, of varying quality, of his Artist’s studio with a woman sewing (one copy at the Collection RAU – Fondation Unicef, Cologne). None of his paintings produced after he left Europe is known to survive.

The majority of his output falls into two categories: ‘genre scenes” of low-life subjects of country and street life and portraits or tronies. A third category are allegorical works, which are regarded as enigmatic and are the subject of ongoing interpretation by art historians. Sweerts reportedly painted compositions of Biblical subjects, several of which are mentioned in contemporary inventories. However, none of these are known to have survived. One of his religious paintings, a Lamentation is known from the print, which Sweerts himself made after his own painting. The composition is unusual for the Virgin’s comforting gesture towards the inconsolable Mary Magdalene.

Sweerts is an enigmatic and difficult artist to categorise, since he absorbed a variety of influences to create an eclectic style that adapted Netherlandish genre painting to early tenebrist styles as well as blended Baroque and classicist tendencies.

By December 1661 Sweerts had arrived in Marseilles from where his ship left for Palestine in January 1662.  Sweerts sailed for Alexandretta with bishop François Pallu, 7 priests and another lay brother. In Syria he is said to have produced some paintings. On the overland portion of the trip in Syria he became mentally unstable and was dismissed from the company somewhere between Isfahan and Tabriz in Persia. He then traveled on to the Portuguese Jesuits in Goa where he is reported to have died at the age of 46.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Etching,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Etching&oldid=887368691 (accessed March 29, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Michiel Sweerts,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Michiel_Sweerts&oldid=850063690  (accessed March 29, 2019).

Wikimedia contributors, “Michiel Sweerts,”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Michiel_Sweerts_-_The_lamentation.jpg (accessed March 29, 2019)

 

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