Gerson Digital : Poland


3.6 Dutch Paintings in Polish Collections

On other occasions we may stumble into a picture by Jan Wijnants [1] or a praying hermit by Godfried Schalcken.1 Of course these few instances do not prove the proposition that ‘in the 17th century the Burgher homes of Danzig were filled with outstanding Dutch pictures which became ammassed during the 18th century with several art lovers.’2 On the other hand we know that Dutch art dealers were selling works at the Dominican market. That the Danzig art market took on some significance in the course of the 17th century, is also proved by the fact the Great Elector sent Henri de Fromentiou (c. 1633/1634-in or after 1693) there to buy paintings in 1684.3

Jan Wijnants
Landscape with figures on a road alongside a stream, 1679 (dated)
canvas, oil paint 110 x 94 cm
lower right : J. Wijnants f. A° 1679
Sint-Petersburg (Russia), Hermitage, inv./ 1114 (cat. 1901)

As we have seen,Ladislaus IV [2] (1595-1648) andJohn II Casimir [3] (1609-1668) already had Dutch artists in their service. In 1625 a ‘Prince of Poland’ (Prins van Polen), who had visited Antwerp five years before, paid 1,600 guilders to the executor of the estate of Jan Brueghel for paintings that the artist had supplied.4 That is one of the earliest mentions of an acquisition of paintings initiated by a Polish ruler in The Netherlands [4].

Anoniem Antwerpen (stad) 1626 gedateerd
The 'Kunstkammer'of prince Ladislas Zygmunt Vasa, dated 1626
panel (oak), oil paint 72.5 x 104 cm
lower center : Here. (?) fecit/Warsau [...] (?) 1626
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/2123

Frans Luyckx
Portrait of Wladislaus IV, King of Poland (1595-1648), c. 1639
canvas, oil paint 203.5 x 140.5 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ GG 7150

Daniel Schultz
Portrait of John II Casimir (1609-1672) in Polish costume, c. 1649
canvas, oil paint 210 x 154 cm
Gripsholms Slott (Mariefred), National Portrait Gallery at Gripsholm Castle, inv./ NMGrh 1273

Jan III Sobieski (1629-1696) [5] certainly commissioned substantial purchases of paintings in the Netherlands. In 1679 he ordered ‘a very large ceiling painting’ (un plafonds fort grand) by an unfamiliar painter named Louis Renaldi, which cost 600 guilders.5 With the help of Johannes Vorsterman, François de Béthune, a French emissary to the Polish court, purchased a large number of art works in Nijmegen, which presumably ended up in Poland. A good impression of Jan Sobieski as collector is provided by the inventory compiled after his death in 1696.6 It is true that only the names of seven painters are mentioned in connection with the approximately three hundred paintings, but the descriptions of the pictures make it possible not only to recognize a group of works as Dutch, but also to identify the artistic circle to which they belong.7

Romeyn de Hooghe
Allegorical portrait of John III Sobieski (1629-1696), with a battlefield in the background, dated 1674
paper, etching 490 x 716 mm
upper right : INVICTO PRINCIPI:/IOANNI III/DG: POLONIAE, REGI, MAGNO DUCI LITHUANIAE, PRUS/[P]RUS, MASS. TURCARUM SUBACTORI:/Rex, Dux, Miles, ovat, praest, instat, vertite Turcae/Agmina, pro clypeo, stat Deus ecce. suo
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-2003-238

In his castle in Wilanów the King had a Dutch cabinet containing paintings by Rembrandt [6-7], Pieter van Laer (both identified by name), important Dutch genre pictures as well as works with less refined depictions. Landscapes were relatively poorly represented but, by contrast, the animal pictures and still lifes very well. A flower piece received the highest appraisal at 700 thalers. Simon already pointed out that this was probably a small work by Maria van Oosterwijck, who, according to Houbraken, painted three pictures which together fetched 2,400 guilders.8

Rembrandt or circle of Rembrandt
Girl in a picture frame, dated 1641
panel (poplar), oil paint 105.5 x 76.3 cm
lower left : Rembrandt f/1641
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3906

Louis Silvestre (II)
Portrait of August II (1670-1733), king of Poland
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm

Scholar at his desk, dated 1641
panel (poplar), oil paint 105.7 x 76.4 cm
lower center : Rembrandt f. 1641
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3905

We should otherwise exercise caution when we read in Houbraken, Weyerman and Van Gool about the acquisitions of the ‘Kings of Poland’, as they usually concern purchases by August the Strong (1670-1733) [8] or his successor which were intended for the Dresden collections. On the contrary, we learn from the manuscript Dresden inventory of 1712 that the Saxon Kings of Poland had all sorts of good things brought in from Polish castles.9

