Gerson Digital : Germany I


5.3 Still-life and Architectural Painting in Frankfurt

Still-lifes by painters of the older generation such as Georg Flegel (1565/6-1638) [1], Peter Binoit (c. 1590-1632) [2], Isaak Soreau (1604-in or after 1645) [3] and the Monogrammist H [4]1 clearly demonstrate a connection to Flemish art (Ambrosius Bosschaert I and Jan Brueghel I). But already in the next generation the influence of the Northern Netherlands became stronger.

Jacob Marrel (1613/14-1681), a pupil of Georg Flegel, went to Utrecht around 1630 [5], where he was taught by Jan Davidsz de Heem and married in 1641.2 In 1651 he must have been back in Frankfurt [6], where he married for the second time, Johanna Sibylla Merian, the widow of the engraver Mathäus Merian I (1593-1650), who had died a year before. His stepdaughter Maria Sibylla Merian and her future husband Johan Andreas Graff (1637-1701) were among his pupils, as was Abraham Mignon (1640-1679), with whom he went to Utrecht once again in 1664.3 Marrel was not only active as an artist, but also as an art dealer: this means he served the Dutch-German cultural exchange twice over.4

Georg Flegel
Flowers in a niche
panel, oil paint 61 x 44 cm
lower right : GF
New York City, private collection Joseph V. Reed

Peter Binoit
Stil-life with letter pastry, dated 1615 (?)
panel, oil paint 26,5 x 36,5 cm
: PB
Groningen, Groninger Museum, inv./ 1919.0259

Isaak Soreau
Groentestilleven in een mand, dated 16(3?)8
copper, oil paint 61,3 x 65,4 cm
Sotheby's (New York City) 1996-01-11, nr. 73

attributed to Samuel Hofmann
Still life of fruit, dated 1612
panel, oil paint 24 x 36,5 cm
: H. 1612.
Hahn 1920-05-14 - 1920-05-15, nr. 41

Jacob Marrel
Still life with a vase of flowers and a dead frog, dated 1634
panel (oak), oil paint 40 x 30 cm
lower center : Iacobus Marrellus Fecit Vtreck Anno 1634
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ A 772

Jacob Marrel and after Matthäus Merian (I)
Cartouche embellished with flowers surrounding a view of Frankfurt am Main, dated 1651
canvas, oil paint 104 x 82 cm
lower left : J. M..rel. ƒ/ a° 1.6.51.
Frankfurt am Main, Historisches Museum Frankfurt, inv./ B 2

Abraham Mignon stayed several years in Utrecht and returned in 1676 to Frankfurt.5 His late works are closer to the magnificent still-lifes of Jan Davidsz de Heem, his second teacher, than to the unpretentious paintings by Marrel [7]. Both, Mignon and Marrel, became completely ‘Dutch’ and got rid of the last touch of German style. Mignon is thought to have taught Ernst Stuven of Hamburg, thus the Dutch style was passed on from a German to a compatriot, who in his turn settled in Holland.

Johann Wolfgang Rorschach (from Rorschach, c. 1655-1730) lived in Frankfurt for a long time and painted exuberant compositions in the taste of Abraham Mignon [8]. The flower painter Jacob Campo Weyerman (1677-1747) [9] related how he was robbed on his way and only reached the town of Frankfurt with some difficulties. There he painted for the dukes of Hanau and other art lovers.6

Abraham Mignon
Flowers and a branch with an orange in a glass vase on a stone ledge, 1660s
canvas, oil paint 88 x 67 cm
lower left : A. Mignon fe.
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 2017

Johann Wolfgang Rorschach
Fruit still-life
canvas, oil paint 55 x 48 cm
Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein der Grafen von Schönborn, inv./ 142

Jacob Campo Weyerman
Floral still life in an ornametal vase
canvas, oil paint 69 x 50 cm
lower right : Campovivo pinxit
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, inv./ 382

