Rare Draughtsman of the Golden Century
quite cannibalic jolly …”
holy wine ,
breaks the rigour of the spirit’s tension ,
the Dionysus art … »
Oswald Spengler , Decline of the West
vol. II, 1928, page 266
Rare Draughtsman of the Golden Century
The Hague about 1598 – supposedly Amsterdam 1681/84
Bacchanal. In Arcadian landscape the company of the male and female bacchantes and Satyrs as guests of Silenus as the “tutor of the god (Dionysus/Bacchus, this himself left of Silenus’ group as fat boy with cup in the raised left, turned to a bacchante ensnaring him) whom he is said to have encouraged to invent viniculture”, here with the panther as but rarer of his attributes. Still the music (pan pipe & violin) plays, laugh, drink, make merry, and copulate some, while others already sleep, now exhausted, now merrily, or spit out what was too much.
Shot , too , already Silenus himself ,
here as the squat jovial , burlesque and pung-nosed fat old boy
as “the later poets render” him. Supported by two bacchantes, one of which with tambourine as “as not only preferred attribute of the dance, but also symbol of love and passion” (Florence Gétreau, Watteau und die Musik, in Margaret Morgan Grasselli und Pierre Rosenberg, Watteau, 1984/85, Seite 549) in the raised left, he seems about leaving the party, no longer minding the grapes presented, while not eating themselves, by putti. Below of elevated ruins situated laterally right as
“ special deliciousness the skin hopping ”
of a bacchante balancing at the same time a wine cup and surrounded in a dance :
“ One sacrificed a ram, made a skin from the hide, filled this with wine, made it slippery on the outside with oil, and then tried to hop on it with one leg. She who fell down was laughed out of court, who knew to stay on top greeted as victor ”
(Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., IV , 998, as already above from XIV, 975, too).
See also the quite substantially simplified drawn version by Nicolas Poussin Rosenberg-Prat 208 in Windsor Castle (inv. 11992; 247 x 318 mm) of maybe about 1636 following an antique gem and Virgil’s (70-19 B.C.) Georgica (II, 384) which is just about holding the balance on the oiled skin at all, namely standing on both feet and without wine bowl.
Plumbago drawing on vellum. Inscribed in two lines lower right: Daniel Vert / g .inve. 13⅛ × 15½ in (333 × 395 mm).
Absolutely perfect drawing up to the signature and lined in brown of
delightfully splendid easiness
of the as draughtsman very rare Vertangen
( “The style of the sheet [in the Albertina] – Roethlisberger, Bartholomäus Breenbergh [1598/1600-1657] / Drawings, 1969, cat. no. 150 –
reminds of Daniel Vertangen’s rare , contemporary drawings” )
whom then neither Bernt (1980) nor Thieme-Becker (1940) nor Wurzbach (1906/11) record/mention as such, of whom it is yet said in 1736 in a sales catalog “in Painting as in Drawing as good as Poelenburg” (from Sluijter-Seijffert, The School of Cornelis van Poelenburch, in In His Milieu, Essays on Netherlandish Art in Memory of J. M. Montias, 2006, pp. 445 f.) and 1850 by Nagler
“ so also his drawings are treated very delicately ”.
Both sources also otherwise quite contrary to Thieme-Becker who consider him as mere imitator of his master Cornelis van Poelenburgh (about 1586-1667) and adhere to Woermann (1879/88) by his statement “less clear and delicate in the tone and in the treatment”. Just as then also Bernt censures the as against the master a little clumsy figures and the lack of the “atmospheric of the southern landscape and (the) liveliness of the accessories”.