At any rate, not everything was moved to Dresden, for the extensive and diversified art collection of Stanislaus II August Poniatowski (1732-1798) [9] contained some works that he must have inherited from his ancestors. An Allegory of the Injustice of the Great Elector by Arie de Vois [10] must have been painted on commission, for how else would a Dutch painter have arrived at such an insult to a friendly head of state?10 A Portrait of Gerrit Jonas Witsen, attributed to Michiel van Mierevelt, must also have been old property.11 We know, furthermore, that Adriaan van Aalst and Jan IJver (1747-1814) served as agents for Stanilaus in the Northern Netherlands, acquiring works for him there. In London it was Noel Desenfans [11] (1744-1807), charged with an unusual commission to concentrate on the landscapes of Claude.12

Ary de Vois
Injustice enthroned
panel, oil paint 47 x 42 cm
lower right : ADVois Ft (ADV dooreen)
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ 129017 / M.Ob.849 MNW

Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun
Portrait of Stanislas II August Poniatowski (1732-1798), last King of Poland, c. 1795-1796
canvas, oil paint 98 x 78 cm
Versailles, Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon, inv./ MV5878

James Northcote
Portrait of Noel Joseph Desenfans (1744-1807), c. 1796
canvas, oil paint 73.3 x 60.9 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./ DPG28

The Dutch paintings still constitute a substantial part of the collection of more than two thousand pictures that Marcello Bacciarelli (1731-1818) [12] catalogued at the death of the king.13 The ruler had assembled the cabinet pieces in his Łazienki Palace. It was a collection well worth being displayed. Both the handsome portraits by Rembrandt which currently grace the Lanckoroński collection in Vienna,14 hung there and were copied by Bacciarelli and others. In addition there was a late portrait from the Potocki collection (Louvre) [13]15 and two early portraits [14-15],16 as well as six school works [16-17] and (at least in the eyes of today’s critics!) five copies.17

Marcello Bacciarelli
Self-portrait od Marcello Bacciarelli (1731-1818), dated 1793
canvas, oil paint 68.5 x 57 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ MP 313

follower of Rembrandt
Bust of an old man, c. 1655-1768
canvas, oil paint 71 x 55 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ R.F. 2379

follower of Rembrandt
Bust of a young man, second quarter 17th century
panel, oil paint 21 x 21 cm
Private collection

attributed to Rembrandt and studio of Rembrandt or studio of Rembrandt
Portrait of a man, dated 1634
panel (oak), oil paint 71.2 x 53 cm
center right : Rembrandt. f. / 1634
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M.Ob.2189 MNW

Jan Victors
Jacob blessing the Sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48:13-20), first half of the 1650s
canvas, oil paint 136 x 190 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie

Jan Victors
Joseph's blood-stained coat is brought and shown to Jacob (Genesis 37:32-33), dated 1649
canvas, oil paint 97 x 112.7 cm
lower right : Jan. Victors: / 1649
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, inv./ LK 927

Rembrandts students Ferdinand Bol (whose pictures are described in the inventory as works by Dietrichs) [18], Gerbrand van den Eeckhout [19],18 Aert de Gelder [20], Jan Lievens and Salomon Koninck were also present in full force, with as many as seven paintings by Gerard Dou [21-23].19

Jan Victors
Esau selling his birthright to Jacob(Genesis 25:29-34), dated 1653
canvas, oil paint 109 x 137 cm
lower right : 1653
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, inv./ LK928

Arent de Gelder
Self portrait of Arent de Gelder (1645 1727) with Rembrandt's 'Hundred guilder print' in his hand, c. 1710
canvas, oil paint 79.5 x 64.5 cm
center right : Gelder:ƒ.
Sint-Petersburg (Russia), Hermitage, inv./ 790

Ferdinand Bol
Portrait of Johanna de Geer-Trip (1627-1691) with her daughter Caecilia, dated 1661
canvas, oil paint 126 x 97 cm
lower left : FBol./1661
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M. Ob. 556

Gerard Dou
Portrait of a man with a pleaded collar and a goatee
panel, oil paint 18 x 14.5 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie

Gerard Dou
Portrait of a woman wearing a bonnet and a pleaded collar, possibly Dou's mother Maria Jansdr. van Wassenaer
panel, oil paint 18 x 14 cm
left : GDOV (G en D aaneen)
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie

follower of Gerard Dou
An old woman praying, after c. 1630
panel, oil paint 29.6 x 22.9 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M. Ob. 553

Pictures by Anthonie Palamedesz. [24], Adriaen van Ostade [25], Gerard ter Borch [26], Jan Steen [27] and Gabriël Metsu [28-29] represented the genre painters, while works by Nicolaes Berchem [30-31],20 Hackaert [32]21 and Frederik de Moucheron [33] took care of Italianate landscape. The originals by Philips Wouwermans must have gone to Dresden, for they had only copies in Warsaw [34-35].22 Portraits and other, less important paintings rounded off the collection.