Alongside these popular representatives of the Dutch flower piece, Wallerant Vaillant also deserves to be highlighted once again. His repeatedly mentioned trompe l’oeil, the letter rack of 1658 (the year of the emperor's coronation), belonged to David de Neufville (1623-1684) [10], where it was seen by Balthasar de Monconys (1611-1665). It is a fine example of the type of Dutch illusionistic art, so much sought-after abroad [11-12] .7 Another work, a hunting still-life, shows the celebrated portrait painter from a different angle, which also must have been appreciated [13-14].8

Cornelis Jonson van Ceulen (I)
Portrait of David de Neufville (1623-1684)
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Frankfurt am Main, Neufvillische Familien Stiftung

Wallerant Vaillant
Letter rack with letters, dated 1658
paper on linen, oil paint 51,5 x 40,5 cm
lower left : Wallerand Va...nt fecit
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 1232

Wallerant Vaillant
Letter rack with letters, dated 1658
canvas, oil paint 51,5 x 41,5 cm
lower left : Wallerand Va...nt fecit
Sotheby's (New York City) 1991-01-10, nr. 43

Wallerant Vaillant
Kitchen still-life with dead birds, a hare an a calf's head
panel, oil paint 110 x 75,3 cm
lower right : w.vaillant.fecit
Christie's (Amsterdam) 1999-05-04, nr. 28

Wallerant Vaillant
Hunting still-life with birds, dated 1657
canvas on panel, oil paint 63,5 x 48,9 cm
lower right : w.vaillant 1657
London, art dealer Rafael Valls Limited

We only know of three architectural painters who worked in Frankfurt: Hans Vredeman de Vries, Hendrik van Steenwijck I (c. 1550-1603) [16] and Hendrik van Steenwijck II (1580-1640) [17].9 Despite their Dutch origin they belonged rather to the Flemish rather than the Dutch circle. We mention them because the church interiors of both the Steenwijcks, of whom the younger was also active in The Hague, represent a universal Dutch type. Moreover, they found their German imitators in this town.10 In a London auction of 1930 two church interiors were sold from an unknown Stockler, who could very well have been a Frankfurt artist [15].11

Christian Stöcklin (I)
Interior of a fantasy church, dated 1781
unknown, oil paint 31,7 x 37,4 cm
lower center : Stockler 1681 [Stöcklin 1781]
Christie's 1930-03-21, nr. 74

Hendrik van Steenwijck (I)
Fantasy architecture with colonnade, dated 1588
canvas, oil paint 110 x 134 cm
Dessau (Saksen-Anhalt), Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie - Schloss Georgium, inv./ 36

Hendrik van Steenwijck (II)
Church interior with Bel's priests consuming the offerings in the night (Daniel 14:13-21 ), dated 1604
panel, oil paint 65,4 x 92,3 cm
lower right : HENR: VA. / STEN.Jonge / 1604.
Christie's (Amsterdam) 2008-11-10, nr. 123


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] Auction Frankfurt 14/15 May 1920, no. 41 as H. Hoffmann (inscribed H. 1612). Possibly by Samuel Hofmann, by whom there is a similar painting in Stuttgart. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson probably meant RKDimages 286019, which was sold by the museum in Stuttgart in 1952. It does not look similar to us. On Netherlandish immigrants in Frankfurt: Vignau-Wilberg 1993. On Flegel and his circle: Wettengl et al. 1993.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] In many publications, f.e. Utrecht 1933 , it is stated that Marrel learned in Antwerp from Nicolaes Verendael and Jan Davidsz de Heem. But De Heem can only be traced in Antwerp from 1636 on. There is a painting by Marrel that is inscribed ‘Jacobus Marellus fecit Utrecht Anno 1634 (Centraal Museum, Utrecht) [illustrated here, RvL]. Like most of his paintings, it does not look Flemish but Dutch. It is not particularly reminiscent of De Heem but of earlier still-lifes, perhaps by Roelant Savery or Ambrosius Bosschaert. Maybe he went at a later stage to Nicolaes Verendael in Antwerp. [Van Leeuwen 2017] The painting of 1634 was on loan to the Centraal Museum from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam at the time. In 21 November 1641 Marrel married Catharina Elyot, daughter of the goldsmith Francois Elyot. She died in Utrecht in 1649 (Ecartico).

