Gerson Digital : Poland


4.3 Uylenburgh's Biblical Series for the Dutch Art Market

One portrait by Rombout Uylenburgh of a Mennonite preacher, is known to us from a print1 [1], but inventories establish that he was specialized in biblical grisailles, monochrome works, usually in grey or brown tints, which were called ‘graeuwtjes’ (meaning small grey or drab panels) in the 17th century. He rendered these in series, including on commission from his brother-in-law Sijbrant Fries, who lived in Leiden.2 In 1627 (meaning shortly after his return to the Republic) Rombout’s brother Hendrick owned 16 of his grisailles with biblical subjects: ‘four grey paintings by Romtelt van Uylenborch’ (vier graeuwe schilderijen van Romtelt van Uylenborch), ‘two more grey ditto by the same Uylenborch, a little smaller, all six being biblical histories’ (noch twee graeuwe ditto van denselven Uylenborch, wat cleynder, sijnde alle ses Bijbelsche historien), ‘two more grey ditto by the mentioned Uijlenborch, the one a Tobias and the other a Judgment’ (noch twee graeuwe ditto van den voorsz. Uijlenborch, ’t eene van Tobias ende ’t ander een Oordeel) and eight more grey ditto of one format, though a half smaller, also being biblical histories’ (noch acht graeuwe ditto op een formaet, wel de helft cleynder, sijnde mede Bijbelse historien).3 In 2005 and 2012 Amsterdam’s Museum Het Rembrandthuis was able to acquire two of these works, Jojada Commands in the Presence of King Joash to Have Athalia Taken Out and Executed [2] and Joash, Protected by Soldiers, is Crowned and Anointed King [3]. There are many similarities with the series in the drawing book, such as the elaborate architectural backgrounds, the carefully rendered disposition of the drapery, the imposing beards, the large raised hands, as with the third figure from the left in The Coronation of Joash, and, naturally, the white heightening, which is applied much as it is in the drawings on blue paper.

Cornelis van Dalen (I) after Casper Casteleyn after Rombout Uylenburgh published by Gerrit van Goedesbergh
Portrait of Jan Gerritsz. van Emden (1561-1617)
paper, copper engraving 141 x 93 mm
lower left : Vÿlenburgh pinxit. / J. Casteleÿn delineavit
Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Rombout Uylenburgh
Joash, protected by the soldiers, is crowned and anointed king (2 Kings 11:12), c. 1620
canvas, oil paint, grisaille 41.5 x 56.5 cm
Amsterdam, Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Rombout Uylenburgh
Jehoiada commands, in the presence of King Joash, to take Athalia out and to execute her (2 Kings 11:14-16; 2 Chronicles 23:15), c. 1620
canvas, oil paint, grisaille 39.7 x 54.3 cm
Amsterdam, Museum Het Rembrandthuis


1 Portrait of Jan Gerritsz. van Emden (1561-1617), dated 1616 on the print. The sitter lived in Danzig at that time. The facial type closely resembles that of several figures in Rombout’s oeuvre.

2 Lammertse/Van der Veen 2006, p. 22.

3 Muncipal Archives Amsterdam, notary J. Warnaertz., NA 661, fols. 131v-132r, dated 26 March 1627, after Van der Veen 2001, pp. 49-51; Lammertse/Van der Veen 2006, p. 30.

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