What after all reads differently not only in Roethlisberger’s comparison, that is high-quality autonomy, too, but also elsewhere. So already 1753 in Houbraken (“very gracefully painted Hawking Parties, bathing Women, and dancing Bacchantes, in decorative landscapes”, vol. I, p. 129) contemporarily with Matthew Pilkington’s (1701-1774) Dictionary of Painters “proved one of the most eminent disciples in the School of Poelenburg” (edition 1805, p. 617). And 1935 Martin reckons Vertangen beside Johan van Haensbergen (pupilship for Sl.-S. not certain) and Dirck van der Lisse among “Poelenburgh’s best apprentices”. And Laurens J. Bol (Dutch Painters of the 17th Century close to the Grand Masters, 1969, pp. 160 & 162 with note 223) indirectly picks up this thread when on occasion of the illustrated Two Bathers from the Kaye collection he explains
“ The painting is not signed. Should it origin from the school of Poelenburgh, then here the ‘pupil’ is equal to the master. ”
Irrespective of the great workshop (Th.-B.) with its “number of apprentices” (Martin), in literature yet only aforementioned three names plus, so Bol & Sl.-S., Abraham van Cuylenburgh account for the ‘School’. And in particular Vertangen’s far posthumous great esteem is testified by sales catalogs with entries like
“ (A capital piece, being a Bacchanal, rendered extensively) ” (Sep. 12, 1708) ; “ Une Bachanale … se Tableau est délicatement peint & bien fini ” (July 20, 1775) ; “ (An excellent [Arcadian] landscape by Vertangen, Poelem(!)burgh’s famous pupil) ” (Oct. 18, 1790) ; and 1793 on a wooded mountainscape with bathing nymphs and ruins: “ (The brightness in the air makes for the most excellent contrast with the darkness of the trees, and is done quite in the flavor of a Claude Lorrain … It certainly is one of the best pictures by this master) ”
(from Getty Provenance Index, Sales Catalogs).
And Gerson (1942), thinking of the Netherlanders collection of the artistic Brunswick Duke Anton Ulrich (1633-1714), lists Vertangen in good company when he writes
“ Anton Ulrich’s main creation … was the maison de plaisance at Salzdahlum (completed 1694) … with its cabinet of curiosities comprising important collections of inestimable value with the (as a whole not preserved) world-renowned picture-gallery , one of the most precious in Europe ”
(Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie I , 487 ff.).
Obviously often taken over from Poelenburgh by Vertangen ruins situated far right on an elevation and foliage extending into the picture upper left as, for instance, in the Flight into Egypt (1625/26) in Utrecht (Bol, op. cit., ills. 151)., an arrangement we encounter both in Vertangen’s paintings Bathing Nymphs in Arcadian Landscape & Italian Hilly Landscape with Diana and her Nymphs – cf. RKD 191751 & 224424, illustrations 52 & 60 – and, indeed, in present Bacchanal drawing. Which yet in addition
comes up with still a completely different attraction .
As by his core group of Silenus citing nothing less than
the lost Rubens Bacchanal in Berlin
from about 1620 (Rosenberg, P. P. Rubens – Des Meisters Gemälde [Klassiker der Kunst V], 2nd ed., 1906, pages 211 [ill.] & 474 [“Supposedly executed with the co-operation of van Dyck”]; Staatliche Museen/Beschreibendes Verzeichnis der Gemälde im Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum … , 9th ed., 1931, page 409, no. 776B with ill.; Bernhard, Verlorene Werke der Malerei, 1965, page 20 of the catalog with ill. 130), as documented here probably for the first time.
The rearranged adult group yet reduced from seven (seventh, far right, according to Rosenberg with the features of Isabella Brant [1591-1626], Rubens’ first wife) to five with panther, three of which matching type. Newly introduced two bacchantes, one of which with a suckling at the breast. Rubens’ four putti, however, raised to six, the respective group of three in front of Silenus quite similar in arrangement and occupation. Virtually identical the isolated urinating putto, set alone on the right and repeatedly used by Rubens, with Vertangen the far right of the group, yet turned to two further putti, one of which riding the panther – with Rubens instead of this with its forepart only a tiger leaping into the picture from the left as not belonging to Silenus, although certainly his simultaneous (about 1615-1622) Nursing Tigress holding grapes in Vienna (Rosenberg p. 131) – and by this distracted from the said other need.
The posture of Silenus quite identical with stronger accentuation of his drunkenness with Rubens, more bent forward and rather stumbling than walking, than with Vertangen, who instead has him far more visibly supported by two bacchantes, just also by the one with the merely raised tambourine, with Rubens occupied with its playing only and placed on the other side.
Rubens dealt with the theme repeatedly since his also in this regard inspiring stay in Rome (1600-1608), so in sketch from 1611/13 at Windsor Castle (Sutton, The Age of Rubens, 1993, p. 154, ill. 10) and in paintings from 1606/08, 1618, about 1620, 1625/27 & 1637/40 (Rosenberg pages 20, 153, 211, 280, 438, in addition comparing the type pp. 98 & 133). How far particularly the composition of the lost Berlin oil called in here is his original invention shall remain undecided and rather referred to Natalya Gritsay, who on occasion of the Bacchus in Petersburg (Hermitage Catalogue, 17th and 18th Century Flemish Painting, 2008, no. 329, pp. 281 ff.) follows in great detail generally Italian models and prints by contemporaries. With the same result as Gina Thomas’ “As with the princely dynasties and noble families
entire genealogical trees of influences can be traced for painters”
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Feb. 20, 2001).
