LEYDEN held a foremost place among those towns in the Netherlands which developed rapidly in the early years of the seventeenth century. The influx of industrious craftsmen, driven northward from Flanders, and the foundation of a High School, whose professors presently raised it to be the head-centre of learning in Holland, together with the establishment of the Collegium Theologicum, where Calvinism was taught, combined to open a new era to Leyden, which soon out-stripped the other cities of Holland in extent and prosperity. By 1695, when its borders were for a second time enlarged, the very appearance of the buildings showed its rapid development.
The Reformation had done much to change its aspect. Church buildings had become the property of the town and were appropriated to new uses ; the convents being taken for municipal purposes, hospitals or libraries, The three great churches the Hooglandsche, St. Pieter’s, and that of Our Lady were whitewashed over the pictured walls, and the old wood carvings not already destroyed were daubed over with paint. Even buildings of which the uses were left unchanged were altered. Thus a new wing was added to the old prison of the Gravensteen, adorned with wood-carvings by Xavery (1672) ; and the Burcht, the most ancient example of a fortress in the country, was modernized by the addition of a stone gate with the arms of the Government.
Leyden was still further transformed by the erection of new dwelling-houses, which were aligned in broad, straight streets, and the good citizens prided themselves on beautifying and improving their native town. In 1576 a new tower was begun at the back of the old town hall, and finished in the following year ; and twenty years later the town hall was itself provided with a new façade in the peculiar Renaissance style which marked the transition from the old Flemish to the New Dutch architecturestill of the traditional Flemish-classic design, but with the first attempts at more modern ornament. At the same time, on the other side of the Breestraat, the house known as the Rijnland House 1 was renovated with the façade which still distinguishes it, and a year later the Triviale School was built, very much in the same style.
The number of new buildings was constantly added to after the extension of the town in 1610, and in 1640 the Lakenhal, or Clothworkers’ Hall, was built in the new suburb ; it is typical of the Dutch style of the middle of the seventeenth century, free from all Flemish influence. We see from the ornament and detail that the architect had the buildings of Amsterdam in his mind. This is further seen in the two new churches subsequently erected, the Marekerk and the Waardkerk; the Waardkerk being almost a copy, somewhat simplified, of the Zuiderkerk at Amsterdam. The same influence is evident in the dwelling-houses of that date, and it contributed largely to stamp on Leyden the aspect it even now bears.
And while the town was thus being beautified with fine façades, equal care was given to tasteful decoration within. Rich carpets and furniture adorned the reception-rooms of every Corporation. It is beyond the scope of this work to enlarge on the progress of the industrial arts in Leyden, but the subject is worthy of study. We have only to recall the statue in carved wood of Juslitia, which stood in the Court of Justice, the fine carving of the mantelpieces in the Town Hall and the Rijnlandshuis, and the tapestry of The Relief of Leyden, now in the Municipal Museum. The carillons in the towers of the Town Hall and of the Silkworkers’ Hall date from this time, and are mentioned with admiration by many travellers.
We must restrict ourselves here to the progress of the painter’s art, not merely to estimate the interest taken in it by the Government and citizens, but also to form some idea of what works of art were to be seen in Leyden, as a possible encouragement to such a man as Gerard Dou, or as likely to guide his taste in any particular direction.
Leyden, in fact, could boast, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, of various works by earlier masters, which had escaped the “raging torrent of iconoclasm,” as Orlers calls it. Besides The Last judgment by Lucas van Leyden, there were two triptychs and a painting in water-colours by Cornelis Engebrechtsz., and one or more paintings by Jacob Clementsz.,l all of which were preserved in the Town Hall ; two small triptychs in the chapel of the Saint Annahofje, spared by the image-breakers, and a few old pictures in certain hospitals. There were also to be seen here and there in citizens’ houses (in 1640) paintings by Cornelis Kunst, Lucas Cornelisz. de Cock and Aertgen van Leyden, and even an altarpiece by Engebrechtsz, which belonged to the van Lockhorst family. Lucas van Leyden’s Last judgment was especially prized, and the Municipality valued it so highly that an offer from the Emperor Rudolf von Habsburg to buy it for as many gold ducats as would cover it was at once refused.
