Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)

Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)

Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (Haarlem 1785 – 1813 Haarlem)

Study of a Man pushing a Barge with a Pole

Black chalk, black chalk framing lines, on wove paper, 289 x 209 mm (11.4 x 8.2 inch)

Dated '18 11/12 13' by the artist and signed by J.E. Marcus1

- Jacob Ernst Marcus (1744–1826)
- Anonymous sale, Notarishuis, Haarlem, 28 July 1971, lot 2-049
- J.A.M. Bijvoet (1925-2008), Overveen (Lugt 2841b)2


The Haarlem-born artist Joannes Pieter Visser Bender was a promiment member of the Haarlem drawing academy, or ‘Teekencollegie’.3 He had also been taught by Warnaar Horstink and Izaak Jansz. De Wit. His early death was unfortunate, as the young artist was already one of the academy’s most promising and gifted members. Visser Bender’s drawings are characterized by their distinctive careful hatching. Dated figure studies are known from 1802, 1803, 1805 and 1806, preserved in the Teyler Museum, Haarlem, which holds the largest collection of the artist’s works.4

Our drawing is the last known dated drawing by the artist. As is customary for Visser Bender, the precise date of execution is indicated, with the month above and the day below: 12 November 1813 in this case. Our drawing must be among the last known works by Visser Bender, as he died on 9 December of that year, less than a month after this sheet was drawn. It shows the artist at the height of his abilities, a master draftsman.

Unlike the early figure studies in Teylers Museum, drawn in the academy from professional models, the present sheet seems to have been executed outside the academy from actual observation. The sight was common until the modern era, but was very rarely depicted by artists: the young man holding a pole is in fact pushing along a barge or ‘trekschuit’ with great force. The ‘trekschuit’ was the favourite means of transport between Dutch towns before the invention of the steam train. Routes with regular timetables existed between the main towns in the 17th and 18th centuries, and are considered the precursor of modern public transport. The barges were either pulled (‘trek’) by horse or manforce, or pushed by poles, as depicted in the present work. Interestingly, the interior of covered cabins on the ‘trekschuiten’, called ‘roef’, was more frequently depicted during the 18th and early 19th centuries, especially by Haarlem artists, such as that by Simon Fokke (1712-1784) with members of the Haarlem Teeken-Academy returning from a drawing excursion on 16 June 1760 (see last image).5


1. Jacob Ernst Marcus (1744–1826) was a member of the Amsterdam drawing academy and it has been suggested he came into the possession of works by Visser Bender after the latter’s early death. An etched portrait of Visser Bender by Marcus by is preserved in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-P-OB-22.748A.

2. Johannes Arnoldus Maria Bijvoet was a dealer in tulip bulbs, from which he took inspiration for his collector’s mark. He mainly collected Dutch drawings from the 19th century.

3. For the artist, see: B.C. Sliggers, 'Het portretoeuvre van J.P. Visser Bender (1785-1813), in het bijzonder zijn Haarlemse typen', Jaarboek van het Centraalbureau voor genealogie en het Iconographisch bureau 38 (1984), p. 233-277 and R.J.A. te Rijdt, 'Johannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785-1813), Delineavit et Sculpsit, 4 (december 1990), p. 31.

4. See Leslie A. Schwartz, The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum, artists born between 1740 and 1800, Haarlem/Ghent/Doornspijk 2004, pp. 457-82, nos. 649-707.

5. Preserved among the Splitgerber atlas collection, North Holland Archive, Haarlem.

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Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
Joannes Pieter Visser Bender (1785–1813)
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