Possibly conceivable then also that Vertangen, if not having been in Italy even himself, had been made acquainted with the source for his Silenus group of present drawing via his master Poelenburgh, the latter having stayed first in Rome 1617-1622 and then in Florence until 1626/27 the latest and committed to Arcadia himself. As generally rarer much more interesting yet
Vertangen’s downright almost didactic synopsis
of the theme, his easy-buoyant stringing together of everything found rather apart elsewhere. As for instance his youthful Bacchus with the drinking bowl in the raised left, but also the drinking bacchant below far left as can be called up on the Petersburg Bacchus (Hermitage Catalogue 329 & Rosenberg p. 438) come across again, the latter fatter though, visibly older and with the drinking bowl in the raised right having poured wine. On the right of him then again the little urinator from the lost Berlin group picture.
Unfounded from the view here that Vertangen’s present Bacchanal irrespective of its signature – without reservation then also Lempertz 856 (advice for Netherlanders 17th century: Willem van de Watering [formerly RKD]), lot 1377 as The Triumph of Bacchus … – is recorded by RKD (39259) as attribution only. Presumably based on the inve(nit = has invented) instead of the fec(it = has done) prevailing in the Netherlandish 17th century by far. What nevertheless does not hold good.
So for an invenit the following examples, secured including inscription, shall be picked out from Bernt IV & V (The Dutch Draughtsmen of the 17th Century, 1979/80):
Or among prints Jacob von Ruisdael’s in. f. in the etchings Wurzbach 6 + 11, see their illustrations in Slive, J. v. R., Master of Landscape, Exh. Cat. 2005/06, nos. 108 + 101.
« … the old , actually mostly quite buoyant masters … »
Eduard Beaucamp , 2006
203, Dusart, fec. et inv. / 379, Maes, inv: et del / 489, Quellinus, invent / 537, Schellinks, ivnt or similar.
And a downright exemplarily unregulated application of signing is to be found in Schäfke (ed.), (Václav Hollar – The Cologne Years. Drawings and Etchings 1632-1636, 1992), with fecit. at first likewise dominating within the sets of etched costumes & and single figures, here of interest Sch. 41f, 41n, 42h, 53 f. (Parthey 1653, 1661, 1844, 594, 595) for W.Hollar inv: from 1635, 1636, 1643 as well as Sch. 60 (P. 2005) for W.Hollar inu: 1635. Besides then again fec., here and there also sculps(it = has engraved). And if it were about other third-party designs inv. for those, paired with the fec. of himself.
However, also the unconventionally stretched arrangement of present Vertangen signature is not out of the ordinary and catches up with the V. T. G. F. in Heller, Nagler (V, 1401) & Wurzbach, besides corresponding with the Karel dv / jardin / (1)658 of drawing Bernt 195, in turn placed sharply laterally. Besides Vertangen – cf. Wurzbach – by no means applied to a uniform signature and signed now in majuscules (capital letters), now in upper/lower case letters, now with full given name, then this only as D. or omitting entirely and in the Schwerin Diana with her Nymphs “Daniel Vertange” (sic!). And besides: why should another person sign in a manner which if necessary might raise attention? Just in case noted here on the signature further that its tails (only?) are covered by the edge lining.
The provenance specification Hella Robels stated by RKD indirectly for the drawing incorrect and also not professed by aforementioned Lempertz catalog fed from several collections as source. Also the sheets from the estate of Robels figure under seller no. 113, however, present Vertangen drawing under no. 7.
Of Vertangen’s circumstances but little is known, particularly not if he himself had been in Italy, as with regard to the time his relation as pupil of Poelenburgh’s might let seem probable since as is known the latter stayed in Rome 1617/22, then for an extended period in Florence and returned to Utrecht only 1626/27. Sl.-S. considers it possible that Vertangen was related to Poelenburgh’s workshop before 1617 as apprentice and after 1626/27 again as assistant. Secured otherwise a stay in Denmark 1658, where at Rosenberg Castle still 1888 a Storm on Copenhagen was to be seen, then Amsterdam for 1673 & 1681. And “1641 and later a merchant of the same name is mentioned in Amsterdam, who states in 1655 to be 49 years old. It is possible that he is identical with the painter” (Wurzbach). An activity in Hamburg, too, is queried.
