17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings

Marienhof, Aert Jansz.
8.800 €

Christ blessing the children
Oil on panel : 49,4 X 63,9 cm
Signed and dated lower right “A. marienhof / 1649”
Frame : 64,6 X 78,7 cm

In short
Marienhof, a specialist of religious painting, died at a very young age in Brussels, after having started his career in his native Utrecht.
On his way to Jerusalem Christ blessed babies and young children brought to him by their mothers.
About Aert Jansz. Marienhof
Dutch painter
Utrecht circa 1626 – after 1652 Brussels
Painter of religious scenes and of genre scenes in a religious context and/or in landscapes. A few portraits and a single still life are also known.
Son of the glass painter Jan Aertsz. Marienhof.
Some paintings by Jan have erroneously been given to his father Aert, because of the inversion of their first and second name: 
- our painter is Aert Jansz., that is Aert, son of Jan;
- his father was Jan Aertsz., that is Jan, son of Aert; thus our painter had received the same first name as his grandfather: Aert.
Our painter is documented in his native Utrecht between 1640 and 1648, and then in Brussels between 1648 and 1651. 
Dated works are known between 1646 and 1652.
Marienhof is thought to have died at a very young age in Brussels. 
Marienhof was, according to the painter’s biographer Arnold Houbraken, in his “De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen” of 1718/1721, a follower of Sir Peter Paul Rubens who worked in small sizes: “Marienhof volgde de handeling van Rubbens in 't kleen zoo konstig na, dat hy van de Konstkenners geroemt werd. Hy ging van Utrecht te Brussel wonen. Hy trouwde vroeg, en sterf vroeg.”
Houbraken erroneously thought that Marienhof was born in Gorinchem, instead of in Utrecht.
He was clearly influenced by Nicolaus Knupfer and by Dirck Stoop, both from Utrecht, and also by Rembrandt.
About the subject of our painting
The story of Christ Blessing the Children is told in several of the Gospels. On his way to Jerusalem, where Christ will be executed, some women brought infants and young children to him for blessings. When his disciples raised objections and pushed them away Christ answered "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). 
About our painting 
In Luke 18:15-17 one reads “ "Allow the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Most assuredly, I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it".
Therefore children, although seemingly innocent and certainly unaware of the significance of the event, need to be baptised in order to achieve Salvation from original sin, with which all humans come into the world.
During the religious turmoil of the century of reformation, the motif was popularised by Lucas Cranach (1472-1553). In the struggle against the Anabaptists this became the main argument for the baptism of children and against the baptism of adults and rebaptism. Therefore this subject can be seen as a typical Protestant subject. But our painting dates from 1649, when Marienhof had left his native Utrecht for Brussels, in the Catholic, Habsburg Netherlands.
In the right background of our painting one sees children fighting. This must refer to the possibility of children committing indeed sin at a young age. 
Why should you buy this painting?
Because in this great composition, seen from a low viewpoint and culminating in a dramatic sky, Marienhof has succeeded in adopting a subtile use of clair/obscur and of colour.
Comparative paintings
Click photos for more details