Presently a demand arose for works by living painters, for the adornment of public and private buildings. Not long before the building of the Silk Hall, the Burgomaster and Alderman Isaac Claesz. Swanenburch had, by the desire of the Municipality, painted six pictures in a set, representing the various processes of the ” drapery-craft.” His son, Claes Isaacsz., a few years later, executed a great mantelpiece for the Burgomasters’ Chamber in the Town Hall, representing the ” history of King Pharaoh in the Red Sea, and the Leading of the Children of Israel in the Desert,” as was set forth in verse above the picture, which has totally disappeared.
In 1605 Pieter van Veen painted The Relief of Leyden to decorate the Town Hall, and twenty-five years later the Municipality ordered ” Jan Lievensz., born a citizen of Leyden,” to paint an incident in the life of Scipio Africanus, ” according to Livius.” In 1664 an Allegory of Peace, by Ferdinand Bol, was added, and a number of cabinet pictures by other painters ; a portrait of Burgomaster J. J. Orlers, by A. de Vries ; and pictures by Flinck, A. Brouwer and van Toi, a flower-piece by Mignon, etc., now all in the Municipal Museum. The ” Great School ” also had a picture, representing Human Life, painted to order by Joris van Schooten in 1624 for the Government, at the price of 100 gulden. This, too, is now in the Municipal Museum.
When the new Cloth Hall was built, in 1640, it was adorned within, as the old hall had been, with paintings of symbolical subjects referring to the cloth trade, and other pictures found a place on its walls.
The Dyke Reeves of the Rijnland in like fashion decorated their new hall with pictures. They not only ” caused to be painted and baked twelve ovals (of glass) with coats of arms ” for the windows of the great hall, which may still be seen there, and adorned every part with carved work and images, but they commanded pictures to be painted, especially for the great meeting or boardroom. Thus, in 1654, Ceasar van Everdingen painted, for 1,200 gulden, a large piece representing Count William II. granting their old privileges to certain nobles of the Rijnland. Dirk Maes also painted a picture for them ; Jan Lievens executed a piece for the mantel representing Justitia, and his son, Jan André Lievens, in 1666, painted a picture with a Mathematicus put in by his father. And they added the still fine painted ceiling of the great hall, and many other pictures.
Though allegorical and historical paintings had been preferred for these decorative works, in the library and the Doelen portraits predominated. The library had a large number of portraits which for the most part are still to be seen there. Two fulllength figures represented William the Silent and Maurice, while the walls ” were adorned and hung with various effigies or counterfeits ” of other gentlemen, ” professors in Leyden or other learned men.” In the Doelen were the seven archery pieces by Joris van Schooten, containing the ” counterfeits of all the officers of seven companies of the archers,” which, with an eighth by the same hand, and some portraits painted in 1657 by Jac. van der Merck, are all preserved in the Municipal Museum.
The directors of hospitals and of the Courts of Justice, and the masters of the guilds and other societies also encouraged portrait painting in Leyden. Great numbers of such pictures are to be seen in the Museum ; among the most important are the portraits of the Governors of the Pest-house, by A. C. Beeldemaker, 1667 ; of those of the Orphanage of the Holy Ghost, by Abraham van den Tempel, 1669 ; and of the St. Cecilia refuge, by J. de Vos, 1662 ; and as several independent portraits are also preserved in the Municipal Museum at Leyden, it is evident that the magnates of the town gave the portrait-painters plenty of work.
Pictures of genre, landscapes and still-life, besides sacred subjects, were also to be found in these institutions ; many of these have disappeared, but no less than ten remain of those from the St. Cecilia refuge, and five from that of Jan Michiel, all now to be seen in the Municipal Museum.
But the citizens, even more than the city magnates, ere long began to collect pictures. The number of amateurs steadily increased in Leyden. There were already several collections in Holland by the end of the sixteenth century, especially at Amsterdam; and by the middle of the seventeenth new purchasers constantly appeared, mostly rich merchants of the Hague and other cities ; and Leyden could count many ” lovers of painting ” among her citizens.
