Peter Nolpe, 1642.
This oil sketch also served as a design, in reverse, for one of a series of six engravings by Peter Nolpe for Samuel Coster’s fête book published in 1642 to commemorate Henrietta Maria’s entry (fig. 1).3 It remains one of only two extant oil sketches for Nolpe’s engravings. The other, which depicts Perseus and Andromeda (An Allegory of Prince Frederik Hendrik’s Liberation of the Netherlands), is the only of the series by another hand (Pieter Symondsz. Potter) and can be found today in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (fig. 2).
The monograms on Nolpe’s prints from the series suggest most of the designs were conceived by a certain “I.W,” a monogram once linked to other artists including Jacob de Wet. More recently, it has been suggested by Sluijter that it belongs to the young and talented Jan (Baptist) Weenix, who very early in his career is known to have closely imitated the style of his teacher Claes Moeyaert, one of the most prolific history painters in Amsterdam in the first half of the seventeenth century.4 Moeyaert was traditionally involved in the designs of many of the joyous entries into Amsterdam, including the festivities planned in honor of Marie de Medici’s visit to Amsterdam in 1638, and it seems very probably he was also involved in the decorations of Henrietta Maria's entry a few years later in 1642.5 Weenix was one of the most talented students working in Moyaert's studio at this time, and could have very likely assisted with the project. Indeed, an echo of Moyaert's technique is visible in the present sketch, but at the same time it illustrates the same lively brushwork, energetic movement, dramatic lighting and contours, and conception of space that would define Weenix’s later and more recognized output.
Intricately carved with cocle shells and other ornaments, the dark wood frame that adorns the present painting can be closely compared to the elaborate frame that surrounds Rombout Verhulst’s terracotta study for the tomb of the Dutch naval hero, Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp. Verhulst’s study, which was completed in 1654, is located in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. no. BK-NM-4352),6 while the completed marble tomb is in the Oude Kerk, Delft.
1. At Charles I’s request, Henrietta Maria had journeyed to Amsterdam with her young daughter, Mary Stuart, as well as William II (Mary’s new husband), and his parents, Frederik Hendrik of Orange and Amalia van Solms, who had arranged the politically ambitious marriage.
2. According to legend, when sailing home from a tour, Arion was robbed by a group of sailors who were after the treasure he had amassed. Facing certain death, Arion begged the sailors to let him sing with his lyre. Mid-song, he jumped overboard, but a dolphin, charmed by the sound of his voice and lyre, carried him to safety.
3. See S. Coster and P. Nolpe, Beschrivinge vande Blyde Inkoomste: Rechten van Zeege-bogen en ander toestel op de Wel-koomste van Haare Majesteyt van Groot-Britanien, Vrankryk, en Jerland. Tot Amsterdam, Den 20 May, 1642, Amsterdam 1642. In addition to a detailed map of Amsterdam, Coster’s book included illustrations of the four tableaux vivants planned for a group of triumphal arches and the two planned for the water (the present lot and the version in Amsterdam). The four tableaux vivants planned for the triumphal arches included The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis (A prefiguration of the Marriage of William II and Mary Stuart), The Treaty of Adolf van Nassau, The Marriage of Reinout II of Egmond and Eleonora Plantagenet, and The Marriage of James II of Scotland and Maria van Egmond. For engravings of these works, see D.P. Snoep, Praal en propaganda, Triumfalia in de Noordelijke Nederlanden in de 16de en 17de eeuw, Alphen aan de Rijn 1975, pp. 64-76.
4. See E.J. Sluijter, in Literature.
5. Images of these Medici designs were engraved by Peter Nolpe in Caspar Barlaeus’ book Medicea Hospes.
6. See K. Zandvliet, De 250 rijksten van de Gouden Eeuw, Amsterdam 2006, pp. 180-183, cat. no. 100, reproduced.
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