Yonker Ramp And His Sweetheart – Frans Hals

This picture is of similar type to the Merry Company (No. 21) on the same wall. Yonker Ramp, or Lord Ramp, as it could be translated, must have been a famous roisterer of Harlem in his time, and Hats has left several likenesses of him in various stages of tipsiness. In all probability he was as familiar a figure to the townspeople as was Hille Bat be, the old fishwife whose jolly and dissipated personality is preserved in several famous canvases, one of which, the property of the Museum, is shown in Gallery 26. E. W. Moes calls the rubicund gentleman of the Merry Company, Yonker Ramp, but he and the young man of this picture could not be the same. Even were the Merry Company as late as the Yonker Ramp and his Sweetheart, which latter is signed and dated 1623, instead of being several years earlier, as is the case, the difference in ages between the two precludes the possibility, the red-faced man being well past middle age, and in this work Yonker Ramp is in his first manhood. The picture shows him shouting out a drinking song as he holds up a glass of wine while a hilarious young woman with her arm around his neck cuddles as near him as his great feathered felt hat will allow.

The speed of the painting is bewildering, but the brush strokes are dashed on the canvas with perfect sureness in spite of it. As in the Merry Company, certain parts bear witness to a calmer and more considered handling, such, for instance, as the hand holding the glass (the awkward placing of which shows the lack of deliberation in the conception of the composition), the dog the young man fondles, and the fireplace and raftered ceiling beyond the wall. But the figures, the heads particularly, might have been finished before Ramp finished his song.

In the catalogue of Mme. Copes van Hasselt, Harlem, 1880, this work appears under the moral title of Vive la Fidélité, but more in the spirit of the work is the name given to it in 1 786 when sold with the collection of J. Enschedé, Harlem, Jonker Ramp en zyne Liebste, Lord Ramp and his Mistress. At the Enschedé sale it fetched 21 florins Io sols. The picture was lately in the Pourtalès Collection in Paris. A replica in the J. P. Hasteltine Collection, London, has a curtain instead of the wall back of the figures.