A jester pointing at his alter-ego, at his Marotte, stands for contemporary society’s criticism of Church and State.
Eichler, who had studied in Rome and who worked in Augsburg loved painting this broad faces. He copied the composition from an earlier engraving by the Dutchman Hendrick Goltzius.
About Gottfried Eichler the Elder
Lippstadt 1677 – 1759 Augsburg
Portrait painter and engraver.
Pupil of Johann Heiss (1640 – 1704) in Augsburg. Our painter is documented in Augsburg between 1696 and 1703. Heiss specialised in Biblical and mythological scenes.
Pupil during five years of the portrait painter and painter of Biblical scenes Carlo Maratta (1625 – 1713) in Rome.
Eichler was the son of a cabinet maker and the father of Gottfried II (1715 – 1770), who was also a painter.
In 1705 he was painting for the Württemberg court in Schloss Ludwigsburg.
In 1707 he travelled to Vienna.
In 1713 he married and he became a master in Augsburg. That same year and the next year he travelled extensively in Italy, studying art in Venice, Padova, Livorno, Florence and Rome.
From 1742 until his death in 1759 he was the Director of the Academy of Augburg; during that same period he carried the title of Court Painter of the Elector of the Palatinate in Heidelberg.
In 1750 he painted in The Hague a pair of portraits of Johan van Nispen and his wife Petronella Susanna Cabeljau (according to the signed and dated text on the backside of both canvasses).
About Hendrick Goltzius
Dutch draughtsman, printmaker, print publisher and painter.
Mülbracht 1558 – 1617 Haarlem.
Goltzius was born near Venlo in Bracht or Millebrecht, a village then in the Duchy of Julich, now in the municipality Brüggen in North Rhine-Westphalia. His family moved to Duisburg when he was 3 years old. After studying painting on glass for some years under his father, he learned engraving from the Dutchman Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, who then lived in Cleves. In 1577 he moved with Coornhert to Haarlem.
Goltzius had a malformed right hand, from a fire when he was a baby, which turned out to be especially well-suited to holding the burin. He was internationally well known for his sophisticated technique of engraving and for the exuberance of his compositions.
In Haarlem, 15 km W of Amsterdam Goltzius, Karel van Mander and Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem introduced the complex compositions and the exaggerated twisted figures of Mannerism in Dutch art.
At the age of 21 Goltzius had married a rich, elder widow. Their unpleasant relationship forced him in 1590 to travel through Germany to Italy, where he admired Michelangelo. After his return by the end of 1591 he developed a more classicizing style. Still later his art reflected a growing interest in naturalism.
Goltzius began painting around 1600, at the age of 42; he more or less gave up engraving at that stage.
About our painting
The composition of our painting copies an engraving by Hendrick Goltzius dating from the last decade of the 16th century. But the physiognomy of our buffoon is typical of Eichler, especially his eyes that stand a little bit to wide.
Representations of buffoons, jesters or fools were popular in the Low Countries during the 16th and 17th century as they served as an antidote to power: the truth about authority could only be safely revealed by absurd mockery.
Our jester is pointing at his marotte: a mock sceptre with a small head of the fool himself. It served as his alter ego.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a grand statement of how people dealt with the power of church and state in those days.