Anthonie Palamedesz.
A guardroom with a soldier sounding a trumpet, dated 1654
panel, oil paint 36.4 x 50 cm
lower left : A. Palamedes. 1654
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ 131115

Adriaen van Ostade
Two men smoking and drinking, c. 1660
panel (oak), oil paint 19.8 x 16.9 cm
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3917

Gerard ter Borch (II)
Officer writing a letter, with a messenger, c. 1655-1665
panel, oil paint 41 x 28.5 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M.Ob.493

Jan Steen
The choice between wealth and youth (unequal love), 1661-1663
panel (oak), oil paint 63.5 x 51.5 cm
lower left : JSteen
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M. Ob. 497

Gabriel Metsu
Woman washing textiles in a tub, c. 1655-1657
panel, oil paint 23.7 x 21 cm
upper right : G. metSú
Warsaw, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, inv./ Ł Kr. 811/PZM 280/94

after Gabriel Metsu
Old man holding a pipe and a jug, after 1662
panel, oil paint 23.8 x 21 cm
center right : Metsù/16[6]2
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M. Ob. 492

Jan Frans Soolmaker
Southern mountainous landscape with shepherds
canvas, oil paint 60.7 x 79.2 cm
lower left : JF. S[...]KER (JF in ligature)
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3907

Anoniem Noordelijke Nederlanden (historische regio) mogelijk 18de eeuws, voor 1795 most likely after Nicolaes Berchem
Landscape with mule, before 1795
panel, oil paint 21 x 26 cm
lower left : 1672
Poznań, Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu, inv./ MNP FR 445

Jacob Philipp Hackert
Landscape with a view of the Jesuit college at Massa Lubrense, dated 1791
canvas, oil paint 64 x 88.5 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ 128728

possibly Jan Hackaert
Italianate landscape with travellers
canvas, oil paint 79.4 x 67.2 cm
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3925

Philips Wouwerman
Landscape with grey horse and dismounted rider, c. 1647/1648
panel (oak), oil paint 35.9 x 31.9 cm
lower right : PHILS W
Warsaw, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3916

Philips Wouwerman
Cave interior with travellers, first half of the 1640s
panel, oil paint 27.8 x 30.3 cm
lower right : PH. W
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./ M. Ob. 487


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] Davidson Collection; Von Holst 1934, p. 62 [Van Leeuwen 2013] According to Von Holst (1934), the Wijnants painting was in the collection of Christ[offel] Schumacher and auctioned at his house at 16 Langer Markt in Danzig on 23 March 1771. Von Holst also mentions a Praying Hermit by Schalcken in the collection of a Daniel Gottlieb Davidson in Danzig in 1779 and identifies it with a painting on copper, dated 1687, which belonged to the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. In 1929 it was found in storage in such a poor condition that it was decided to destroy the work. No images are known (e-mail Dr. Elsbeth Wiemann, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, to S. Erkens, 9 April 2013).

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] ‘During the flowering of Dutch painting, the residences of the Danzig bourgeoisie filled with paintings, often first rate ones, which fell into the hands of a limited number of wealthy art lovers in the course of the 18th century’ (In der Blütezeit der Holländischen Malerei füllen sich dann die Danziger Bürgerhäuser mit Gemälden oft ersten Ranges, die sich im Laufe des 18. Jahrhunderts in den Händen einer begrensten Zahl begüterter Kunstfreunde sammeln; […]) (Von Holst 1934, p. 60).

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Nicolai 1786, p. 46.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] Van den Branden 1883, p. 454. [Van Leeuwen 2013] The reference is to Ladislaus IV, who visited both Rubens and the studio of Jan Brueghel on 25 September 1624 (Gent 1997, p. 45).

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Bredius 1932, p. 275.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Czołowski 1937 (The Furnishing of Wilanow Castle at the Time of Jan III, in Polish)

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] Dr. K.E. Simon did so in his review in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 7, 1938, p. 93 of the book by A. Czolowski mentioned in the preceding note (Simon 1938).

8 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 216.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] Simon 1938, p. 95.

10 [Van Leeuwen 2013] Although the subject was described as ‘Allegorical picture in which is found the portrait of the Great Elector of Brandenburg´ (Tableau allégorique, oú se trouve le portrait du Grand Electeur du Brandenbourg) in the inventory of 1795, this would appear to be incorrect. In 1783 it was more accurately described as ‘Allegorical picture representing Justice and Injustice’ (Tableau allégorique representant la Justice et l’Injustice) (see Mańkowski 1932, p. 208). The painting was not inherited, but bought together with other Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Genovese collector Francesco-Maria Balbi by an intermediary, the banker Pierre Blanc. The works were delivered in Warsaw on 3 December 1774 (Mańkowski 1932, pp. 182 and 184).