Arent van Buchel, a lawyer of Utrecht, himself a collector, has left a record from which we learn the names of these amateurs. He was in the habit of visiting Leyden, and knew several of them. Cornelis Boissens, an engraver, was his very good friend ; he chiefly collected prints, but also had some drawings which were subsequently engraved, and a few pictures. It is not always quite clear from Buchel’s account (written in 1622) which were which ; but besides drawings by Italian and German masters, he owned examplespaintings, drawings or engravingsof the old Leyden masters, Lucas and Aertgen.
Johan Overbeeck collected paintings only. In his notes for 1626 and 1628 Buchel mentions, as belonging to him, pictures by Rubens, Coninxloo and others less famous, while the modern school was represented by Percellis and Bailly, who had executed portraits of Overbeeck and his wife in pen and ink, in which Bailly was peculiarly skilled. Orlers tells us that he began in 1623 ” to make certain persons in small with the pen … very curiously and properly wrought.”
Theodorus Screvelius, Rector of the Triviale School, had a small but important collection. He had previously lived at Haarlem and bought most of his pictures there. He had been painted with his wife by Verspronck, and he himself sat also to Frans Hals and to a third painter, of Haarlem. He, too, had some works by Bailly. The lawyer Heer Backer, in 1622, had but one portrait, and as far as we know not a single work by any Leyden painter ; Rubens, Frans Floris and Titian, are the most famous names in his catalogue. Indeed, only one of the collectors enumerated by Buchel, the wine merchant, Schellinger, had been painted with his family by a Leyden artist, Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburch. We can, how-ever, gather from these unconnected notes that there were several amateurs and certainly two collectors in Leyden, Boissens and Johan Overbeeck, who probably encouraged the native painters ; Overbeeck certainly did, for in 1642 Angel dedicated to him his ” Praise of the Painter’s Art,” which treats chiefly of Art in Leyden.
Beyond the information to be obtained from Buchel’s notes little is known about the collectors in Leyden. We are incidentally informed that Scriverius had some interesting pictures ; his own portrait by Frans Hals (now in the Warneck Collection, Paris), Three Musicians, by the same painter, and works by Rembrandt, Lievens, Wouwerman and others. Many of the painters of Leyden possessed and dealt in works of art.
It may be inferred, however, that about 1630 the Leyden portrait-painters were those who were chiefly employed there, and that van Schooten, and more especially Bailly, were in considerable request. But by about 1650 the younger generation of painters began to be patronized ; two gentlemen of Leyden, Dirck van der Snoeck, a surgeon, and Simon van Swieten, a brewer, about this time owned works by Hendr van Steenwijck ; and pictures by Leyden painters were included in collections such as that of Simon van Vliedthoorn.
The best known collection is the ” Cabinet de Bye,” formed at this time and exhibited at Leyden, which consisted exclusively of works by Gerard Dou. This painter was the first of the younger generation who was not compelled by lack of employment to remove else-where, as Rembrandt and van Goyen had been obliged to do. There seemed to be no room for a portrait-painter in rivalry with Bailly, and a landscape-painter had even less chance of success. Dou, the first painter to reside permanently in Leyden, was also the first to form a school there which gave a strong impetus to the evolution of domestic genre.
The first writer to name the great collector, Johan de Bye, was Monsieur de Monconys in his diary.’ This gentleman was at Leyden on the 17th of August, 1663, and visited not only the chief sights of the town but also the most noted painters, and finally went to see M. de Bye (whom he calls Beyau), since he had ” a great many pictures by Dou.” M. de Bye was an amateurs, and collector, who was also a dealer. There were many men of this type at the time ; indeed, if we may believe Sorbière, every Dutchman who owned a picture was ready to part with it for a sufficient sum. ” The Dutch make a sort of traffic in pictures,” says this acute observer, ” and only put much money into them in order to get more than they have paid ; good pictures form a part of their inheritance, and they have none that are not for sale or exchange. I have seen 6,000 francs’ worth in a bookseller’s room, who would not have ventured to have a hanging worth a hundred crowns. And if they collect more pictures than rich jewels, and value them more highly than precious stones, it is only by reason that fine pictures are a greater pleasure to the eye, and are more ornamental” ; and he compares this fancy with that for tulips, which ” a few years since everyone had in his garden, where now they plant cabbages and turnips.”
