Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gerrit Van Honthorst

Gerrit Van Honthorst. Margareta Maria de Roodere, 1652.

In our last post I shared a delightful painting by Joachim von Sandrart, showing a butcher and his meat, cut for sandwiches, masterfully thin. And in that post I made mention of von Sandart's apprenticeship to the painter Gerrit van Honthorst. It is my great pleasure to share with you one of that master's best works. Seated here with her mother is another student of von Sandrart, the young Margareta Maria de Roodere.

The painting by van Honthorst is quite a testament to the skill Margareta Here Hendrix has been rendered quite faithfully, his face instantly recognizable. Yet the picture is embellished with smoke, and the young musician is given the pale and ghostly skin of the departed. Van Honthorst demonstrates Margareta's talents best in the glittering eye of the young poet, staring off through the haze and full of wonder.

We find a similar gaze in another painting made in about the same time: Jan Davidszoon de Heem's portrait of a Student in His Study. The portrait is a favorite of both Professor Peeters and myself, and captures the gaze of yet another glassy-eyed dreamer.

Van Honthorst pictured his student just as she was, talented, yet not quite matured as a woman. She is shown with the affects of youth, a jar of hazelnut spread and her glass pipe. The elder painter's depiction is masterful. Van Honthorst uses his palette to recreate another held by his student. Notice, too, a handful of brushes and her maul, the delicate swirls of glass in her pipe.

A bit of Margareta's personal history has come to use through the ages. In addition to painting beautifully under the tutelage of van Honthorst she also practiced calligraphy, drew, etched glass with diamonds, stitched her own hacky sacks and embroidered cloth. It seems the young Margareta took to each craft with great skill, answering the ages-old question, "Are You Experienced?"

1 comment:

Jan Peeters said...

Such a wonderful painting! I can scarcely imagine the crackling artistic energy in that room: de Roodere and van Honthorst, Sandrart (once student now a teacher), and the presiding spirit of Hendrix guiding the hands of all! The more resigned part of this old professor is pessimistic about such energy ever being captured in one room again.