top of page

Aert Schouman (Dordrecht 1710-1792)

A view of Delft after the explosion of 12 October 1654

traces of black chalk, point of the brush and grey ink, watermark Strasbourg lily, pen and brown ink framing lines
inscribed ‘Ruine Binne DELFT Veroorsaakt Door ’t Springen Van t Cruyd Huys. Den 12 octob: 1654. Daniel Vosmar. Fecit.’ (recto) and with inscription ‘A. Schouman naar het schilderij/ van Daniel Vosmaer.’ and ‘fago’ (verso) and with inscription ‘Delft.’ and ‘A. Schouman naar D. Vosmar.’ (on the old mount)
21 x 33 cm.

Arnold Mos and Dr. J. Nieuwehuizen Kruseman; R.W.P. de Vries, 7-8 November 1928, lot 1135 (‘DELFT. Ruïne buiten Delft veroorsaakt door ’t springen van ’t Cruyd Huys, 12 Oct. 1654. Teek. in O.-I. inkt naar D. Vosmar d. A. Schouman. H. 20.5, br. 32 c.M.’; 11 guilders’).

The so-called Delft Explosion, of which the aftermath is shown here in meticulous detail, took place on 12 October 1654. It was caused by an inspector who walked into the city’s gun powder storage with a lantern, destroying a quarter of the city and leaving over one hundred people dead and thousands injured. Amongst its famous victims was one of Rembrandt’s most talented pupils, Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) whose entire studio was destroyed by the explosion. Soon after the event took place two Delft artists, Egbert van der Poel (1621-1664) (a neighbour of Fabritius) and Daniel Vosmaer (1622-1666) captured the explosion and the damage it caused in a large number of paintings. As the inscription on the present drawing suggests it records one of Daniel Vosmaer’s versions of the scene, most likely the version now in the Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft to which it closely corresponds (Fig. 1). [1]
While Schouman is primarily known today for his drawings of birds and flowers, he did produce a large number of drawings after 17th century artists.[2] This aspect of his work was already celebrated during the artist’s lifetime, as is attested by an observation from 1787 by Johannes Florentinus Martinet who wrote in his Historie der waereld ‘AART SCHOUMAN, beroemd door Vogels te schilderen, heeft daarin geen weegaê, gelyk ook wanneer hy de Schilderyen der beste Vaderlandsche Meesters met sapverwen navolgt.’[3] Schouman was not alone in producing this type of drawing; from the 18th century drawings after paintings, mostly by 17th century artists, had become a popular genre. These drawings were often ordered by collectors who either wanted a drawn version of a painting from their own collection or, as was more often the case, from someone else’s collection. Schouman’s drawings after paintings became so popular during his lifetime that the prices for them paid at auction sometimes surpassed prices paid for the paintings after which they were made. [4]

I am grateful to Charles Dumas for confirming the attribution to Aert Schouman.

Fig. 1. Daniel Vosmaer, A view of Delft after the explosion of 12 October 1654, oil on panel, 72 x 97 cm.

[1] D.H.A.C. Lokin, ‘Gezichten op en in Delft van 1650-1675’, in 'Delftse Meesters, Tijdgenoten van Vermeer', exhib. cat., Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, 1996, p. 97, fig. 79.; inv. PDS 107.
[2] C. Dumas, ‘Natekeningen van oude meesters’, in 'Een Koninklijk Paradijs. Aert Schouman en de verbeelding van de natuur', exhib. cat., Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, 2017, p. 277.
[3] J.F. Martinet, 'Historie der waereld', vol. VIII, Amsterdam, 1787, p. 532.
[4] C. Dumas, 'op. cit'., p. 278.

bottom of page