Spiering, Dou’s first patron, Becker and Maerten Kretzer, who gave commissions by contract to several painters, Vredenburg, Gerards, Sylvius, who encouraged Frans van Mieris, and many more who set up as patrons, also did business in works of art, and sometimes took advantage of the artists’ poverty. Besides this private picture-selling there was room for acknowledged dealers, who had ” picture-shops ” in the towns, or travelled from place to place purchasing and selling as they went. It was this widespread commerce in works of art which ultimately led to the reorganization of various Guilds of St. Luke.
Early in the seventeenth century the trade in pictures, chiefly carried on by men who had been painters, had extended northward from its headquarters at Antwerp, especially to Amsterdam. Harmen Jansz. Muller, Johannes de Renialme, and Rembrandt’s friends, Abraham Francen and Hendrik Uylenburch, were well known dealers there, and Uylenburch’s son, Gerrit, was recognized as the foremost dealer in the country. It was he who was commissioned to deliver the works of art sent from Holland to Charles II. in 1660. He was, however, certainly fraudulent ; he not only employed ” young artists to copy pictures,” but he passed off the copies as originals, as appears from the fierce dispute over the genuineness of no less than thirteen Italian pictures sold by him in 1671 to the Elector of Brandenburg.
From other cases we are indeed led to the conclusion that forgeries were commoner then even than now. Jan Pietersz. Zomer, a wellknown dealer in Amsterdam, at the end of the seventeenth century seems to have been skilled in the ascription of pictures to famous masters,
” In art a perfect John the Baptist,”
as a poet said of him. It is to be feared that the painters of the time had too much reason to endorse the opinion of Houbraken and other Dutch writers, and that many a poor artist worked, as Campo Weyerman says, ” for an usurious soul, who first consumes the painter’s flesh, and afterwards cracks the bones of some lover of art to suck out the warm marrow.”
It is to be regretted that hardly any description or representation exists of a ” picture-shop ” of the period : I know but of one, in the National Museum at Amsterdam (without a number). On the right of this picture we see a shop, such as the booksellers’ shops, of which we have numerous representations. Above the door is a coat of armsazure, three shields argentwhile in the window-front, and leaning against the door-post, pictures are displayed ; others hang by a rope from the first-floor window. This evidently represents a typical ” art depot ” of the period. Some of these dealers sold statues as well as paintings, prints and sketches ; this seems to have been the case with Gerrit Uylenburch. At Dordrecht most of the painters kept shops where they sold other pictures besides their own ; in other towns there were regular dealers, with whom artists deposited their works for sale.
Very little is known of the picture trade in Leyden during the seventeenth century. Besides an inventory which affords the name of one Andries Veer, as a dealer in works of art, and a passage in Houbraken, whence it appears that Karel de Moor’s father was a picture-dealer in Leyden, the only source of information is a ” Painters’ Account-book,”‘ recording the various pieces bought or sold by artists, dealers and collectors between 1644 and 1647. Among those who did most business during these three years it is interesting to find the painters Ph. Angel, David Bailly and Maerten Fransz. de Hulst, sometimes selling their own works but generally those of other painters. The famous amateur, Dr. Hoogeveen, is also found engaged in the business : he sold no less than fourteen drawings by van Goyen and Rembrandt in the course of these three years.
At Haarlem pictures were commonly disposed of by lottery. The lotteries were organized by the St. Luke’s Guild there, and the value of the examples was assessed by wellknown painters. After the lottery a dinner was given out of the profits. The same was done at the Hague ; and the reason is obviousthe production of pictures was too great and inadequately paid ; many painters had their works left on their hands, and some were in great poverty and unable to maintain themselves by painting.
They could sometimes earn a little by decorating a sleigh, a chest, a clavicembalo, or the like, or by painting signs, of which an Englishman wrote : ” And if you want their language, you may learn a great deale in their Sign posts for what they are they do write under them.”
Many a clever painter thus employed his brush, and sometimes a pleasing work might be seen hanging out as a sign. Sorbière also speaks of the “shops where the signs are sometimes very good pictures.”