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Or is Nicolaes Witsen, who had commercial interests in the East, intended? [Van Leeuwen 2013] That was probably not the case. According to the description in Mańkowski (Mańkowski 1932, p. 271, no. 500) it must have been another version of the painting in the Amsterdam Museum (RKDimages 235349). However, no such painting could be found in any Polish collection, but might have entered a Russian collection.

12 [Van Leeuwen 2013] Mention must be made here that a large part of the collection Desenfans brought together for the Polish king, which contained many Dutch and Flemish 17th-century paintings, did not end up in Poland, but in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.( Ellinoor Bergvelt and Michiel Jonker are preparing a publication about this collection for the museum.

13 [Gerson 1942/1983] Mańkowski 1932. [Van Leeuwen 2013] The names Gerson sums up here and in the next paragraph are all derived from Mańkowski 1932, pp. 55-57. The exact number of paintings is given as 2,289.

14 [Van Leeuwen 2013] The two paintings by Rembrandt must be the ones already mentioned in the collection of Jan III Sobieski in Wilanów. Karolina Lanckorońska (1898-2002), daughter of Karol Lanckoroński (1948-1933), donated the painting to the Royal Castle in Warsaw in 1994.

15 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hofstede de Groot 1907-1928, vol. 6 (1915), no. 420 [Van Leeuwen 2013] Gerson was the first author not to accept this painting as a Rembrandt, giving the work to an 18th-century follower or imitator (Bredius/Gerson 1969, no. 129).

16 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hofstede de Groot 1907-1928, vol. 6 (1915) nos. 379 and 778. [Van Leeuwen] The first of these works was already rejected as a Rembrandt by Bredius (1935). The second work was rejected as a Rembrandt and considered to be a work of c. 1634, probably from Rembrandt’s studio, possibly by Govaert Flinck (Bredius/Gerson 1969, no. 195).

17 [Gerson 1942/1983] Mańkowski 1929. [Van Leeuwen 2013] Mańkowski (1929) identified one of these copies, Potiphar's Wife Before Her Husband Accusing Joseph, with a work in the collection of Thomas B. Walker in Minneapolis in 1913 (Minneapolis 1913, pp. 183-184, no. 270), even though the measurements do not correspond.

18 [Van Leeuwen 2013] It is now attributed to Jan Victors (Sumowski 1983-1984, vol. 4, p. 2607, no. 1768).

19 [Van Leeuwen 2013] Three of them have been identified, all rejected as Gerard Dou by R. Baer (Baer 1990, C17, C 25 and C22).

20 [Van Leeuwen 2013] The first 'Berchem' is recently published as a work by Jan Frans Soolmaker (Juszczak/Małachowicz 2013, vol. 1, p. 434-435, cat. no. 301, vol. 2, p. 671, ill. signature, p. 815);  the second painting is now attributed to a Dutch 18th-century follower of Berchem (Dobrzycka 1981, pp. 96-97, no. 149, p. 127, no. 149 and ill. 149 and Michałowski 2005, pp. 198-199, cat. no. 64, with ill.).

21 [Van Leeuwen 2013] Possibly paintings by Jan Hackaert (1628-after 1685), a Dutch Italianate painter, were mixed up with works by the German artist Jakob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807), who worked in the style of the Dutch Italianate painters and whose work was largely present in the collection. The following work used to be attributed to Fredrik de Moucheron, but has recently been associated with Jan Hackaert (Juszczak/Małachowicz 2013, vol. 1, pp. 230-231, cat. no. 147, vol. 2, p. 778, ill.)

22 [Van Leeuwen 2013] At least two authentic Wouwermans remained in Warsaw in the 18th century. They both hung ‘in the dressing room’ (au cabinet de toilette) in Łazienki Palace (Mańkowski 1932, pp. 57, 110, n. 2, 157 and 399, no. 1815 and Mańkowski 1932, p. 205, no. 45, ill. 84). The first painting returned to Warsaw thanks to Karolina Lanckorońska (1898-2002), who donated the work to the Royal Castle in Warsaw in 1994. The second one (RKDimages 239671) was stolen by the Germans during the war but was returned in 1947. B. Schumacher mistakenly attributed the work to Dirk Stoop (Schumacher 2006, vol. 1, p. 476, no. C182 and vol. 2, fig. no. 686). H. Benesz, however, insists on the (old) attribution of the monogrammed piece to Wouwermans (October 2013; see also Benesz 1988, cat. no. 23, ill. in color). This attribution is confirmed by M. De Kinkelder (RKD), who dated the work to the first half of the 1640s (October 2013).

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