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Jan Philipsz. van Bouckhorst (Haarlem circa 1588-1631)

Aeneas carries his father Anchises

signed and dated ‘JBHorst 1616’
pen and brown ink, grey wash, brown ink framing lines
27.1 x 10.7 cm

Dr. N. Meyer (1775-1855), Bremen (L. 1812).

The drawn œuvre of the Haarlem-based artist Jan Philipsz. van Bouckhorst is diverse both in subject and style, reflecting influences from his contemporaries including Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), Jacques de Gheyn II (1565-1629) and Willem Buytewech (1591/92-1624), resulting in an original and varied corpus of drawings ranging from portraits and head studies to mythological and biblical scenes. Bouckhorst often signed and dated his drawings, with the earliest known from 1612, and the latest from 1629. [1] The present work was executed in 1616 and shows the artist’s characteristic bold yet fluent penwork combined with loosely applied wash. It depicts the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas when he fled Troy while carrying his father Anchises on his back as told by Virgil in his Aeneid. A drawing executed in the same year as the present work which shows the same confident use of wash and bold penwork is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. [2]

Besides being a draughtsman, Bouckhorst was also active as a printmaker and glasspainter. While four prints by the artist are known today [3] none of his glassworks seems to have survived. One of his glassworks, however, is known through an engraving by Willem Outgertsz. Akersloot (1600-circa 1651) after a now destroyed window that depicted The Siege of Damiate in the Haarlem Town Hall. [4] The print was published in the 1628 edition of Samuel Ampzing’s Beschryvinge ende Lof der Stad Haarlem. Ampzing praised Bouckhorst’s art highly as is attested by the following verse:

‘Jan Bouchorst sal dijn naem niet eeuwelijk beklijven?
Wat sijt gy in de konst van teyk'nen kloek, en vast! […]
Het glas is broose waer: uw glasen mogen breken
Noch salmen niettemin van Bouchorst altijd spreken:’ [5]

[Jan Bouckhorst, will your name not always be remembered?
You are in the art of drawing bold and steady
The glass is fragile; your glasses might break
However, your name shall always be remembered]

The above words turned out to be remarkably true and it is only through Ampzing’s words, records from the Sint-Lucasgilde in Haarlem and the above-mentioned print by Akersloot that we know of Bouckhorst’s activity as a glasspainter at all. No studies for glass work are known to have survived, but the odd rectangular shape in combination with the horizontal line through the centre of the present drawing makes one wonder whether it could in fact have been intended as a design for a small glass panel.

While the final work for which the present drawing was a study is unknown, it was recently suggested by Gert-Jan van de Sman that it must have been executed for a member of the rederijkerskamer ‘Trou moet Blijcken’, known as the Pellicanists, in Haarlem. This society of gentlemen interested in poetry and theatre was founded in 1503 and still exists today. As observed by Van der Sman, the composition with Aeneas carrying his father Anchises as well as the pelican picking its chest to feed her chicks relate to those on a blazon for ‘Trou moet Blijcken’ executed by Frans Pietersz. de Grebber after Hendrick Goltzius (fig. 1.). [7] Furthermore, two blazons for ‘Trou moet Blijcken’, both designed by Goltzius and both showing the same composition with the pelican as well as Aeneas and Anchises, are known through engravings by Jacob Matham. These close relationships demonstrate that Bouckhorst must have worked for either a member of ‘Trou moet Blijcken’ or for the rederijkerskamer itself. Whoever commissioned the present drawing, the sheet gives a fascinating insight in the working methods of Bouckhorst and offers a fascinating glimpse of cultural life Haarlem at the beginning of the 17th Century.

[1] M. Schapelhouman, 'Oude tekeningen in het bezit van de Gemeentemusea van Amsterdam waaronder de collectie Fodor. Tekeningen van Noord- en Zuidnederlandse kunstenaars geboren voor 1600', Amsterdam, 1979, pp. 20-21.
[2] Inv. RP-T-1918-117
[3] F.W.H. Hollstein, 'Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700, Boekhorst-Brueghel', Amsterdam, 1949, nos. 1-4.
[4] See Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. RP-P-OB-78.094.
[5] S. Ampzing, 'Beschryvinge ende Lof der Stad Haarlem', Haarlem, 1628, p. 373.
[6] A. van der Willigen, 'Les artistes de Harlem. Notices historiques avec un précis sur la gilde de st. Luc', Haarlem and The Hague, 1870, pp. 87-88.
[7] H. Leeflang and G. Luijten et al., 'Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617). Tekeningen, Prenten en Schilderijen', exhib. cat., Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum and elsewhere, 2003-2004, p. 20, fig. 14.

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