Sluijter-Seijffert , op. cit. , page 446
His activity as figure painter for colleagues is documented by three references in the Getty Index of Sales Catalogs:
- For Alexander Keirincx : Hilly Landscape traversed by Water with Bathing Nymphs and Satyrs, “all splendidly dealt with by Keirincx and Vertangen” (Mar. 16, 1801; Bernt mentions for this as occasionally only van Poelenburgh) ,
- for Abraham van Cuylenborch : Feb. 2, 1814 ,
- for Bartholomeus Breenbergh : Landscape with ruins with Diana and her nymphs, “the Figures are by Vertangen” (Apr. 8, 1835) .
The question of a stay in Italy aside, once again much more interesting for present work its classical position in the œuvre in general.
For just this is the strength of this specialist :
“ Painted Arcadian landscapes
and other mythological accessories ”
(Th.-B.) as a subject cast with illustrious names with, possibly, Poussin’s ample group of drawings of bacchanals and Pan hilarity as zenith, whose Bacchanale sous une treille, Rosenberg-Prat I, 94, for instance came to mind spontaneously in spite of its mastership of gross rollicking speed while looking at the bacchanal here.
While there the downright orgiastic gaiety fascinates, so seductive here the in all straightforwardness – the copulating couple at the same time allegory for Dionysus/Demeter as begetter/breeder of ancient early religion – Arcadian serenity, indeed Vertangen’s delicate execution, supported quite essentially
by tone & softness of its delicate vellum
as in the Netherlands of the 17th century “sort of revival. Not only that delicately drawn compositions, genre depictions, still lifes were executed on it, it served especially for portrait drawings of intrinsic value which now and then were stretched between two wooden bars in the manner of maps and mounted to the wall … Beside such vellum portraits common in all town houses also further representations on this material were esteemed as soon as they showed a neat and graceful execution” (Meder, Die Handzeichnung, 1919, page 171). Yet in such a manner they were worn in daily life just like those beautiful wall maps and grew to rarities.
May be that also present work in its wall-efficient large format and its due to the indeed still young soft graphite pencil
painterly effect of rich chiaroscuro
was intended for this, of which there are no marks yet. For apart from a not particularly suspicious diagonal fold trace in the lower part of the subject and a small further one in the white edge part above right it is of perfect freshness.
Its coming into being certainly before 1660. For as already before both his co-master pupils van der Lisse and van Haensbergen, conditioned on the market Vertangen concentrated himself, too, since the 1660s exclusively on the subject of portraits. What, so Sl.-S., nevertheless is not reflected by the almost 500 paintings at the public sales documented for the period of 1630-1840, even though many portraits are preserved. Several of these only then also among the again inevitably including reiterations 637 lots in the period of 1695-1943 – dominating yet 2nd half of the 18th and the 19th centuries – comprised in the Getty Index.
Yet amidst such a plenty of paintings
but just a handful drawings !
On the back lower right by old hand in bister : 20 Gulden .
Remains as résumé : from a great century
one of Vertangen’s quite scarce drawings .
Just as splendid
as on precious ground .
And by this with respect to the latter just as as black lead/pencil technique of that additional rarity which Bernt mentions on occasion of Pieter Quast (1606-1647) : “beside the pen he prefers
as only few Dutch draughtsmen pencil or chalk on vellum ”,
illustrating two of these per 484 f. A secured one along with further references and same provenance as Vertangen’s present one also with Lempertz as lot 1342 of aforementioned catalog.
Not least quoting and/or recalling great neighborhood: Rubens’ lost Berlin Bacchanal!
Offer no. 15,994 / price on application
« Yet the beautiful
( the welfare of mankind )
in a far higher and greater degree
( than the useful things ) ;
therefore among useful things
the beautiful is the most useful of all »
Chap. on Governing
Hermann von Pückler-Muskau
placed in front of his
Hints on Landscape Gardening
“ The print arrived and the packaging was wonderful – thank you for your care with this item! The print is lovely … If you ever see any other prints of horses like this, please let me know … ”
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(Mrs. K. K. S., April 5 & 13 resp., 2016)