Another means of making money, adopted chiefly by engravers, was to offer prints to a municipality, to a prince, or to anyone who might be interested in a portrait, for which they received some return in money or in kind. Boissens, for instance, offered his plates to the Town Council of Leyden, and A. J. Stock frequently sent his to the magistrates of Haarlem in the hope of payment.
Popular subjects were frequently repeated : portraits of Prince William, Prince Maurice and Prince Frederick Henry, incidents of the war (1560- 1605), and series symbolical of the Four Seasons or the Five Senses, were always saleable. Some artists tried to win the favour of a portion of the public by painting indecent subjects, and Torrentius of Amsterdam carried this traffic so far that he was forbidden to paint or sell such works, and was punished for recalcitrancy by torture, whereof he died. His paintings were publicly burnt in 1640. But though extreme licence was thus severely checked, many painters found purchasers for kindred subjects. Buffooneries and tavern scenes had a ready market, and pictures representing animals, especially cats and monkeys in grotesque employments. In these Teniers was successful, and we see from the replicas of his Temptation of St. Anthony, and the numerous Ayes Kitchens by him and his imitators, that such “drolleries” were popular. Van de Venne, the painter-poet, describes and engraves such a picture by himself; ‘ but this pandering to the humour of the public was not permanently successful, and van de Venne was obliged to have a sale of all his works. The same fate, it is true, attended van Goyen and other painters, who sold their works in lots at the Hague. Others disposed of their pictures by lottery, and many a painter was compelled to take his work to a speculative dealer, who secured it for a song.’
The pictures which thus came into the dealers hands were displayed in their shops among articles of furniture of all kinds, and were in fact regarded as part of it. We see in many paintings of the period what such a shop must have looked like. In a picture by David Vinckboons, which is valuable in many ways as illustrating a Dutch seventeenth-century fair, we see a booth where pikes and halberds, musical instruments, cloaks and pictures are on sale : a pair of portraitsa man and a womanthree small and two large landscapes, at one of which two men are gazing.’ In a print by Ad. van de Venne we see pictures for sale among dishes, glasses and cans. Indoors, as well as out of doors, were pictures for sale, as for instance in the great entrance hall of the Town Hall at Leyden, where, as Orlers tells us, ” twice a year, in open market, many costly silver vessels were for sale, artistic paintings and many books.” From a line in van de Venne’s poem we learn that the same was done at the Hague.
Important in this connection is a passage from Evelyn’s Diary, August 13th, 1641: ” Roterdam … where was their annual marte or faire, so furnished with pictures (especially Landscapes and Drolleries as they call those clounish representations) that I was amaz’d. Some I bought and sent into England. The reson of this store of pictures, and their cheapness, proceedes from their want of land to employ their stock, so that it is an ordinary thing to find a common Farmer lay out two or £3,000 in this commodity. Their houses are full of them, and they vend them at their fairs to very great gains.” Though Evelyn may somewhat exaggerate, it is evident that the over-production was considerable, and that the pictures were not all of the first quality ; and he gives a vivid idea of the vast output of painting in his day.
Another Englishman has recorded his impression of the quantity of pictures in the houses of the citizens of Leyden : “The interior of the Dutch houses is yet more rich than their outside ; not in hangings, but in pictures which the poorest there are furnished with all, not a cobbler but hath his toyes for ornament.”
It is evident that as pictures and prints were the only adornment of the walls, even artisans and peasants must have owned some, and that they must have been procurable of the poorest quality and at the lowest price.
But there were also collectors for profit and for love of art, and, as we have seen, Sorbière writes of what he calls ” l’excessive curiosité pour les peintures.” In one of his letters he speaks, too, of the good pictures and remarkable collections he finds in the Netherlands, wherever he may go.
Nor is it only from the authors and documents of the time that we learn how vast a mass of pictures was produced. In the pictures themselves we see how the dwelling-rooms were lined with them. Apart from the important collections depicted, for instance, by Teniers, we get a good idea of the decorative use made of pictures in every class of society, from the wealthy patrician to the mere peasant, by studying the interiors by Metsu, Gonzales Coques, de Hooch, Dirk Hals, Jan Steen and many less famous painters.
