Gerson Digital : Germany I


2.6 Artists in Bremen and Lübeck

There is not much to report about artists from Bremen or active in Bremen. The mannerist phase is represented by Hieronymus van der Elst (active 1593-1612) from Middelburg [1]. In Weimar a drawing of 1595 is preserved [2].1 In addition he made some designs for the rebuilding of the Bremer town hall of 1612, for which a Johan Quandt also had been active.2 No works by his hand have survived.

Born in Lemgo, Simon Peter Tilman (1601-1668) went from his hometown Bremen to Utrecht in the years 1639 to 1642,3 where he was involved in the large commission for the series of paintings for the King of Denmark and worked under the leadership of Gerard van Honthorst.4 His paintings look completely Dutch [3-4].5

Hieronymus van der Elst
The shooting at the corpse of the father (Gesta Romanorum, Cap. 45), dated 1593
canvas, oil paint 119 x 180 cm
location unknown : JHeron v der .. ƒt aº 1593
Maastricht, Bonnefantenmuseum

Simon Peter Tilman
The sacrifice of Noah (Genesis 8:20), dated 1641
canvas, oil paint 146 x 227,5 cm
lower center : SPTilman
Utrecht, St. Eloyengasthuis (Utrecht)

Hieronymus van der Elst
Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus, dated 1595
paper, pen (technique), grey wash 277 x 192 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Hieronimus vander elst a° 1595 / im Bremen
Weimar (Thüringen), Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen, inv./ KK 4529

Simon Peter Tilman
Allegory of the transiency, c. 1645
canvas, oil paint 136 x 109 cm
location unknown : SPTilman
Bremen (Germany), Bremer Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte (Focke-Museum), inv./ 56.339

Franz Wulfhagen
The wedding feast at Cana, dated 1660
canvas, oil paint 175 x 218 cm
Bremen (Germany), Bremer Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte (Focke-Museum)

Franz Wulfhagen (1624-1670) is described by Houbraken as a pupil of Rembrandt.6 In his hometown some biblical scenes have been preserved (Kunsthalle7 and Focke-Museum) [5] that confirm this information. Wulfhagen is mainly interested in imitating Rembrandt’s light effects, but the rest of his works are not really noteworthy. Moreover, Dutch paintings were not rare in Bremen. Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734) saw several things in the town hall and in art collections that he noted, among others a hermit [by Rembrandt] in the collection of Professor Bothe. This painting apparently was brought over by General Königsmark from Prague as spoils.8

From the Hanseatic towns we should not forget Lübeck, even if this is only to speak about the brothers Gottfried (1646-1723) and Johann Zacharias Kniller (1644-1702), better known under the name of Kneller. Both of them had been in Holland and returned towards 1668 from Rembrandt’s and Bol’s workshop in their hometown. From there they finally moved to England in 1676. Earlier they were still travelling, for instance in to Venice in 1672, so they did not have much opportunity to spread the art of Rembrandt in Germany [6-7].9 We only know two paintings that were created right after their return in Bremen, in which both painters are still completely working in Rembrandt’s style. An Old scholar [8] by Gottfried Kneller looks like an average quality Ferdinand Bol or Karel van der Pluym.10 Johann Zacharias’ counterpart with a Young scholar [9] is much weaker, a mixture of Bol’s greybeard studies and Wijck’s still-lives with books.11 This Rembrandt manner appears to be soon overcome by new impressions gained in Italy. When we encounter them later in England,12 we cannot address them anymore as artists who were formed in Dutch style.

Gottfried Kneller
Self portrait of Gottfried Kneller (1646-1723), c. 1670
canvas, oil paint 105 x 113,5 cm
lower right : AMERICA SEP TEN / TRIO NA
Private collection

Gottfried Kneller
Young artist working in his studio with a still life of fruit, a lute, a violin and a globe, before 1670
canvas, oil paint 135,4 x 175,4 cm
London, art dealer Rafael Valls Limited

Gottfried Kneller
Old scholar surrounded with vaniats attributes, dated 1668
canvas, oil paint 135 x 172,5 cm
lower right : Gotefredo Kniller.f: A° 1668
Lübeck (Germany), St. Annen-Museum, inv./ 41

Johann Zacharias Kneller
A scholar in his study, dated 1668
canvas, oil paint 132 x 174 cm
location unknown : Johann Zacharias Kniller f. Aº 1668
Lübeck (Germany), St. Annen-Museum, inv./ 42


1 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Van der Beek-Scheffer 1967, fig. 3.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 88 [as Quant]. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Probably identical to a Johan Quant from Groningen who became a citizen in Emden in 1593 (Stracke 1974, p. 24).

3 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Actually, Tilman was longer in Utrecht and visited the town already in 1633. Lange 2011.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson/Van Leeuwen/Roding 2015, § 3.5B and Lange 2011, p. 106-113. RKDimages 275072 and 275073. For the Gerson project, all works of Tilman known to us have been entered in RKDimages; the paintings by Tilman in the Town Hall of Bremen have been photographed by the Vicky Foster of the RKD in February 2017.

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] F.e. The sacrifice of Noah of 1641, St. Eloyengasthuis, Utrecht, in the style of the Utrecht Caravaggists, but weak. Comparable in style: Christ and the money-changers, auction London 21 November 1930, no. 79 [no image retrieved, ed.]; still-life in the style of De Heem, auction Geuljans a.o., Cologne, 5 November 1936, no. 124. [Van Leeuwen 2017] On The sacrifice of Noah of 1641: Huys Janssen 2012, no. 3. The still-life Gerson mentions is now in the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (Lange 2002, fig. 3); meanwhile the painting is registered as a work by the Flemish painter Jan Pauwel Gillemans I by Fred Meijer, RKD. For other works of Tilman, see RKDimages. Several are quite close to Honthorst.

6 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 1, p. 273. On Wulfhagen: Sumowski 1983-1994, vol. 4, p. 2857-2872.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson refers here to a painting with the Liberation of St. Peter which was in the collection catalogue of the Kunsthalle Bremen of 1913 but was sold before 1925 (unknown to whom); no image is known to us (communication D. Hansen, Kunsthalle Bremen, December 2016). Pauli 1913, p. 35, no. 156, panel, 45 x 55 cm, acquired in 1862, described as: ‘In einem dunklen Gewölbe, in dem rechts von einer Hängelampe beleuchtet ein Tor sichtbar wird, sitzt links Petrus mit grauem Vollbart in blauem Gewande und gelben Mantel. Er wendet sich mit ausgebreiteten Armen dem auf Wolken herabschwebenden Engels zu. Rechts vier schlummernde Landsknechte. Unbez.’. Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 36 (1947), p. 303.

8 [Gerson 1942/1983} Von Uffenbach 1753-1754, vol. 2, p. 164-216, esp. p. 212 (‘Unter diesen [Gemälden] war ein schön Stück von Rembrandt, einen Eremiten in der Höhle vorstellend; ein Pferdskopf, so unter den Spoliis des General Köningsmarcs, so er von Prag mitgebracht hatte, gewesen war’).

9 [Van Leeuwen 2017] De Witt/Van Sloten/Van der Veen 2015, passim.

10 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Similar paintings that probably originated shortly after his return to Bremen surfaced on the art market in the last decades.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] In the museum of Lübeck, both signed and dated 1668. Images in Von Lütgendorff 1900, p. 7-8 and Isarlo 1936. Some general remarks on the painting in Lübeck in Riewertz 1936A.

12 {Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson 1942/1983, esp. p. 384-386.

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