Reinier Vinkeles (Amsterdam 1741 – 1816 Amsterdam)
Gentlemen Playing Cards
Pen and brown and grey ink, grey wash, 154 x 149 mm (6.1 x 5.9 inch)
Private collection, Germany, until 2018
Reinier Vinkeles was first taught by the engraver and designer Jan Punt (1711–1779), and continued his studies at the Amsterdam Drawing Academy (Stadstekenacademie) from 1762.1 In 1765 he became one of the Academy’s governors and in the same year travelled to Brabant, accompanied by Jurriaen Andriessen and Izaak Schmidt. In 1770 Vinkeles went to Paris, where he studied with the renowned engraver Jacques-Philippe Le Bas. When he returned to Amsterdam in the following year, Vinkeles embarked on a prodigious career, producing many hundreds of portraits, topographical and historical engravings, book illustrations and reproduction prints after paintings. In the same year he was asked by Catherine the Great to take up the position of the St Petersburg Drawing Academy, but declined.
Although his engraved oeuvre is enormous, only several dozen drawings by Vinkeles are known today. Of these, most are preparatory designs for prints. In addition there is a smaller group of non-preparatory sheets, representing everyday subjects and portraits of fellow artists, drawn from life. These constitute Vinkeles’s most original work, and offer a rare glimpse into 18th-century daily life – although genre scenes of this sort were highly popular during the previous century, they are unfortunately less frequently encountered in the 18th century.
This interesting sheet appears to have been drawn from life and shows a group of gentlemen at cards, seated on rather old-fashioned high-backed chairs. In the background drawn curtains and a mirror in a carved frame of Rococo design can be observed. The tricorn hats and coats of the figures would suggest a dating of around 1765-1770. This is in line with the two drawings by Vinkeles which are most closely related to our sheet: firstly a drawing in the same technique of a seated man, signed and dated February 1768, preserved in the Leiden print room (see fig.);2 and secondly another drawing of a seated man, apparently dated 1765, in the Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam (see fig.).3
Attached to the old backing sheet was a cutting from the sale catalogue of the collection of J.M. Vreeswijk of Utrecht, held at Frederik Muller in Amsterdam on 3 May 1882, which included as lot 329 a drawing described as: ‘R. Vinkeles. L’ancien foyer du Théâtre à Amsterdam (en 1799). Au centre de l’appartement on remarque un groupe de trois personnages, parmi lesquels se trouve un acteur. Sur la gauche deux officiers, en uniforme Français, consultant une carte géographique. Croquis à la plume, repris à l’aquarelle.’ (sold fl. 39). It is not clear why this cutting, which appears to describe a different drawing, accompanies the present sheet, perhaps the present work was included in the lot, although this is not mentioned in the entry.
1. For the artist, see C. Jung, ‘Reinier Vinkeles (1741-1816). Groot kunstenaar en eigenzinnige achttiende-eeuwer’, Mededelingen van de Stichting Jacob Campo Weyerman 28 (2005), pp. 118-133 and J.W. Niemeijer, ‘Reinier Vinkeles’, in: Th. Laurentius, J.W. Niemeijer and G. Ploos van Amstel, Cornelis Ploos van Amstel 1726-1798. Kunstverzamelaar en prentuitgever, Assen 1980, p. 175.
2. Black chalk, pen and grey ink, grey wash, 192 x 136 mm, signed and dated ‘R. Vinkeles delin. / February 1768.’, Prentenkabinet der Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (Welcker Collection), inv. no. AW 36.
3. Pen and grey ink, grey wash, dimensions unknown; Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, RKD image no. 65164.Request more information »