It is interesting to note that a customary order of arrangement was recognized. Where there was but one picture, in the seventeenth century it would generally be hung above the fireplace or chimney-shelf. In pictures by Metsu or Terburg, which introduce us to the higher class, this is as evident as in those by Ad. van de Venne, who, in his illustrations to Cats’ ” Houwelycken Staat,” shows us the rooms of the humbler citizen. Pictures are also seen hanging above the door of the room, and in many cases are placed very high because the lower part of the walls is covered ‘with tapestry.’ Still, even when the walls are bare, as in some pictures by Metsu, and especially by de Hooch, they are hung very high, why we know not ; it was the fashion of the time.
There was a fashion, too, for pictures not of the usual rectangular form : oval, especially for portraits ; round, chiefly for landscapes ; octagonal for feasts and dances and arched at the top for genre pictures, were shapes frequently adopted. Frames were commonly added of carved ebony or oak, heightened with gilding. Sometimes a curtain protected the picture, or it was fixed into a case with doors. The subjects were, of course, infinitely various. A rich merchant would decorate his dining-room with large pieces by Snijders or Weenix, and landscapes by Both or Hackaert ; in his living rooms he would have portraits, and occasionally some historical, allegorical or mythological picture.
The classical taste imported from France soon affected the choice of subjects in the pictures a man of his time would purchase. The sons of the wealthy class travelled young, visiting France and Italy, and their views of art especially were influenced by what they saw in the south. Not only did they acquire a taste for Italian art, but they showed a preference for landscapes and genre-painting reminiscent of Italy. They would buy a pastoral scene by Berchem or du Jardin, a landscape by Jan Both or Jan Asselyn, a sea-piece by Thomas Wijck, or, if money were plentiful, a larger marine by the ” great Claude Gellée, the French Parrhasius.” Harmen Saftleven, for instance, ” that renowned painter and draughtsman,” as Vondel calls him, found a ready sale for his pictures, his views on the Rhine and Moselle being pleasing souvenirs of travel.
It was a result of these travels, too, that another very distinct branch found rapid development : the elaborate representation of objects of natural history, such as Otto Marseus could paint of butterflies and insects. Such subjects, again, as included elephants, zebras and other foreign beasts were frequently selected : Adam naming the Beasts, or Orpheus charming them, seem often to have been painted for the sake of introducing such strange animals.
A room was generally furnished with one or more pictures illustrating familiar literature. A man of letters would have an episode from ancient history or from medieaval romance ; and in every house, rich or poor, there would be some Bible picture or print. It is note-worthy that the Apocrypha and the Old Testament afforded more subjects than the Gospels. We have, in-deed, the Murder of the Innocents, and the Crucifixion, but on the whole the subjects from the New Testament are lost among those from the Old, except in Rembrandt’s work.’
Landscapes and sea-pieces were also esteemed. A pair was often purchased representing Summer and Winter, Storm and Calm, Before and After the Battle, or a series of the Seasons.
Pictures were not so costly then as they are now ; a very good painting could be purchased for a few florins. A few data from the abundant materials published, more especially in the art periodical ” Oud Holland,” may here be given in evidence.
One of the first things that a Dutch citizen would do if he had a little money to spare was to have his portrait painted, generally with his wife in a companion picture, half-length figures, while in the upper corner their arms were emblazoned. Or, for economy, the head would alone be depicted, larger or smaller, according to the quality and cost ; and there were then, as there are now, painters who asked varying prices in regard to the means of the sitter. Mierevelt, for instance, who worked for the Court, would take as little as 30 gulden, and sometimes was not paid at all ; while one Dirk van Haarlem (known only by this one case when his name is mentioned), who was in favour with rich collectors, received 60 gulden each for his portraits of Maurice and Henry of Nassau, a sum that bears comparison with the prices of our own time, since the value of money was then at least three times as great as now. But that such an artist as Caspar Netscher, whose works were in great demand among the wealthy aristocracy, should have had but 66 gulden for a lady’s portrait in 1664, and no more than 50 for another in 1667, seems rather poor pay. However, they were perhaps on a very small scale.
Princes, no doubt, paid best. Rubens was paid 20,000 French crowns (écus) for the ” Medici-gallery” at which he and his pupils worked from 1622 till 1625. Gonzales Coques, in 1646, had 450 gulden for two portraits ” of the Princess of Orange and the Princess Royal.” Frederick Henry paid Rembrandt 1,244 gulden for two pictures ; and he gave Dirk Bleker 1,700 gulden for a Venus; Rubens, as we know from his letters, waited long for the money.
