Gerson Digital : Germany I


5.1 Painters from the Netherlands in Frankfurt

Frankfurt am Main became the sanctuary of many Flemings, who had to leave their homeland because of their faith.1 They also settled in the neighbouring Hanau and in the Palatine, Frankenthal. In Hanau, production of ceramics developed and in Frankenthal a Dutch school of landscape painting. Gradually also Northern Netherlandish artists came there, many of them only temporarily on their way to the south. Others went to the coronation of the emperor in Frankfurt in 1658, hoping to receive commissions for portraits (Wallerant Vaillant, Pieter Donker).2 One of these volatile visitors was David Bailly, who came from Hamburg in 1608 and then travelled through Nuremberg, Augsburg and Tirol to Venice and Rome.3 Jean Vaillant II (1627-1675), whose family came from Lille, possibly travelled to Frankfurt in 1658 with his brothers Wallerant and Bernard.4 However, he quit painting and became a merchant. Willem Schellinks (1627-1678) met him in nearby Frankenthal in 1665.5

Although these few examples only concern passing travelers, those wandering journeymen still contributed somewhat to the dispersal of Dutch art. Several Frankfurtian artists went to the Netherlands to have a look around. Let’s stick to the portrait painters first. Jeremias van Winghe (1578-1645), who was born in Brussels but migrated with his father to Frankfurt, finished his training in Antwerp and Italy before he finally settled in Frankfurt in 1608. 6 The portraits he painted in Frankfurt [1-3] are however executed in a good Dutch manner; they can best be compared to works by Dirck Dircksz. Santvoort (1609-1680).

Jeremias van Winghe
Portrait of Sebastiaan de Neufville (1545-1609), dated 1605
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
upper left : Jer. van Winghen pinx.
Whereabouts unknown

Jeremias van Winghe
Portrait of Jakob von Hensberg, jeweler in Frankfurt am Main, dated 1644
canvas, oil paint 121 x 95 cm
center right : ÆT/s·65·I·A·V·W·F·AO·1644
Darmstadt (Germany), Hessisches Landesmuseum (Darmstadt), inv./ D 2.244

Jeremias van Winghe
Portrait of Johann Maximilian zum Jungen (1596-1649), dated 1642
copper, oil paint 57,4 x 44,2 cm
upper right : I·A·W·FE· A°·MDCXLII
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv./ 1760

Matthäus Merian (II)
Portrait of Field Marshal Count Hans Christoffer von Königsmarck (1600-1663), dated 1651
canvas, oil paint 114,5 x 90 cm
on the back : Matth. Merian Junior Fecit Ao 1651
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott

Joachim von Sandrart I (1606-1688), who owed his training to Gerard van Honthorst, repeatedly stayed in Frankfurt.7 When he went for the second time to the Netherlands in 1637, he took the young Matthäus Merian II along to Amsterdam. But, after receiving a recommendation to Anthony van Dyck from Michel le Blon, Merian travelled on to England. Then he wandered around in France and Italy for a long time, before he finally settled down in Frankfurt in 1650 [4].8 After all this, one cannot expect him to have developed a pure Dutch portrait style; on the contrary, many of his portraits passed on under the name of Van Dyck.9 Nevertheless the portraits of Swedish generals [5], which were probably commissioned by field marshal Wrangel [6], are clearly related to the Dutch type of Gerard van Honthorst and Wybrand de Geest.10 The portrait of Joachim Merian, that probably originated later, is done in the style of Caspar Netscher (Senckenbergische Stiftung) [7].11

Matthäus Merian (II)
Self-portrait of Matthäus Merian II (1621-1687) with a head of Seneca, c. 1645-1646
canvas, oil paint 111 x 94,7 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Matthäus Merian (II)
Portrait of Count Carl Gustav Wrangel (1613-1676), dated 1652
canvas, oil paint 111 x 90 cm
verso : ... 1652
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, inv./ NMGrh 1870

Anoniem Duitsland
Portrait of Joachim Merian (1635-1701)
canvas, oil paint 105 x 86 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Senckenbergische Stiftung

As is known, Merian was born in Switzerland, and even before he returned to Frankfurt from his journey in France, his compatriot Samuel Hofmann (c. 1595-1649), who also visited Holland [8], settled here in 1638 [9].12 We have to keep in mind these mutual relationships between France and Switzerland, because they still play an important role in the 18th century. Samuel Hofmann’s daughter Magdelena (1633-1688)13 went with her mother to Amsterdam after her father’s death, where she painted portraits and flowers.

The German Jakob Christof Le Blon (1667-1741) took the reverse route from Frankfurt to Zürich, where he learned from Conrad Meyer (1618-1689). In 170514 we find him in Amsterdam [10-11] and later he was in England and France. His Dutch training will have had little impact on his homeland.

