Gerson Digital : Germany I


7.1 Dutch Artists in Prague

The court of Rudolf II (1552-1612) in Prague was the center of German Mannerism with Hans von Aachen (1552-1616) and Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611), who also bought for the imperial collection. In 1602/3 Count Simon VI zur Lippe (1554-1613) [1], whom we discussed earlier, instructed his court painter Johann Tilemann to buy paintings by Lucas van Leyden,1 Hendrick Goltzius [2-4] and Knotter2 in Holland to send to Prague.3 Tilemann himself added two works by his own hand for the court painter Hans von Aachen (for assessment?). Abraham Bloemaert painted a Feast of the Gods [5] for Count Simon and the History of Niobe for the emperor.4 From Jacob de Gheyn the emperor acquired a flower piece and a sketchbook with flowers and animals [6].5 The emperor is also said to have bought paintings by Bloemaert’s pupil Hendrick ter Brugghen,6 which surprises us, because Ter Brugghen belonged to the first ‘anti mannerist’ artists in the Netherlands that overcame this style by following the example of Caravaggio. Otto van Veen (1556-1629)7 and Simon Frisius (c. 1580-1628),8 who both worked at the emperor’s court, complied better with the prevailing taste.

Johann Tilemann
Portrait of Simon VI zur Lippe (1554-1613), dated 1600
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
upper left : SIMON graf zur Lippe/ [...........]/ 1600
Detmold, Schloss Detmold

Hendrick Goltzius
Christ sitting on the cold stone between two angels, dated 1602
copper, oil paint 51 x 34 cm
lower left : HG 1602
Providence (Rhode Island), Museum of Art - Rhode Island School of Design, inv./ 61.006

Hendrick Goltzius
Sine Cerere et Libero Friget Venus, dated 1606
canvas, white oil paint, pen in brown ink, pen in red ink, traces of red chalk 219 x 163 cm
lower left : HG A.1606
Saint Petersburg (Russia), Hermitage, inv./ 18983

Hendrick Goltzius
Sine Cerere et Libero Friget Venus, 1599-1602
canvas, pen and brush in brown, reworked with oil paint 105 x 80 cm
Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Philadelphia Museum of Art, inv./ 1990-100-1

Abraham Bloemaert
The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, 1590-1591
canvas, oil paint 101 x 146,5 cm
Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv./ 6526

Jacques de Gheyn (II)
Custodia Album, 1600-1604
parchment (animal material), aquarel paint (watercolor) 228 x 176 mm
upper center : Desseins / De fleurs, insectes et animaux / Par Jacques de / Ghein
Paris, Fondation Custodia - Collection Frits Lugt, inv./ 5655

Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn (c. 1565/70-after 1619) painted the emperor’s portrait and a picture of a Venus [7-8] in the style of Spranger. After the death of the emperor he returned to Holland.9 We have a vague idea what Cornelis Claesz. Heda (c. 1566-after 1619) must have painted, as he was a pupil of Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, but no works by him are known. When a Persian delegation came to Prague in 1605, the ambassador recruited him as ‘painter of the King of Persia’.10

Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn
Venus asleep, c. 1608
panel (oak), oil paint 80 x 152 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ GG 1104

Hans Vredeman de Vries and possibly Hans von Aachen
The Annunciation, dated 1598
panel, oil paint 221 x 140 cm
left : 1598 HANS (in ligature) VREDEMAN (in ligature) FEC:AET.72
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 6436

Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn
Venus asleep, c. 1608
panel, oil paint 70 x 146 cm
Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, inv./ CA 134

Hans Vredeman de Vries (1525/26-1609) and his son Paul Vredeman de Vries (1567-1616/17), who painted in Flemish style, constructed mannerist perspectives and illusionistic hallways and galleries for Rudolf II. Together with other court painters, the elder Vredeman de Vries painted a large altar piece [9].11 The emperor also acquired architecture paintings by Hendrick van Steenwijck I (c. 1550-1603) [10],12 which are still, like some works by Vredeman de Vries [11-14], in Vienna.

