Until now only three paintings were known by this enigmatic Frisian painter, active circa 1630: three portraits of noblewomen.
About L.J. Woutersin
Until now only two signed and dated large full-length portraits of ladies were known by Woutersin, plus a third unsigned and undated woman’s portrait. The dates read 1630 and 1628, or possibly 1622.
Woutersin was active in Friesland, a province located in the NW of Holland, most probably in its capital Leeuwarden.
There are no biographic data known about Woutersin. It is not even known what his/her initials stand for.
About Wybrand de Geest I and Harmen Willems Wieringa.
Here you have some more information about the two major 17th century Frisian portrait painters: de Geest also portrayed Sophia van Vervou, two years after Woutersin, and an unsigned pair of portraits by Harmen Willems Wieringa dates also from the same period.
About Wybrand de Geest I
Born in Leeuwarden in 1592, died between 1661 and 1665 probably in Leeuwarden.
Pupil of Abraham Bloemaert in Utrecht.
Among his pupils ranks Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (1608-1651).
Wybrand de Geest was a Catholic. His mother had been a nun until 1580.
De Geest is known to have worked in very diverse locations. He is documented in Leeuwarden in 1611, in Utrecht in 1613-1614, in Paris from 1614 until 1616, in Aix-en-Provence in 1616, then in Rome between December 1616 and 1618.
In Rome he joined the Bentveughels, a society of Flemish and Dutch artists. Each member had a club or Bent name: de Geest was called ‘the Frisian Eagle’.
Benedict Nicolson thinks he might have travelled from Rome to Naples in 1620.
He returned to his hometown Leeuwarden in 1621 where he probably remained until his death. He is last documented here in 1659.
In 1622 de Geest painter married in Leeuwarden Hendrickje Uylenburgh (1600 – circa 1682). She was a grand niece of Saskia van Uylenburgh, who later (in 1634) married Rembrandt.
De Geest was court painter of three Frisian stadtholders: of Ernst Casimir and of his two sons, Hendrik Casimir I (1612-1640) and Willem Frederik (1613-1664). He regularly made portraits of all three.
He had a friendly relationship with stadtholder Willem Frederik.
Leeuwarden was the court town of the Frisian stadtholders and the main economic centre of this Northern province. It can be compared with other contemporary middle-sized Dutch towns, such as Hoorn or Alkmaar.
Stadtholder Hendrik Casimir I remained unmarried and had no children.
Ernst Casimir had nine children, Willem Frederik three. While their families remained there the stadtholders whom Wybrand de Geest worked for were very often absent from Leeuwarden. Until the end of the Eighty Years War (the Peace of Munster in Westphalia in 1648) and the final recognition of the Dutch Republic by Spain they were fighting the Spaniards during summer, while they would spent the major part of winter in The Hague, where court and social life were much more interesting. It was only in January that the Frisian stadtholders returned to Leeuwarden. And a few months later their war obligations started all over again.
Although a pupil of Abraham Bloemaert de Geest was more strongly influenced by his fellow-townsman the portrait painter Paulus Moreelse (1571-1638). Count Ernst Casimir had regularly resided in Utrecht before 1620 and possessed several important portraits by Moreelse. After his move to Leeuwarden in 1620 it is but normal that he chose our local Frisian painter, whose style reminded him of Moreelse, as his court painter. Under both his sons de Geest remained court painter.
Two of Wybrand’s sons were painters: François of still lifes, Julius of portraits, history subjects and still lifes.
Wybrand’s grandson, Wybrandus (1667-1716), was both painter and poet.
About Harmen Willems Wieringa
Wier, 1597/99 – 1644/1650, ?
Wieringa lived and worked in the northwestern part of the Dutch Republic, in Friesland. There he was strongly influenced by its most important portrait painter, Wybrand de Geest (Leeuwarden 1592 – 1661/65 Leeuwarden?), who was active as court painter of three Frisian Stadtholders in their capital Leeuwarden between 1621 and his death.
Both Wieringa and de Geest were Catholics. This is rather surprising in the mainly Protestant Dutch Republic, where Catholics could for example not have any public function. That is why apparently many Catholics chose for liberal professions, such as lawyer, notary, gold or silver smith and painter.
Wieringa’s stay in Leeuwarden is documented between 1639 and 1644, when he is recorded as an advisor to the local Frisian government, recommending designs for buildings and also for ceremonial carriages.
He was married with Margaretha van Tongeren. The couple had four children. One of them, Nicolaas (Leeuwarden 1624/26 – 1681 Leeuwarden), was a pupil of his father; he painted portraits and also religious and mythological subjects. The two other sons studied law at the university of Franeker: Gasparus became a layer, Philippus notary (he was also active as surveyor and is said to have also painted).
Both Wieringa and his son Nicolaas were for many years appointed by the province of Friesland for non artistic paint jobs, they actually had to paint buildings. Their function was called ‘landscape painter’ (‘landschapsschilder’ or ‘schilder van het landschap’).
I should also mention here that to differentiate him from his son, Nicolaas Wieringa, the father is sometimes simply called ‘Harmen Willems’, the name he actually signed some of his paintings with. ‘Willems’ is thus his last name and not to be confused with the common second first name ‘Willemsz.’ that would stand for ‘Willemszoon’, ‘son of Willems’.
“Wieringa” refers to Harmen Willems’ birthplace, a small village called Wier, 15 km NW from Leeuwarden. Today Wier is part of a larger borough, Menaldumadeel (Menameradiel in Frisian) that unites 14 villages.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a beautiful, typical early Frisian portrait of an enigmatic, stylised, richly dressed figure.