Historical pictures, as, for instance, those by de Grebber, commanded good prices, and yet more landscapes, especially those in the Italian taste, such as the compositions of Hackaert, du Jardin and Both. But often it is true they were sold by measure like an object of commerce. A striking instance is the agreement with Simon de Vlieger, the well-known marine painter, for the sale of a house for 900 gulden ” to be paid by him monthly by a picture worth one and thirty gulden, neither more nor less, whereof the first month shall begin on the 1st January, 1638, and thenceforward every month. . . . To wit each month a large piece for 31 gulden or else a small panel for 18 gulden with a sea-water panel for 13 gulden ; and good work, such as he does every day for other folk.” Here it is evident size was insisted on more than quality.
Next to portrait-painters, marine painters seem to have been best paid. De Vlieger, for instance, had, in 1646, 280 gulden for a picture measuring 27 X 35 inches, and Percellis’ works were well paid for ; but Potter, and such landscape-painters as Ruysdael, van der Neer, Philips de Koninck, and especially van Goyen, were miserably paid. Once only did van Goyen obtain a good price650 guldenfor the largest piece he ever painted : the great view of the Hague, commanded by the city. For his other pictures he got from 5 to 32 gulden, never more. And painters of still life fared no better. ” Drolleries,” such as Adriaen Brouwer’s, sold well ; but miniature-painters always commanded the highest pricesDou, for instance, Frans van Mieris, Slingelandt, and later more especially van der Werff. Dou got from 600 to 1,000 gulden for a painting, and the others not less, especially when they worked for foreign patrons.
The smallest profit, of course, was made in lotteries, and sales by valuation or by auction. In 1626 van Goyen and Liefrinck valued two pictures by Jan Pinas at 40 and at 36 gulden respectively, at a sale of effects ; the price was thought too high, and the pictures were appraised by an auctioneer, who reduced them by 5 and 8 gulden. At another valuation a work by Bramer was priced at 60 gulden, and one by Adriaen van Ostade at 25. It is, generally speaking, certain that a good picture could be bought then for much less money than now, but as the size of the pictures is seldom mentioned, we must not draw too sweeping conclusions. Copies of inferior quality must ox course have cost very much less, and drawings and prints were cheaper still.
Even in the early years of the seventeenth century complaints were heard of ” the extraordinary manner of selling which obtained at the public sales and auctions,” and of the “lotteries, raffles and all the like kinds of annoying and unwanted strange ways of selling,” which led to ” the disrepute and decay of the arts ” and general “destruction and ruin.”‘ Even the usual methods of sale by commission gave rise to much complaint. But the painters and dealers of the towns where there was no Protection were almost helpless against the dealers who brought their wares for sale in the open market. They were for the most part foreigners, and the works they offered were of poor quality, so that they could sell them rather cheaper than the native dealers, and still get far too high a price. Often, too, as at Amsterdam in 1608, they contrived to run up prices and so to cheat the buyers.
And Amsterdam was the first (November l0th, 1608) to enact that “Strange persons shall not come within this city, and shall not be allowed to sell or to cause anything to be sold without having first obtained permission and consent from their Worships the Burgomasters of this town,” a prohibition made even stricter in 1613 (October l0th). In Delft all art dealings had long been restricted to the members of the Guild of – St. Luke, excepting on payment of certain fines to the guild, ” as established of old, unless at the yearly or weekly fairs.”
Leyden, owing to its halfway position between Amsterdam and the Hague, was much frequented by picture-dealers who came to sell works which they had failed to dispose of elsewhere; and after the law passed in Amsterdam in 1608, the dealers from Brabant and other provinces, being ejected from that city, tried to get rid of their wares in Leyden. Hence, in October, 1609, certain painters of Leyden besought the authorities to prohibit picture-selling except in open market. But though their request was granted, the importation, as at Amsterdam, continued to be so great, that five months later, in April, 1610, the same painters again addressed a complaint to the municipal government desiring the absolute prohibition of any sale of pictures in the town except in open market, and craving permission to found a guild. The petition was signed by seven painters of repute in the town.