Hendrik van Steenwijck (I)
Colonnade with lute player and amorous couples, c. 1595-1599
copper, oil paint 13 x 21,7 cm
below, right of the middle : STEENWYCK
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ KK 859

Hans Vredeman de Vries and Paul Vredeman de Vries and Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn
Love garden with elegant figures, dated 1596
canvas, oil paint 137 x 174 cm
lower left : Hans Vredeman Vriese inv PA Vredeman fec 1596
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 2335

Hans Vredeman de Vries and Paul Vredeman de Vries and Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn
Palace architecture with elegant fugures and a fountain, 1596
canvas, oil paint 137 x 164 cm
lower right : Hans [in ligature] Vredeman [in ligature] Vriese inv
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 2334

Hans Vredeman de Vries Paul Vredeman de Vries and Dirk de Quade van Ravesteyn
Palace architecture with musicians, dated 1596
panel, oil paint 135 x 174 cm
lower center : Hans [in ligature] Vredeman [in ligature] Vriese inv 1596
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 2336

Hans Vredeman de Vries and Paul Vredeman de Vries
Liefdestuin met galante taferelen en badende figuren, c. 1596
canvas, oil paint 138 x 186 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 1899

An unknown painter Berthold van Vianen, possibly a relative of Paulus van Vianen I (c. 1570-c.1613/14) from Utrecht, who became the emperor’s goldsmith in 1603, was also active at the court in Prague [15].13 The Louvre houses three mannerist drawings by Paulus [16-18], others are found in Berlin [19], Vienna [20] and Braunschweig [21].14

Joseph Carl Burde after Paulus van Vianen (I)
Landscape with bridge
paper, pen in india ink ? x ? mm
lower right : Jos Burde fecit.
Prague, Národní Galerie v Praze

Paulus van Vianen (I)
Prometheus chained, dated 1610
paper, black chalk, pen in brown ink, grey wash, blue wash 85 x 140 mm
lower left : Pauwels van / [..]nen f prag 1610
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ 23107

Paulus van Vianen (I)
The contest of Apollo and Marsyas, c. 1605
grey paper, black chalk, grey wash, heightened in white 397 x 492 mm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ 21449

Paulus van Vianen (I)
Mary wth child, c. 1610
brown paper, black chalk, brown chalk, grey wash 494 x 390 mm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ 22359

Paulus van Vianen (I)
View of Salzburg from the Nonnberg side (verso: Prague Castle), c. 1602
paper, pen in brown ink, brown wash 152 x 313 mm
Basel (Switzerland), Kunstmuseum Basel, inv./ 1932-194

Paulus van Vianen (I)
Minerva visits the Muses on the mount Helicon, where Pegasus has just activated the fountain of Hippocrene, c. 1600-1602
paper, pen in brown ink, red-brown wash 146 x 198 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 8389

Paulus van Vianen (I)
Argus and Io in a forest landscape (Metamorfosen 1:668-721), 28 januari 16[...]
paper, pen in brown ink, brown wash 114 x 145 mm
lower right : Pauwels van vianen / in Saltzburch A° 16[...] / den 28. Januari.
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./ Z. 172

Roelant Savery (1576-1639), a Flemish immigrant in Amsterdam, was sent for two years (1606-1608) to Tirol by the emperor to record the mountain landscapes. Quite a number of such drawings have been preserved; particularly pretty Tiroler vedutes are found in the so-called Atlas Blaeu in Vienna (volume XLVI), but other collections (Vienna, London,15 Copenhagen, Paris and other places) also house his lightly washed drawings. They have been engraved by his pupils Isaak Major (1576-1630) and Jacob Matham. Major drew also ‘independently’, i.e. landscapes designed in line with Savery [22-27].16

Isaak Major
View of dilapidated houses near a city wall
paper, pen in brown ink 146 x 234 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3496

Isaak Major
View of ruins at a river
paper, pen in brown ink 146 x 234 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3503

Isaak Major
Evening landscape with the travellers to Emmaüs
paper, pen in brown ink 148 x 234 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3486

Isaak Major
View of a village with a ruine
paper, pen in brown ink 148 x 234 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3507

Isaak Major
Arboreal river landscape with St. Jerome and the lion
paper, pen in brown ink 155 x 236 mm
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3489

Isaak Major
View of the Praterau near Vienna
paper, pen in brown ink 159 x 235 mm
lower left : I·Ma
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3509

