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42. Abraham van den Tempel

42. Abraham van den Tempel

Leeuwarden 1622/1623 – 1672 Amsterdam

Portrait of Cornelis van Groenendyck (1658-1704), 1668

Hunting was one of the elegant pastimes of the Golden Age. Whether they were aristocratic and had been hunting for generations, or belonged to the patriciate and were trying to imitate the nobility, many families had their offspring portrayed as young hunters or huntresses. Several of these portraits are historiated: in them, armed with a bow and accompanied by dogs, small girls sport the attributes of Diana and small boys wear invented costumes in the antique style.1 There is nothing like this in the monumental, almost life-sized portrait here: the boy is dressed in the fashion of the 1660s. He is accompanied by a hunting dog2 and by a sparrow hawk perched on his leather glove. The hood over the head of the bird of prey indicates that the young man has finished hunting – indeed his quarry is lying at his feet. Beside the two larks he has killed lies the rolled net for another form of hunting, less elitist than falconry.

This elegant young hunter must have been about ten years old when Abraham van den Tempel painted him in 1668. The facial features of the boy seem to confirm the age given to him by the original identification of the portrait as that of Cornelis van Groenendyck, born in 1658, a future of burgomaster of the town of Gouda who died in 1704. The identification probably comes from the Van den Kerckhoven family who presented this painting and several others to the Municipal Museum of The Hague; the family had been connected to the Van Groenendyck family since the eighteenth century.3

Moreover, in the catalogues of the museum between 1890 and 1900, we are informed that the portrait was then displayed in a frame bearing the coats-of-arms of the Van Groenendyck family. The vicissitudes undergone by the painting unfortunately separated the canvas from its original frame; probably before the painting was loaned by the Municipal Museum of The Hague to the Mauritshuis, whose catalogue of 1935 describes the work without any mention of the frame and also casts doubt on the identity of the young model.

The choice made by the parents of Cornelis van Groenendyck, descendants of one of the most notable families of Gouda, when they commissioned the portrait painter Van den Tempel, speaks volumes about their ambition: in 1668, at the age of forty-five, the painter was at the peak of his career. He first made his name as a history and portrait painter in the town of Leyden. He was one of the founders of the Guild of Painters in Leyden in 16484, becoming its chief then its dean in 1659. The following year, he moved to Amsterdam where his career was to progress even further. He received many prestigious commissions.5 In the same year, 1668, he also painted the portrait of Albertine Agnes of Orange-Nassau (1634-1696) with her children.6

Abraham van den Tempel, familiar with the wishes of his demanding clientele, produced a vidimus for the parents of little Cornelis, a preparatory drawing which allowed them to judge and to approve (or refuse) the artist’s proposed composition. This drawing, now in the department of prints and drawings of the library at the University of Leyden, contains no details of the facial features of the child but presents the whole scene in broad strokes.7 The painter has used black and white chalk on blue paper, thus accentuating the pictorial impact of the drawing and making it resemble the commissioned work as closely as possible.


1See for example the portraits by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656) and Caesar van Everdingen (c. 1617-1678) in Kinderen op hun mooist. Het kinderportret in de Nederlanden 1500-1700, exh. cat., Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, Antwerp, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, 2000, nos. 37 and 73.

2The dog is undoubtedly a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, a flushing dog whose race and origins belong to the Low Countries (no. 314 in the inventory of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale).

3The daughter of the model, Margaretha van Groenendyck (1693-1770), married Melchior Sebastiaan van den Kerckhoven (1692-1761). As the last descendant of a family as important in Gouda as were the Van Groenendycks, her patronym was added to that of her husband when the first child of the marriage was born: Cornelis Adriaan van den Kerckhoven van Groenendyck. See: J.J. de Jong, Met goed fatsoen. De elite in een Hollandse stad, Gouda 1700-1780, no location [De Bataafsche Leeuw], 1985, p. 165.

4Leyden had only one guild and it included a large number of members of the artistic and artisan trades. The painters of the town, following the emancipation of the profession at the end of the sixteenth century everywhere in Europe, created their own guild in order to lend nobility to their activity. See in particular, Eric Jan Sluijter, De lof der schilderkunst: Over schilderijen van Gerrit Dou (1613-1675) en een traktaat van Philip Angel uit 1642, Hilversum, 1993, pp. 15-16.

5The most complete biography is the one edited by Christiaan Vogelaar in Dutch Classicism in Seventeenth-Century Painting, exh. cat., Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Frankfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, 1999, pp. 254 and 258.

6Piet Bakker, Gezicht op Leeuwarden. Schilders in Friesland en de markt voor schilderijen in de Gouden Eeuw, doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2008, pp. 87 and 235-236. For the portrait see: https://rkd.nl/explore/images/14419.

7Inv. PK-T-AW-279; see David de Witt 2006.

8Its alternative long term loan-inventory number at Fondation Custodia is: LL-ICNS01.