Our portrait resembles strongly a similar portrait of three children that does still carry part of Voorhout’s signature and that is therefore recorded as by our painter at the RKD in The Hague. It has the same dimensions as our canvas.
Voorhout was active all his life in Amsterdam, except for a stay of three years in Hamburg.
About Johannes Voorhout I
Uithoorn (near Amsterdam) 1647 – 1717 Amsterdam
Painter of history paintings, portraits and genre scenes.
Son and brother of watchmakers.
According to the Dutch painters’ biographer, Arnold Houbraken in his “De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen”, published between 1718 and 1721, Voorhout had been a pupil of Constantijn Verhout in Gouda during 6 years between 1658 and 1664 and, after he moved to Amsterdam, of Jan van Noordt (1623/24 – 1676/86) during the following 5 years until 1669. Johannes married the next year with Margaretha Vos, the couple had two children: circa 1676 Johannes II (who studied painting under his father and who was also a musician) and over ten years later a daughter (Cornelia).
Soon Voorhout and his wife moved to Germany, just before the imminent invasion of the Dutch Republic by King Louis XIV of France. In 1672, Holland was being simultaneously attacked by England and France, with the help of the bishop of Münster and of the archbishop of Cologne. This period is known in Holland as the “Disaster year” (“Rampjaar”). The troops of King Louis XIV advanced rapidly from Germany towards the W., until they were stopped by the Dutch Water Line, inundated by the new Stadtholder, William III. By 1674 England, Cologne and Munster signed a peace treaty with Holland, while the war with France expanded outside of Holland.
Voorhout had first moved to Friedrichstadt (close to the Danish border) and a few months later to Hamburg, where he stayed for three years. In 1675 he returned to Amsterdam, where he must have remained until his death in 1717.
About Voorhout’s pupil Ernst Stuven
I would also like to tell you here the shocking story of Voorhout’s pupil Enst Stuven. In Hamburg, where he was successful as a portrait painter, our painter had met Ernst Stuven (circa 1657 – 1712). Stuven, aged 18, followed Voorhout to Amsterdam where he studied portrait painting under him. Later he turned to still life painting, which he studied under Willem van Aelst and under Abraham Mignon. Thanks to the already mentioned Arnold Houbraken we know about the unfortunate life of the highly aggressive Stuven (P. 373 -378). Shortly before 1700 he had so strongly mistreated his pupil Willem Grasdorp that Amsterdam’s bailiff’s men came to arrest him. Stuven, heavily armed with a sword and loaded guns, appeared screaming at the window with his face and hands painted in red, and told his imprisoned pupil Grasdorp to prepare for death. Stuven beat him up, he even pierced his lip with a pencil. Finally after a few days of siege the policemen were able to break away the flooring of the room above Stuven and they caught him with a shipper’s hook attached to a rope, which went through his cheek. Stuven was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. My apologies for this juicy story that stands very far from our peaceful scene.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a tender scene of innocent childhood.