Roelant Savery
Boar hunting, dated 1609
panel, oil paint 24,7 x 34,2 cm
lower left : · R · SAVERY · / · 1609 ·
Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv./ 271

The small paintings by Savery are as fine and elegant as those of e.g. Adam Elsheimer; several of these came from the collection of Rudolf II to Vienna. Others were looted, along with many precious objects, by the Swedes in 1648.17 In the Prague inventory of 1621 the names of the Dutch mannerists (Cornelis van Haarlem, Karel van Mander I, Abraham Bloemaert, Hendrick Goltzius) occur, but not those of Vredeman de Vries and Steenwijck. Many works by Savery are mentioned, such as a ‘white raven’, ‘the big hog’ [28-29], ‘sea fishing’ etc.18 Later Savery became court painter of Emperor Matthias II (reigned 1612-1619). As he was back again in Amsterdam in 1616, he kept this honorary title only for four years.19

A certain Philip van den Bossche (active 1604-1615) drew a panorama of Prague [30], which was engraved by Johannes Wechter I [31].20

We also know that Abraham van der Doort (1565/70-1640) has been in the service of the emperor. As is generally known, he later went to England, where he became superintendent of Charles I’s picture gallery.21 Cornelis Jacobsz. Drebbel (1572-1633), an engraver and mathematician from Alkmaar, followed him to Prague. He must have been relieved when he could finally turn his back to the Habsburgs, as he twice spent a considerable amount of time in jail there!22

Roelant Savery
Boar hunting, 1609 or later
panel, oil paint 25,5 x 35 cm
Prague, Národní Galerie v Praze, inv./ O 2581

Philip van den Bossche
View of Prague (fragment), c. 1605
paper, pen, brown ink, blue wash 324 x 232 mm
Göttingen (Niedersachsen), Kunstsammlung der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, inv./ H 355

Johannes Wechter (I) after Philip van den Bossche published by Aegidius Sadeler (II)
View of the city of Prague, dated 1606
paper, etching 106,7 x 483 mm
New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv./ 53.601.10(72-83)


1 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Rudolf II tried to acquire paintings by Lucas van Leyden (a.o. the Last Judgment now in the Lakenhal in Leiden, RKDimages 7229), but was unsuccessful (Fusenig 2002, p. 119-120).

2 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Gerson quotes the name ‘Knotter’ from a letter by Johann Tilemann he wrote in Amsterdam, 7th June 1603 (published in Kiewning 1903, p. 143-144). The passage on Knotter reads as follows: ‘Was Euer [not: leever] wolgeborner und gnediger Herr anlanget Kaiseliche Mahsteit gendigste Begeren den Signeur [not: Signow] Knotter belangent, das man den solt ersuchen, ob er etwas ahn Ihro Mahesteit mit uber senden hette, […] ’ (Kiewning 1903, p. 144). The name Knotter must refer to Johan Adriaensz. Knotter, an art collector and amateur painter in Utrecht, who owned, among others, a Rebecca and Eliezer at the well by Lucas van Leyden (Van Mander 1604, not known anymore).

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Kiewning 1903. [Van Leeuwen 2018]. On the 26 purchases or purchase attempts of Simon VI zur Lippe for Rudolf II: Fusenig 2002; Bischoff 2014, p. 43-49. See also § 4.3.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] Van Mander/Floerke 1906, vol. 2, p. 356. [Van Leeuwen 2018] The Feast of the Gods is probably identical to the painting in the Alte Pinakothek: Roethlisberger/Bok 1993, p. 64, no. 12 and Fusenig 2002, p. 122, ill.; Bischoff 2010, p. 65-66. Van Mander mentions two versions of History of Niobe, one in the collection of the Italian businessman Sion Luz in Amsterdam (now in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, RKDimages 286676), and another in the collection of the emperor (now lost).

