17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings

Poel, Egbert Lievensz. van der
6.800 €

Soldiers plundering a village at night, setting the church ablaze
Oil on panel : 53,0 X 42,4 cm
Frame : 64,8 X 74,6 cm
I am currently documenting this painting

In short
Egbert van der Poel was the most important 17th century Dutch painter of nocturnal fire scenes, so-called “Brandjes”. He must have developped this particular speciality in the latter part of his career. In Rotterdam he influenced several painters who also turned to this subject.
The former Historic Museum of Rotterdam, now simply called Museum Rotterdam, holds the same composition as ours by one of these followers, Philip van Leeuwen: it is signed and dated 1662. On the backside of that panel an inscription states that that painting is a copy by van der Leeuwen after an original by Egbert van der Poel. Until now this original, which actually must be our painting, had not been found.
About Egbert Lievensz. van der Poel
Dutch painter
Delft 1621 - 1664 Rotterdam
Painter of so-called “Brandjes” (scenes of nocturnal fire) and of “Maneschijntjes” (scenes of moonshine). 
Occasionally he also painted genre scenes set in barn interiors and beach scenes.
Pupil of the versatile painter Cornelis Saftleven (1607 – 1681) in Rotterdam. Saftleven had been active in Antwerp between 1632 and 1634, and then in Utrecht, before returning to Rotterdam in 1637, where he had grown up with his parents and two brothers.
Son of the silversmith Lieven Ariensz. van der Poel from Delft.
Elder brother of the lesser known painter Adriaen Lievensz. van der Poel (Delft 1626 – in or after 1671 Leiden).
Our painter remained in Rotterdam after his training until circa 1650, when he moved back to his nearby native town of Delft. In 1650 he joined the local Painter’s Guild, in 1651 he married in Maassluis Aeltgen Willems van Linschooten; the couple had four children.
On Monday morning, the 12th of October 1654, an important part of the city of Delft was destroyed, due to the accidental explosion of one of its gunpowder magazines. Many hundreds of inhabitants are said to have been killed by this “Delft Thunderclap” (“Delftsche Donderslag”), among them the famous painter Carel Fabritius and most probably one of Egbert’s own daughters (as she was buried two days after the disaster). Egbert soon moved back to Rotterdam, either in that same year of 1654, or at the start of the next year. His three daughters had been born in Delft, his son in Rotterdam. Egbert remained here until his death in 1664.
About “Brandjes”
Fire has always been a fascinating subject for painters. 
Biblical and mythological themes, such as the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the Fall of Troy, formed excellent pretexts for painting fire.
During the 17th century artists started painting common, daily subjects.
In 1623 Esaias van de Velde painted a battle scene at night round a burning building, in 1637 Rotterdam based Willem Viruly II painted a nocturnal fire scene with plundering soldiers.
Egbert van der Poel painted some twenty views of the Delft powder house explosion: either of the tragic event itself or of this devastated area of the town afterwards. It is generally thought that following the success of these scenes he started painting blazing fires at night in small towns and villages, with numerous figures and details.
Egbert van der Poel is considered the best specialist in this domain of nocturnal fire scenes. He influenced his brother Adriaen, Adam Colonia (1634 – 1685) and Philip van Leeuwen (who died in 1723). “Brandjes” were a popular subject in Rotterdam.
About our painting, an important discovery
Our night scene represents soldiers who are plundering a small village.
They are brightly lit by the orange glow of the church that they have set on fire. In the foreground some of them have opened strongboxes, filled with jewellery. Behind them some of the villagers are preparing to leave.
A rare follower of our Egbert van der Poel, Philip van Leeuwen (before 1647 – 1723), painted exactly the same composition in 1662. He also signed this slightly larger panel painting (54 X 46,5 cm). Today it sits in the former Historic Museum of Rotterdam, now simply called Museum Rotterdam. According to Margriet Verhoef (in “Rotterdamse Meester uit de Gouden Eeuw”, under the redaction of Nora Schadee, 1994, Cat. Nr. 26, P. 190, 191 and 213) an inscription on the  backside of that panel states that that painting is a copy by van der Leeuwen after an original by Egbert van der Poel. Until now this original, which must be our painting, had, by 1994, not yet been found.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this nicely painted fire scene is an interesting discovery: it is the long lost original of a period copy by Philip van Leeuwen, dating from 1662, from the Museum Rotterdam.