3 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Marrel probably went several times to Utrecht between 1659 and 1669, probably as a merchant in tulip bulbs.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] Balthasar de Monconys visited him in 1664 and saw a lot of old master prints with him. See also De Kruyff 1892 and Bredius 1915-1921, vol. 1, p. 112.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson derived this (mis?)information from Wurzbach 1906-1911, vol. 2 (1910), p. 169. Wurzbach states that his 6th child was baptized in Frankfurt on 17 December 1676. Not discussed in Kraemer-Noble 2007. Also was stated in Wurzbach and Thieme/Becker that Mignon died in Frankfurt or Wetzlar (where his mother lived), but he was buried 27 March 1679 in the Buurkerk in Utrecht (Briels 1997; Kraemer-Noble 2007, p. 286, note 14). However, it is likely that Mignon travelled many times between Utrecht and Frankfurt. In RKDimages 174 works related to Mignon; 121 were examined by Sam Segal and entered as part of the Segal project in 2008-2011.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Weyerman 1729-1679, vol. 3, p. 350; vol. 4, p. 437 ff. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Although many details in his stories were probably untrue, he probably indeed visited the fair in Frankfurt (Groenenboom-Draai 1994, p. 455-456). Schnackenburg states that the painting in Kassel (illustrated here) probably was bought directly from the artist c. 1720 (Schnackenburg 1996, p. 324, fig. 232).

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] Gemäldegalerie Dresden, no. 1232. On the envelopes addresses of Isaac Mouton, Prince Jean Maurice de Nasau, Vaillant and Neufville. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Seen in Frankfurt by De Monconys on 14 January 1664, according to Gerson at the house of David de Neufville. However, it is not clear where he saw this painting; it also could have been with Jacob Marrel, who is mentioned in the previous paragraph of the source Gerson used (De Marsy 1880, p. 42-43). However, David de Neufville and his twin-brother Peter (1623-1691) are mentioned on the letter at the lower right of the painting, which make him a candidate as the client for this painting, and De Monconys did visit David de Neufville on 7 January 1664 (De Marsy, p. 41). David de Neufville was a third generation migrant and merchant from a noble family of Antwerp. In an auction in 1985 (Sotheby’s New York, 1985-06-06, no. 13) an identical version of Vaillant’s painting of 1658 emerged (auctioned again Sotheby’s New York 1991-01-10, no. 43). The hypothesis that this second version was intended for Peter de Neufville (from two brothers, to two brothers) seems plausible.

8 [Gerson 1942/1983] Rotterdam 1938-1939, no. 29, ill. [Van Leeuwen 2017] In 2001, during cleaning, the date 1657 and signature of Vaillant was discovered on another hunting still-life (illustrated here) when it was in the possession of Rafael Valls Limited, London. This painting also probably originated in Frankfurt.

9 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Steenwijck II took over the workshop of his father in 1603. Howarth 2012. The illustrated painting of Steenwijck II probably originated in Frankfurt.

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Steenwijck I also painted the Münster in Aachen (Schleissheim, dated 1573). See Peltzer 1926-1927; compare Zülch 1932, p. 224 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Steenwijck married in 1573 in the ‘secret church’ in Stolberg near Aachen to Helena Heilwich van Valckenborch, daughter of Martin van Valckenborch]. [Van Leeuwen 2017] RKDimages 284885, more versions known.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Auction London (Christie’s) 1930-03-21, no. 74. This would be in line with the preference of Frankfurt collectors for Netherlandish church interiors (Neefs, Van Vliet, Coesermans). [Van Leeuwen 2017] For ‘Nachwirkung’ of church interiors in Frankfurt: Gerson 1942/1983, p. 323. [Van Leeuwen 2019] This artwork is likely by the hand of Christian Stöcklin I (1741-1795), and the date should read '1781' (communication G. Kölsch, April 2019).

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