Jacob van Ulft was a versatile artist: painter, draughtman, stained glass painter, architect. He specialised in Italianate views, though it is generally accepted he never visited that country, neither Rome.
About Jacob van der Ulft
Dutch painter and draughtsman
Gorinchem 1621 – 1689 Noordwijk
Painter of Italianate landscapes, architectural views, townscapes and beach views.
It is not known whom van der Ulft studied painting with. But he was clearly influenced by the paintings of Johannes Lingelbach (1622 – 1674), and by the drawings of Jan de Bisschop (1628 – 1671).
Another unsolved mystery is the question if van der Ulft ever visited Rome. According to Arnold Houbraken, the biographer of Dutch contemporary painters in his ‘De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen’ from 1719 (Vol. 2), he never sat a foot in Italy. It is of course possible that our artist based his Italian views on prints and drawings. If ever he had travelled to Italy then that must have been circa 1650 (according to Hoogewerff in 1952).
Van der Ulft held public office in his birthplace, Gorinchem, between 1660 and 1679. Just as his father he even became burgomaster. But in 1679 he left, actually fled, his hometown for The Hague, as he was accused of corruption. That same year he already came back and remained in Gorichem until 1683, when he moved to Noordwijk on the North Sea coast. He died there six years later in 1689.
Van der Ulft was a versatile artist:
- in 1658 the city of Gorinchem had commissioned him sketches for coats of arms;
- in 1659 he is called painter and architect in a notary act;
- Houbraken says that he was an excellent glass painter, actually the most important Dutch glass painter of the 17th century; he says that a lot of churches in and around Gorinchem and in the Dutch Eastern province of Gelderland are decorated with stained glass paintings made by van der Ulft.
About our painting
Our painter has convincingly combined here, just like in a puzzle, very diverse pieces of existing and imaginative architectural elements and buildings. His figure staffage enhances the realistic sense of the composition: rich and poor people, stevedores and Turkish merchants populate this “Italian” harbour scene.
Not only the composition and the style, but also the elongated form, are typical of van der Ulft.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because is sums up the exotic beauty of Italy as it would have been perceived by 17th century Dutch travellers.