35. Jan Goeree

Middelburg 1670 – 1731 Amsterdam

Geen dag sonder trek (“No day without a line”)

Drawing was an essential component in the education of young seventeenth-century artists. From early on they learned to make copies of prints by old masters, such as Albrecht Dürer (1474-1527), Raphael (1583-1424) and Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533). Drawing after three-dimensional models came next. Consequently, they were encouraged to draw their own likeness in the mirror and practise facial expressions. After their training, artists – some more than others – continued to draw in addition to painting, as is illustrated by the many drawings and preliminary studies for paintings that survive today. In fact, drawing on a daily basis was considered a necessity. “Nulla dies sine linea” (No day without a line), derived from Pliny’s life of the classical painter Apelles, was often used as a motto in the seventeenth century.1

The present drawing is a free interpretation of this same message. It depicts a young painter at an easel. In his right hand he has a piece of chalk, a medium that was frequently used by seventeenth-century artists to make an underdrawing on canvas or panel in preparation for the painting. A rather fierce-looking man with a beard (Apelles?) is holding his left hand, presumably guiding the unexperienced artist on his path to becoming a master himself. In the foreground a putto is grinding pigments with a muller on a stone slab, while an open door in the background provides a view of a crowded street. On a banner the motto “Geen dag sonder trek” (No day without a line) can be read.

As suggested by Robert-Jan te Rijdt, the drawing is by the hand of the Dutch draughtsman, engraver, book illustrator and poet Jan Goeree.2 It is a previously unrecognised illustration made for the now dismembered “stamboek” or album amicorum of Joanna Blok, née Koerten (1650-1715), a famous cutting artist from Amsterdam. Numerous artists, writers and well-to-do visitors who came to see her collection contributed to this book, including the poultry painter Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636-1695), the poet David van Hoogstraten (1658-1724) and Goeree’s master: Gerard de Lairesse (1641-1711).3 Goeree designed the title page and provided at least ten other illustrations, including a double-sided drawing that recently appeared on the art market and was also acquired by the Fondation Custiodia.4 This sheet bears the signature of Thomas Howard, 7th Baron of Effingham (1682-1775) and the date “March 29th 1701”. Apparently, the young baron, who inherited his late father’s title in 1696,5 visited Amsterdam and Joanna’s collection in the early spring of 1701. Goeree, who was not over-awed by the visitor’s status, decorated the same sheet with a still appropriate illustration of the motto “D’Eenigste adeldom is deugt” (The only nobility is virtue) a few years later, in 1705.

Geen dag sonder trek was probably executed around the same time. Particularly characteristic in these drawings is the circular border, decorated with flexible twigs or palm leaves tied together at the bottom with a ribbon.6 Presumably, it accompanied a now lost contribution by a visitor, probably an artist. However, the motto also refers to Joanna herself. According to the German scholar and bibliophile Zacharius Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1743), who visited her collection in 1711, every silhouette art work she made was “very artistically and wonderfully drawn at first”.7 MR

1Ger Luijten, Peter Schatborn, Arthur K. Wheelock, Du Dessin au tableau au siècle de Rembrandt, exh. cat., Washington (National Gallery of Art) and Paris (Fondation Custodia) 2016, p. 26. The motto was cited in Justus Reifenberg’s Emblemata Politica (1632), Philips Angel’s Lof der Schilder-Konst (1642) and Crispijn van de Passe’s Van ‘t Light der Teken en Schilderkunst (1643).

2Oral communication Robert-Jan te Rijdt, 2017.

3See on this subject Michiel Plomp, ‘De portretten uit het stamboek voor Joanna Koerten (1650-1715)’, Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 8 (1989), pp. 323-343; and Robert-Jan te Rijdt, ‘Jan Goeree, het stamboek van Joanna Koerten en de datering ervan’, Delineavit et Sculpsit 17 (1997), pp. 48-56.

4Paris, Fondation Custodia, Gift of Onno van Seggelen, Rotterdam, inv. no. 2018-T.6 (pen and grey ink, with brown and grey wash and opaque white, over a sketch in red chalk; 161 × 157 mm. Signed and dated, lower right; in brown ink: “J. Goeree fec: 1705”. Inscribed, upper left, in brown ink: “March / 29th / 1701”; upper right, in brown ink: “Effingham”).

5James William Edmund Doyle, The Official Baronage of England. Showing the Succession, Dignities, and Offices of Every Peer from 1066 to 1885, 3 vols., London 1822-1892, vol. 1, p. 661.

6A signed sheet, dated 1708, with three similar circular drawings, decorated in the same manner, was in the collection of the heirs of Victor de Stuers (1843-1919), Vorden (pen and brown ink, with brown wash; 180 × 187 mm); see Dirk Hannema, Oude tekeningen uit de verzameling Victor de Stuers, exh. cat., Almelo (Kunstkring de Waag) and Rotterdam (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen) 1961, p. 20, cat. no. 69.

7Zacharius Conrad von Uffenbach, Merkwürdige Reisen, vols. 3, Ulm and Memmingen 1753-1754, vol. 3, p. 555 (“erstlich sehr künstlich und gleichend zeichnet”).

8Sara Outgers was the niece of Adriaan Blok’s mother and inherited the collection after Maria Blok’s death in 1737. Her husband and art dealer Pieter Testas tried to sell the collection en bloc and published a catalogue in 1744. Drawings by Goeree are mentioned under nos. 30-34, 45, 53, 59 and 65-67. A copy of this catalogue is in the Rijksmuseum library; see Joke Verhaven and Jan Peter Verhave, ‘Joanna Koerten en haar schaar van bewonderaars’, Doopsgezinde bijdragen 42 (2016), p. 176.

9Oudaen probably acquired a fair share of drawings and autographs from Joanna’s collection at her sale in 1762 or 1765; see Plomp 1989, op. cit. (note 3), p. 328 and 343, note 20.