Dutch Duo-painting of a portrait and a marine

Dutch Duo-painting of a portrait and a marine

Price: Price on request

Offered by Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

Dutch Duo-painting of a portrait and a marine Dutch Duo-painting of a portrait and a marine

Recycling or the sustainable reuse of materials is something of all ages, and this duo painting proves it. In about 1655-1660 a portrait of an unknown man was painted on panel. Some 30 to 40 years later, a fragment of this portrait was cut out and a seascape painted over it. What prompted the reuse of the panel by painting over this portrait can only be speculated on.

The head of the portrayed unknown man is turned slightly to the left. Judging by his elegant clothes and hairstyle, he undoubtedly belonged in the environment of a fashion-conscious middle class. Although only a fragment of a once larger portrait that has been cropped is visible, a flat collar of subtle translucent lace with a rim of coarser lace is visible. This type of collar was fashionable in the period 1640-1660. The man has a mustache, a goatee and his dark hair is medium length to just above the shoulders, as became popular among the affluent younger inhabitants of the Republic from the second half of the 17th century.

In the painting style and rendering of details in the portrait, the influence of Isaack Luttichuys (London 1616 – 1673 Amsterdam) is noticeable. Popular in his own time, but less well-known nowadays, this artist was born in London but later settled in Amsterdam. There he was trained as a portrait painter in the early 1630s, in the years when Rembrandt’s star was rising on the Amsterdam portrait market. The choice for a specialization in portraiture was not unwise. Portraiture established itself as an important specialization in the prosperous Dutch Republic of the 17th century. For countless painters, commissioned portraits were the main source of income. The very large number of clients, concentrated in the major cities of Amsterdam, Leiden and The Hague, was related to the rise of trade and the structure of government. The demand must have been almost insatiable. Isaack spent most of his life in Amsterdam, where he was mainly active as a portraitist until his death in 1673.

Isaack Luttichuys' most successful and productive period as an artist was from the early 1650s to the late 1660s. In this period solid forms and outlines, a cool tonality and clear daylight, had replaced Rembrandt’s more painterly manner, warm colours and chiaroscuro effects. A number of features of the portrait of an unknown man are reminiscent of the style of Luttichuys' portraits from these years. The face of the sitter, illuminated from the top left, is delicately modeled by light and shadows. Carefully executed light yellow brushstrokes in the skin tones of the face create an even but lively surface. Also characteristic is the emphasis on the eyes, using sharp contour lines and light reflections with, along the lower lid, a white or light bluish stroke imitating the shiny surface of the eyeball. The lips are pronounced, ending in straight dark lines on the sides. Most striking is the way in which the strands of brown hair falling to the shoulders are executed: finely painted but with vague contours and smoothed out.

It is not entirely clear when exactly or why the portrait was cut out, flipped 90 degrees and painted over with a marine. However, the marine’s characteristics points towards the style of another Amsterdam based artist: Ludolf Bakhuizen (Emden 1630-1708 Amsterdam).

Bakhuizen was one of the foremost painters of shipping and marine subjects in seventeenth-century Holland. According to Arnold Houbraken, the biographer of seventeenth-century Dutch painters, he began his career as a pupil of Allart van Everdingen and later of Hendrick Dubbels. With the resumption of hostilities between the Netherlands and England in 1672 and the van de Veldes moving to England, Bakhuizen became the pre-eminent marine painter in Amsterdam. His success brought him to the attention of many of the leading patrons of Europe.

Although the relatively calm blue sky in the present marine does not look ominous, we see a fisherboat, a pink and a so called ‘wijdschip’ in choppy water, caught in a fierce battle with the elements. A sharp sidelight pours through the billowing sails of the vessels, their colour shimmering in the white caps of the waves with splashing foam. The effect of light on the silverish grey-green waves increase the sense of depth within the composition.
This marine is reminiscent of Van Bakhuizen’s compositions developed after 1665, where his colours became brighter and the atmosphere more dramatic. Unlike the Van de Veldes, who were more concerned with representing the technical aspects of sailing vessels and naval battles, Bakhuizen depicted the perpetually changing climate and the magnificent skies of the Netherlands. Houbraken underlined how Bakhuizen was attracted in particular to painting storms. The present work dates to the last decades of Bakhuizen's career. He had foregone the silvery, monochromatic works of his earlier career in favor of the brighter colors visible here.

The portrait in this duo painting must have been well hidden for the larger part of its existence. The auction catalogue of John Morant e.a. (Anon. dat.), Sotheby London, 17 October 1952, mentions a marine by Ludolf Bakhuizen from the collection of H.W. Leigh-Bennett of the same size and subject, but has no remarks on a portrait. This means that before 1952 the portrait had not been made visible yet.


A. Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlandtsche kontschilders en schilderessen, Amsterdam, II, 1718-21, pp. 236-44.
W.R. Valentiner, 'Isaac Luttichuys. A little known Dutch portrait painter', in: The Art Quarterly, 1/3, 1938, pp. 177-8.
G. de Beer, Ludolf Backhuysen (1630-1708): Sein Leben und Werk, Zwolle, 2002.
Bernd Ebert, Simon und Isaack Luttichuys: Monographie mit kritischem Werkverzeichnis, Berlin/Munich 2009, pp. 33-44, 54-58.
Carina Fryklund, ‘Two Male Portraits by Dutch Artists’, Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Volume 23 (2016), pp. 13-18.

Private collection H.W. Leigh-Bennett, Wickham House (Newbury), around 1885; Auction John Morant e.a. (Anon. dat.), Sotheby London, 17 October 1952, no. 121. (Fichecoll. Cornelis Hofstede de Groot)
17th century
oil on panel
27 x 33.9 cm

Offered by

Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

Postbus 171
5688 ZK Oirschot
The Netherlands

+31 499578037
+31 655822218

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