From this it is evident that Protection was indeed necessary; that the painters should endeavour to secure it by the formation of a guild was but natural, and that the authorities should have refused the request seems incomprehensible. The status of painting in Leyden at this time is not quite clear ; there had, no doubt, been a guild of St. Luke here, as elsewhere, before the Reformation ; but all traces of it have disappeared, and by the beginning of the seventeenth century its very existence was forgotten. In some other towns the guilds still survived, without, however, any great benefit to the painters ; other crafts were often admitted ; in Haarlem, Delft and Dordrecht, glass-makers and painters, sculptors, wood-carvers, tapestry-weavers, printers, etc., were admitted to the guilds of St. Luke.
The competition of foreign picture-dealers gave rise to a strong movement among the Dutch painters with a view to more effectual self-defence, and in those places where the painters already constituted a strong guild they naturally were not satisfied till prohibitory statutes, as at Delft, effectually secured their interests. In Haarlem the same result was attained in 1631; the St. Luke’s Guild was reorganized, and stringent rules laid down as to the sale and purchase of pictures.
In Dordrecht, where every class of craftsmeneven tinsmiths, potters and plasterersbelonged to the St. Luke’s Guild, the painters desired to secede and in 1642 they constituted a ” simple fraternity”; but in other towns no improvement was made ; and in Amsterdam, notwithstanding the stringency of the rules, they failed to be observed, as may be judged from their frequent renewal.
In Leyden neither the painters nor the glass-workers had any guild. The painters were protected only by the prohibition of 1610; but it did not constitute them an exclusive chartered body. Still, their efforts to form a guild were persevered in, and at last came to a successful issue. In 1642 they obtained fresh rules as to the sale of pictures, and three ” overseers and headmen,” or a syndic and two vice-presidents, were appointed to see that they were carried out. These three were David Bailly, Quirin Ponsz. van Slingelandt and Cornelis Stooter. The increased sale of pictures which resulted ere long gave rise to auctions, at which the syndics presided, and the corporate body was already assuming the character of a guild.
We find in the Painters’ Account-book before mentioned that the sales by auction began on the 23rd November in 1644. Only paintings and drawings were sold, for the most part by artists of Leyden. The highest price paid was twenty gulden and six stuivers for a landscape by Molijn ; the average was no more than seven gulden. A room was hired for the purpose, and refreshmentsbeer and spiced cakesfor the overseers” were provided out of the funds. A fixed sum of sixteen stuivers was then to be subscribed by the members, who soon assumed the name of the ” St. Luycas-Ordre.”
In 1644 Cornelis Stooter was syndic, and there were in all thirty members, among them some famous painters, as Dou, Metsu, du Bordieu and Bailly ; also Dr. Hoogeveen, the collector and dealer, and the book and picture-dealer, Jacob Louwyck.
Not all the painters of Leyden were members, however, and not all the dealers. This, indeed, was the great difficulty, since they, of course, kept up the competition. The ordinance of 1642 could never be effectually carried out, and there were always dealers who disregarded it. Complaints were constantly being made, till in 1648 the syndic and headmen of the Order of St. Luke petitioned the municipal authorities, reprepresenting the intolerable state of things which did great injury to the painters ; and craving the formation of a guild to include all the painters, engravers and art-dealers who were citizens ; they were to pay 30 stuivers a year each, and pupils or apprentices 10 stuivers. Strangers were not to be permitted to paint in the town till they had been enrolled as citizens, under a forfeit of 10 Carolus-gulden.
This petition was granted in March, 1648, and at last the painters of Leyden were at peace, and need no longer fear to have “the bread taken out of their mouths ” by painters from other places.
Whether the formation of the Guild led to social conviviality we know not. The sales were probably better attended, and more members assembled on St. Luke’s Day than in the years between 1642 and 1648. Stooter and Bailly, and after their death (1655 and 1657) Gerard Dou, may have presided as seniors at the table, crowned with a vine wreath, as was the custom of the St. Luke’s Guild at Amsterdam. Be that as it may, Leyden, after 1648, had an independent guild of painters, which protected its members from all external competition.