Local Heart, Global Soul

May 8, 2016

Bartholomeus van der Helst Takes Me To Detail Heaven…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterday’s post during a visit to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum I discovered a painting that took my breath away.

The artist is Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613-1670), a Dutch painter born in Haarlem, and the painting is:
Painting: “Officers and Other Members of the Militia Company of District VIII under the Command of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz

He must have known about the work of Frans Hals, also from Haarlem and who also specialised in portraiture and after moving to Amsterdam he must have also been acquainted with Rembrandt van Rijn.

Van der Helst soon became the most popular painter of portraits in that city, his flattering portrayals in the style of Anthony van Dyck being more immediately appealing than Rembrandt’s dark and introspective later work.

Some of Rembrandt’s pupils, including Ferdinand Bol and Govaert Flinck, adopted Van Helst’s style instead of their master’s.

Van der Helst taught his son Lodewijk van der Helst who followed his style.

On 25 June 2006, Hans-Joachim Bohlmann, who had already caused an estimated 130 million Euros damage in similar attacks in Germany, intentionally damaged the painting by spraying lighter fuel on its surface and lighting it. The damage was mostly to the varnish layer, some parts of the original paint and cloth were also afflicted as well as the frame.

From the Dome.Mit website (link at bottom of this post) I find out that:
The enormous civic guard portraits that he painted in the early 1640s reveal Van der Helst’s talent for composing large groups of figures and for portraying subjects in confident poses.

For many years, connoisseurs placed Van der Helst’s “Celebration of the Peace of Munster” on a par with Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. Van der Helst remained the leading portrait painter of Amsterdam’s patrician class until his death in 1670.

The names of 25 of the company members portrayed here, in front of the de Haan brewery, are on the frame. The painting was commissioned to hang in the Kloveniersdoelen (Arquebusiers’ or Musketeers’ Hall) in Amsterdam; Van der Helst may not have completed this commission until 1642 or 1643.

The schutterij, civic guard, or town watch, was a defensive military support system for the local civic authority. Its officers were wealthy citizens of the town, appointed by the city magistrates.

In yesterday’s post I focused on the painting as a whole, today I take you for a look into some of the stunning detail. As regular readers know, this kind of detail is deeply pleasing to any detail fanatic… and that my friends is what I am, and why this painting has sailed to the very top of my favourite painting list.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Painting: “Officers and Other Members of the Militia Company of District VIII under the Command of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz”

Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch painter, 1613-1670)

Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

May 7, 2016

Soldiers In Rink Ribbons And Bows: Lace And Feathers Complete The Look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The “Night Watch” may be one of the most famous paintings in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, but there are many other top tier paintings worth seeing there as well.
Studying the “Night Watch” up close gave me a new appreciation that I never felt when I studied it in my Art History lectures, seeing the brush strokes in person and finding new levels of detail made the painting so much more “alive” and gave it so much more personality and character.

That said, it is still not my favourite, not by a long chalk.

One of my favourite paintings stands just a few meters from the “Night Watch” and one thing is for certain, this is no shrinking violet of a painting.

For a start it’s big… actually let me rephrase that, this painting is massive… breathtakingly so, at 7.5 metres (24.6 feet) long.

It’s official title is:”Officers and Other Members of the Militia of District VIII in Amsterdam Led by Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz. ” and the painter is  Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch painter, 1613-1670).

The information panel next to it tells me: “The painting used to reside in the the large hall of the Klovebiersdoelen, taking up an entire wall. Van der Helst did not line up the thirty militiamen in a static row, but positioned the ones with the lightest coloured clothing in the front at regular intervals. The painter even included himself in the group, at the far left.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The virtual “favourite” list in my head that I could check off off to say what makes me adore this painting is a long one; the level of realism, magnificent size, delicate rendering of many different textures, delightful whimsy and humour in the style of dress of the time, pleasing composition, the use of colour, this painting checks everything on my list.

The clothing can not fail to make the viewer smile, the overly frilly and what to us would today seem to be seriously feminine styles were of course the norm in 1642.

Anyway, don’t you think it takes a real man to carry off pink ribbons tying up the bottom of his breeches,  matching of course with the pink buttons down the side of his pants and the even bigger pink bows that lace up his shoes?

The lace collars and cuffs, the embroidered and embellished fabrics complete the ensemble and are probably a show of wealth and status.

Extra wide tops to their boots and filly topped socks certainly seem to have been the height of fashion at the time too, even the wooden spare gunpowder canisters hanging from the leather jacket of two of the militiamen are made and attached in such a way that they look like they are fashion accessories.

Wikipedia tells me:
Officers and Other Members of the Militia of District VIII in Amsterdam Led by Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz. Description: The company of captain Roelof Bicker and lieutenant Jan Michielsz. Blaeuw outside the De Haan brewery in the Lastage district (corner Geldersekade-Boomsloot) in Amsterdam, 1639. The people portrayed are: Pieter Hulft (vaandrig), Dirck de Lange (sergeant), Jochem Rendorp (sergeant), Hendrick Gerritsz. Velthoen, Jan Jorisz. Eenhoorn, Coenraet Rogiersz. Ramsden, Johannes Rombouts, Willem Jansz. Steenwijck, Jan Hulft, Claes Rotterdam, Clemens van Sorgen, Jan Martensz. Troost, Hendrick Jansz. Dommer, Paulus van Walbeeck, Jan Cornelisz. Moyaert, Hendrik Jorisz. Fuyck, Abraham Pietersz. Kroock, Cornelis Wilkens, Adriaen Jorisz. Eenhoorn, Isaac van de Venne, Jan Cornelisz. Pronk, Gerrit Jacobsz. Indischerave, Dirck Joosten Rijskamp, Renier Redinckhoven, Wynant Arentsz. Oppyn en Cornelis Wilkens Jr. On the far left the painter portrayed himself.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Painting: “Officers and Other Members of the Militia Company of District VIII under the Command of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz”

Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

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