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Van Mander/Floerke 1906, p. 324-326. [Van Leeuwen 2018] ‘En hoewel zijnen hooghsten lust was tot Figueren, nam hy tot een ander proef onder handen, noch eenen grooteren Bloempot, met meeninghe te verbeteren t'gene hem in den eersten mishaeghde, en maeckte een groot glas, daer in staende eenen tuyl van bloemen, waer in hy groot gedult en suyverheyt te weghe bracht. Dit stuck heeft de Keyserlijcke Majesteyt ghecocht, met oock een cleen Boecxken, daer de Gheyn metter tijt eenige bloemkens van Verlichterije nae t'leven in hadde ghemaeckt, met oock veel cleene beestkens’ (Van Mander 1604, fol. 294v). On the drawing book (now in Fondation Custodia, Paris ): Hopper 1988. The flower piece is not known anymore.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] De Bie 1709, p. 277 (‘Welkers verscheyde stukken by den overleden en tegenwoordigen Кеуser, in dese Neder landen opgekogt, en naar Wenen gevoert sijn’). [Van Leeuwen 2018] If there is truth in this communication, it probably concerns Rudolf’s successor Matthias II of Austria, not Rudolf II.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Karel van Mander relates that Van Veen worked for a short time at the courts of Rudolf II in Prague and William V of Bavaria in Munich, before returning to the Low Countries (Van Mander 1604, fol. 301v). As far as we know, no works or documents support this. Two paintings from Rudolf’s Kunstkammer are now attributed to Otto van Veen, but these originated at a later stage, probably in Antwerp (RKDimages 286772 and 286776).

8 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Simon Frisius was a merchant of guns and luxury goods and was an agent of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar (Welcker 1936). If he indeed visited Prague, it was in that capacity, not as an artist.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] Bredius/Moes 1891, p. 208. [Van Leeuwen 2018] On De Quade van Ravesteyn: DaCosta Kaufmann 1988, p. 220-225, no. 16 and Vienna 1988-1989.

10 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Hutton/Tucker 2014. The Persian ambassador of 1604/5, by the way,  is depicted on a print by Aegidius Sadeler (RKDimages 286938). Volrabová/Kubíková 2012, p. 54-55, 161, no. II/15. I thank Stefan Bartilla for bringing this to my attention.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Van Mander/Floerke 1906, vol. 2, p. 114 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Van Mander 1604, fol. 267v; Borggrefe/Fusenig/Uppenkamp 2002, p. 345, no. 184; Zimmer 2014; Vácha 2014. Štěpán Vácha identified the patron of the altarpiece as Archduchesse Maria of Bavaria. But Emperor Rudolf II decided to keep it for the 'church' in Prague (probably the cathedral St. Vitus), because he found pleasure in the work. This was already proposed by Thomas DaCosta Kauffman and rejected by Joachim Jacoby in 2010. Eliška Fučíková regarded a drawing by Hans von Aachen in the Moravská galerie in Brno (inv. no. B 9702) as a preparatory drawing for the middle panel of this altar. I thank Stefan Bartilla for bringing this to my attention.

12 [Van Leeuwen 2018] The only work by Steenwijck I that can be traced back to the collection of Rudolf II is the illustrated work here, that is painted on a clock, made in the workshop of Rudolf II in Prague, probably by Christoph Margraf († 1612) or Jan Vermeyen († 1608) (Howarth 2009, p. 5, 119-120, no. I.52, p. 287 (note 46), ill. on p. 403).

13 [Van Leeuwen 2018] The name Berthold van Vianen occurs in Wurzbach 1906-1910, who took over the information from Nagler and Kramm. Kramm mentions an engraving signed ‘berthold van vianen fecit 1606, jos. burde fec.’ (Kramm 1857-1864, p. 1746); this refers to the drawing here illustrated (not engraving) of Joseph Carl Burde after a drawing by Paulus van Vianen. The inscription ‘Pauwell’ was misread as ‘Berthold’, ergo: there was no artist by the name of Berthold van Vianen.

14 [Gerson 1942/1983] Lugt/Vallery-Radot 1936, nos. 848-851. The drawing in Braunschweig is annotated: ‘Pauwels van Vianen in Saltzburch Ao. 16.. den 28 Januari’. [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Paulus van Vianen I as a draughtsman: Gerszi 1982.

15 [Gerson 1942/1983] See remark in Hind/Popham 1915-1932, no. 1-3. [Van Leeuwen 2018] De Groot et al. 1996-, vol IV (2004).

16 [Gerson 1942/1983] 24 drawings in the Albertina ( 476) are attributed to him. [Van Leeuwen 2018] All in the Albertina Collections online.

