Jacob Toorenvliet (Leiden 1640 – 1719 Oegstgeest)
Hercules and Hesione
Red chalk, watermark arms of Amsterdam, 203 x 317 mm (8 x 12.5 inch)
Signed ‘JToorenvliet F.’
Executed c. 1704
- Galdy Galleries Ltd., New York, 1983
- Private collection, Germany
- A Facsmile of a Sketchbook by Jacob Toorenvliet, Leyden 1635-1719, Galdy Galleries Ltd., New York 1983, no. 56, repr. (colour)
- Susanne Henriette Karau, Leben und Werk des Leidener Malers Jacob Toorenvliet (1640-1719), Berlin 2002, p. 120, no. ZB II.56, repr.
Jacob Toorenvliet first trained with his father, the Leiden glass-painter and drawing instructor Abraham Toorenvliet (1620–1692).1 He continued his studies in the studio of Gerrit Dou (1613–1675) until 1659, where his fellow pupils included Frans van Mieris the Elder and Matthijs Naiveu. Between c. 1670 and 1673 Toorenvliet was in Rome, where he joined the ‘Bentveughels’ (assuming the Bent-name Jason) and copied Italian Renaissance paintings, according to Houbraken. In 1673 he was in Venice, and from 1676 to 1679 in Vienna. In 1680 he lived in Amsterdam, but moved back to his native Leiden around 1682, where he established his studio. In 1694 he was one of the co-founders of the Leiden Drawing Academy, together with Willem van Mieris and Carel de Moor. Toorenvliet was also very active in the Leiden Guild of St Luke, where he was chosen to important offices almost every year between 1695 and 1712. Toorenvliet was one of the last surviving pupils of Gerrit Dou, and remained faithful to his former master’s fine-painting technique.
Toorenvliet specialized in small-scale so-called ‘cabinet pictures’ painted in a precise manner on copper or panel, generally of genre subjects with only one or two figures, highly appreciated by the private collectors of the age. Drawings by Toorenvliet are exceptionally rare. Some early figure studies are preserved in the Weimar and Budapest museums.2 Knowledge of the artist as a draughtsman was greatly enhanced by the appearance on the New York art market in 1983 of a sketchbook dated 1704 on the frontispiece. The album, comprising sixty-two drawings, was dismantled and the drawings sold separately, but fortunately the whole album was documented by a facsimile edition published by the dealer, Galdy Galleries Ltd.3
The present drawing was included in the 1704 album as folio 56. Rather more than a sketchbook, it included very finished and signed drawings such as the present sheet. The album may have served more as a document of the considerable abilities of the esteemed artist and professor at the Leiden drawing academy, possibly made for a particularly fervent admirer, or for the artist’s own enjoyment. Of the sixty-two drawings in the album, only nine are signed, including the present sheet.
Unlike the frequently amusing genre subjects of his paintings, Toorenvliet chose a Classical subject for the present drawing of Hercules and Hesione. When Hercules set out for Troy, he found the city in a state of crisis, as King Laomedon had cheated the gods Poseidon and Apollo by failing to pay them for building the walls. In punishment Poseidon had sent a large sea monster, who would only be appeased by devouring the King’s daughter, Princess Hesione. Hercules bravely killed the beast by allowing himself to be swallowed by the monster, whom he then killed from the inside. King Laomedon however failed to reward Hercules for his achievement, upon which Hercules raised an army and captured the city.
Drawings from the album very rarely occur on the market. An exception is a drawing representing a Female Fish Seller, sold at Christie’s in 2002 (see last fig.).4
1. For the artist, see Eric Jan Sluijter a.o, Leidse Fijnschilders: van Gerrit Dou tot Frans van Mieris de Jonge 1630–1760, Leiden 1988, pp. 239-49 and Susanne H. Karau, Leben und Werk des Leidener Malers Jacob Toorenvliet (1640-1719), dissertation, Berlin 2002.
2. Stiftung Weimarer Klassik und Kunstsammlungen, Weimar, inv. nos KK 5519 and KK5520, see Rembrandt und seine Zeitgenossen, exh. cat. Weimar (Schlossmuseum) 1981, p. 113, nos 373 and 374; Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest, inv. no. 1478, see T. Gerszi, 17th-century Dutch and Flemish drawings in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts: a complete catalogue, Budapest 2005, no. 284, repr.
3. A Facsimile of a Sketchbook by Jacob Toorenvliet, Leyden 1635-1719, Galdy Galleries Ltd., New York 1983.
4. Christie’s, Paris, 21 March 2002, lot 118, repr. (colour).Request more information »