Samuel Hofmann
Portrait of Willem Baudartius (1566-1640) protestant pastor in Kampen since 1593, dated 1616
panel, oil paint 94 x 71 cm
upper left : AETATIS . 50 . ANNO .
Sotheby's (London (England)) 1999-12-16, nr. 366

Samuel Hofmann
Portrait of a woman, dated 1636
panel (oak), oil paint 122.4 x 90 cm
upper left : Anno 1636
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv./ 296

Jakob Christof Le Blon
Portrait of Adriaan van Loon (1631-1722), dated 1706
ivory, aquarel paint (watercolor), gouache (material/technique) 42,5 x 42,5 mm
lower right : "LeB[...]"
Amsterdam, Museum Van Loon, inv./ 135-8

Jakob Christof Le Blon
Portrait of Cornelia Hunthum (1634-1721), 1706 (dated)
ivory, aquarel paint (watercolor), gouache (material/technique) 44 x 44 mm
lower left : 'Blon'
Amsterdam, Museum Van Loon, inv./ 135-9

Hüsgen and Gwinner deal with a portrait painter Daniel Thielen (1623-1711) in some detail. His portraits are supposed to be in the style of Rembrandt and appear under his name in the art trade. No such works have occurred thus far [12], and also none of his still-lifes and bird pictures are known today [13-15].15

Daniel Thielen
Portrait of the minister Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705), 1691 (?)
canvas, oil paint 115,5 x 90,5 cm
upper left : PHIL·IAC·SPENER· / TEOL·D·et·MIN·SEN·
Frankfurt am Main, Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv./ HFM.B0191

Daniel Thielen
Still life a nautilus shell cup, lobster and a roemer in a niche, dated 1657
canvas, oil paint 37 x 27 cm
lower right : D. Thielen f[?] 1657
Dessau (Saksen-Anhalt), Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie - Schloss Georgium, inv./ 706, Ast. 494

Daniel Thielen
Still life with dead birds, dated 1686
canvas, oil paint 86 x 70 cm
lower right : Daniel Thielen fec. Å 1686
Dessau (Saksen-Anhalt), Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie - Schloss Georgium, inv./ 843, Ast. 136

Daniel Thielen
Still life of luxuries with dinnerware, lobster, glass tableware, fruits and a parrot on a white tablecloth, dated 16 December 1694
canvas, oil paint 75 x 97,5 cm
location unknown : Daniel Thielen fecit Ao 1694 de 16 Decmb...
Sydney (Australië), The Power Institute of Fine Arts University of Sydney


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] On the history of Franfurt: Hüsgen 1780; Gwinner 1862; Zülch 1935; Back 1932. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Berger et al. 2005.

2 [Van Leeuwen 2017] According to Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 93. No portraits by Donker have surfaced so far.

3 See also § 2.2 and 2.3.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Jean Vaillant was thought to have died c. 1672 in Hanau, but 16 April 1675 he was buried  from a house at the Fluwelen Burgwal in Amsterdam (the house of his brother Wallerant?) at the French or Wallonian Reformed Church, leaving behind under-aged children (Waalsch Gereformeerde Kerk on Vaillant, Jean - 16-04-1675 - Fransch of Waalsch Gereformeerde Kerk - DTB 1130, p.317 -318).

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Travel journal of Willem Schellinks, Copenhagen, vol. III, p. 1303. [Van Leeuwen 2017] The RKD has a copy in its collections.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Zülch 1935, p. 481. [Van Leeuwen 2017] According to Thieme/Becker he was not trained in Antwerp but in Amsterdam, where he was a pupil of Frans Badens (Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 36 (1947), p. 55), a source that obviously was not available to Gerson at the time. Furthermore, he probably was already in Frankfurt in 1605, since there is a 1605 dated portrait of Sebastian de Neufville (1545-1609) from Antwerp who had settled in Frankfurt (RDKimages 127262).

7 [Gerson 1942/1987] On Sandrart, see p. 269 [§ 5.6].

8 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Many details about his life and whereabouts (included in RKDartists&) are documented: Wackernagel 1895, Nieden 2002 and L.H. Wüthrich in Saur 1992-, vol. 89 (2016), p. 148. Merian stayed about two years in Amsterdam and two years in London as well, until the death of Anthony van Dyck. Already in the 1640s he was on and off in Frankfurt.

9 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On attributions of work by Van Dyck and his assistants, in particular Mattäus Merian II: Sanzsalazar 2009.

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Paintings in Gripsholm; images in Granberg 1911-1913, vol. 3 (1913), p. 78. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Several portraits of generals seem of less quality, as if they are copies after originals that might have been painted for the generals themselves. The Portrait of Field Marshal Count Hans Christoffer von Königsmarck in Skokloster (RKDimages 265925) seems closer to Van Dyck’s style.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Biermann 1914, no. 160. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Rejected in Nieden 2002, p. 187, no. 54.

12 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On Hofmann: Helmerking 1928; Schlégl 1967; Schlégl 1980.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson erroneously calls her Susanna. The date of her burial, 24 November 1688, comes from the Ecartico database. No artworks by her hand are known to us.

14 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On 13 February 1705 he married Gerrarda Vloet (1679 – 1716) in Amsterdam (Ecartico). On Jakob Christof Le Blon: Lilien 1985.

15 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hüsgen 1780, p. 90-91, 234, 282; Gwinner, p. 228-229. [Van Leeuwen 2017] There is a portrait by Thielen (which has nothing to do with Rembrandt) of the Frankfurter theologian Philipp Jacob Spener (1635-1705) in the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt (Grosskinsky/Michels et al. 2003, p. 178-180, nos. 28-29, ill.). Two still-lifes in the Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie Dessau, probably from the collection of Henriette Amalie von Anhalt-Dessau;  Apparently Gerson assumes that Thielen was trained in the Netherlands.

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