17 [Gerson 1942/1983] Granberg 1929-1931, vol. 1, p. 163 (with older literature); compare also Morévek 1937. [Van Leeuwen 2018] The Prague inventory of 6 December 1621, partly published in Granberg 1929-1931, vol. 1, p. 163-181, was already published before: Zimmermann 1905. The larger part of the paintings is listed as nos. 811-1383. Since the descriptions of the 517 paintings of the Swedish inventory of 1652 (Granberg 1929-1932, vol. 1, p. 209- 225), containing many works from Prague, do not state any names of painters, cross references can hardly be made.

18 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Zimmermann 1905, no. 1086 (‘Ein weiser raab von Saverj. [Orig.]’), no. 1184 (‘Das grosse schwein vom Seeveri [Orig.]’) and no. 1323 (‘Ein täflein mit meerfischen vom Saveri [Orig.]’). In Müllenmeister 1988, p. 344, all 16 works by Savery in the 1621 inventory are listed; the only one which possibly can be identified, is no. 1071 (‘Ein jäger mit einem hund, darbei ein grosser schweinskopf, vom Saverj [Orig.]’), a composition that is known from several versions. According to Müllenmeister it probably is identical to the one in Prague (RKDimages no. 275479). However, the version in Munich is the most likely candidate, since it is the best known version, signed and dated 1609.

19 [Gerson 1942/1983] Oddly in 1628 a ‘Rueland Severin, landscapist’ figures in Ferdinand II’s royal household (Hajdecki 1905-1907, 23 (1905), p.4). [Van Leeuwen 2018] Here Gerson misread Hajdecki: the text refers to his service for Matthias II in 1615; however, Savery’s name does not appear on the list of artists who were paid; possibly because Matthias II reduced costs on artists.

20 [Van Leeuwen 2018] The View of Prague comprises nine separate etched plates, which, when combined, measure more than three meters in width. Philip van den Bossche was mainly active as a court embroiderer for Rudolf II from 1604 on (Ilsink/Marchesi 2013).

21 [Van Leeuwen 2018] It is generally assumed that Van der Doort initially was in Prague in 1609 in the service of Rudolph II, as a result of wrongly summarizing Vertue in his description of the collection of Charles I, based on Van der Doort's inventory of 1649. There is stated the following concerning a wax bust made by Van der Doort that was initially intended for the emperor: 'No. 21. Item. Which was done by Abraham Vanderdoort, and given to Prince Henry upon conditions, which piece is too big to be kept in the cupboards at Whitehall. Imbust in coloured wax, so big as the life, upon a black ebony pedestal, a woman's head laid in with silver and gold, which was made for the Emperor Rodolphus, who did write divers times for it to be brought to him, but Prince Henry would, upon no terms or conditions, let the same, and the maker thereof, go out of England, but promising he would give so good entertainment as any Emperor should; whereupon he promised him, that when the cabinet room should be done, that he [=Van der Doort] should have the keeping of all his medals, &. and 50l. a year for service done, and to be done, which as yet, by reason of his [=Henry's] unseasonable death, was never performed. N.B. He [=Van der Doort] was afterwards keeper of Kings Charles' cabinet at Whitehall, newly built by Inigo Jones ; it was erected about the middle of the building, running across from the Thames, towards the banqueting House, and fronting westward the Privy Garden' (Vertue/Van der Doort 1649/1757, p. 164-165, no. 21). It appears that Van der Doort was in London, never went to Prague, and only corresponded with the emperor.

22 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Drebbel worked at Rudolf II’s court as an inventor, a.o. of a perpetuum mobile, see Karpenko/Purš 2016. During the coup of Matthias and immediately after the death of Rudolf II, several courtiers (e.g. the librarian) were imprisoned, interrogated and/or executed. Drebbel was imprisoned twice, but only for a short time, in March 1611 and January 1612. During his first imprisonment his house had been looted, his devices and instruments were destroyed and a considerable amount of his salary had not been paid. However, in February 1613, part of Drebbel's overdue fees was paid out and he received a safe-conduct from Emperor Matthias for his journey to London. He immediately left the country, together with his assistant Roger Cock. He did not return to Prague around 1620, as is stated in many sources (communication Hubert van Onna, who will publish a book on Drebbel in November 2018).

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