This new subject, grotto interiors with biblical, mythological and Vanitas subjects was invented by Cornelis van Poelenburch at his return in his native Utrecht in 1627 after a ten-year stay in Italy. Two of his fellow townsmen specialised in this new theme: Charles de Hooch and Abraham van Cuylenborch.
Rombout van Troyen was the Amsterdam specialist of highly atmospheric, narrative, almost operatic, Italianate cavern interiors. Although of simple origin van Troyen chose for a beautiful surname, van Troyen, meaning “from Troy”.
About Rombout van Troyen
Amsterdam 1605 – in or after 1657 Amsterdam
(according to Piet Bakker and Anne Lenders, 2016, P. 11 – 38, Rombout van Troyen must have left Amsterdam for Leeuwarden circa 1655)
Painter of biblical and mythological subjects set in caverns. At the start of his career, until the early 1630s, he had painted Italianate landscapes and biblical subjects.
Pupil since the very young age of ten of the history painter Jan Pynas during seven years (between 1615/16 and 1622/23). Our Rombout was also influenced by Bartholomeus Breenbergh and through his Master by Jan’s brother, Jacob Pynas, and by Adam Elsheimer.
Arnold Houbraken in his biography of painters (“De Groote Schouburgh”, published in 1718) confirms that van Troyen loved Amsterdam and that he never travelled to Italy. He was born in a simple family: his father was a wheel turner, his grandfather a tailor. But for an unknown reason our painter chose for a beautiful new surname, van Troyen, meaning “from Troy”.
Van Troyen married twice: in 1632 (the couple had one daughter, his wife died already in September 1634) and in 1635 (seven children of which only one daughter reached an adult age).
About our painting
Van Troyen loved painting strangely lit grotto interiors with tiny figures moving around bizarre columns and curious, huge statues.
Cornelis van Poelenburch (15954/95 -1667) must be seen as the inventor of this new setting for biblical, mythological and Vanitas subjects: cavern interiors. He had returned in 1627 to Utrecht from a ten-year long journey to Rome (and Florence). Two of his fellow townsmen specialised in this new theme: Charles de Hooch (circa 1600/1606 – 1638) and Abraham van Cuylenborch (1620 – 1658). Dirk Stoop (circa 1618 – 1686) also regularly painted this subject.
No surprise that in Amsterdam, the metropolis of Holland just 50 km NW of Utrecht, this fashionable new subject also rapidly broke through with a single specialist: our painter. Van Troyen was particularly successful during the 1640s, judging by the 44 paintings on a total of 64, dating from that decade.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because you will keep discovering new figures and idols in this highly evocative, bewildering scene.