Gerson Digital : Denmark


2.10 Abraham Wuchters

Christian IV could pride himself on having called Abraham Wuchters (1608-1682) to Copenhagen, where his career blossomed to the particular profit of Christian’s successors. Wuchters arrived in Copenhagen in 1638 and at once introduced himself in style with two successful portraits of the king (Frederiksborg) [1],1 so that he was that same year appointed as director of the drawing academy of Sorø, as successor to Reinhold Thim (†1639).

We know nothing about his Dutch training. There is supposed to be a study head ‘in the manner of Rembrandt’ in a German private collection,2 which implies that he grew up in Amsterdam.3 The early portraits of the thirties and forties attest to a man who is in sure and forceful control of his brush, but there is no evidence of an apprenticeship with Rembrandt. The treatment of the incidence of light is fresh and personal [2].4

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of King Christian IV of Denmark (1577-1648), dated 163[8]
canvas, oil paint 204 x 110 cm
bottom (positional attribute) : Abraham Wuchters fecit / Anno 163[8]
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ A2501

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of the Swedish officer Heinrich von Delwig (1620-1696), 1661-1662
paper on linen, oil paint, grisaille 31,5 x 21,5 cm
lower right : A. Wuchters . f
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Frederick III, son of King Christian IV of Denmark, c. 1645
canvas, oil paint 237 x 144 cm
Copenhagen, Amalienborg

Later Wuchters achieved an original synthesis of the elegance of Van Dyck’s gestures and a precise and unadorned way of painting. Along with Karel van Mander, he was Denmark’s most important portraitist. He painted particularly successful portraits of Frederick III [3] and two statesmen, Peter Griffenfeld [4-6] and Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve (Copenhagen, c. 1645) [7]. Especially the Gyldenløve portrait shows Wuchters’ art at its best in its warm light, dreamy glance, effective textural treatment of the robe, elegant pose, and decorative accessories.

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Peder Schumacher, count of Griffenfeld (1635-1699), c. 1675
copper, oil paint 78 x 61 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Peder Schumacher, count of Griffenfeld (1635-1699), 1673
copper, oil paint 78,5 x 66 cm
Copenhagen, Københavns Universitet

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Peder Schumacher, count of Griffenfeld (1635-1699), before 1672
panel, oil paint 40,8 x 30 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 6-560

Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve (1630-1658), son of King Christian IV of Denmark, dated 164[5]
canvas, oil paint 208,6 x 123,5 cm
lower right : A. Wuchters f. Ao 164[?]
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ 617

Abraham Wuchters
Equestrian portrait of King Christian V of Denmark (1646-1699), c. 1668
canvas, oil paint 161 x 112 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ A 2892

The example of Van Dyck is most in evidence in the case of an equestrian portrait of Christian V (formerly in Gaunø, now in Frederiksborg) of around 1668, for which Van Dyck’s composition of the Franceso de Moncada now in the Louvre, must have served as model [8-9].

Anthony van Dyck
Equestrian portrait of Francisco de Moncada Y Moncada, Marqués de Aytona (1586-1635), c. 1633-1634
canvas, oil paint 307 x 242 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ 1240

Abraham Wuchters
The Last Supper, c. 1656
280 x 195 cm
Sorø, Sorø Klosterkirke

Peter Paul Rubens
The institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, c. 1631-1632
panel, oil paint 304 x 250 cm
Milaan, Pinacoteca di Brera

The church of Sorø owns a Last Supper (1656) by his hand, with a composition that is certainly based on a Rubens engraving [10-11]. It is what one might expect from an academy director. For instance, the Dutchmen in southern Germany who may paint portraits in a weak Dutch style, prefer to draw on models by Rubens when the need to compose a monumental work arises.5

Minor indigenous masters like K. Jacobsen [12]6 and Johan Thim (c. 1615-1674)7 in turn followed Wuchters, whereas Adriaen Muiltjes (1601-1648), a Dutch painter who returned to Haarlem in 1639,8 modeled his work on Steenwinckel’s portraits [13]. Several portraits signed A.M. are attributed to him, such as an attractive small picture of 1638 in Frederiksborg, which shows Prince Christian on a Duck Hunt [14], and has a landscape that looks particularly Dutch (Adriaen van de Venne, Adriaen Bloemaert, Charles de Hooch).9 The documents often identify this Muiltjes as a copyist, and if one looks closely, it really seems possible that he took portraits and landscapes from large works by Van Mander and Wuchters and competently reduced them to small and graceful works. A portrait of King Christian of the previous year (Rosenborg) [15] scarcely resembles Wuchters’ pictures. The paintings signed A.M. have also been ascribed to one Andreas Magerstadt [16], a portraitist from Hamburg who received payments from the Gottorf court in 1646 and 1651, but this seems incorrect given the dates.10

K. Jacobsen
Portrait of Knud Thott (1639-1702)
canvas, oil paint, grisaille 61 x 49,5 cm
lower left : K. Jacobsen pinx.
Private collection

Adriaen Muiltjes free after Morten van Steenwinckel
King Christian IV (1577-1648) and the Prince Elect on horseback, c. 1635-1638
unknown, oil paint 79 x 94 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ A 505

Monogrammist AM (1639)
Prince Christian duck hunting at Nykøbing Castle, 1639 (dated)
panel, oil paint 12,5 x 27,3 cm
lower right : AM 1639
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMS1530

Adriaen Muiltjes
Portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648), dated 1638
canvas, oil paint 52 x 42 cm
: A.M. 1638
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

Andreas Magerstadt
Portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648), dated 1645
copper, oil paint 38 x 27 cm
: Andr. Magerstadt / Fecit / ao 1645
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ A 2665

Possibly, further portraits of Christian originated with him, but one must also take into account other, lesser-known painters, such as Andreas Quant (1655-after 1692), to whom a picture in Hampton Court is attributed [17].11 Work by Divert Rave, who studied with Pieter de Grebber (c. 1600-1652/53) in Haarlem before 1652, has yet to emerge. De Grebber is to have painted a lot for Denmark, but these paintings also remain to be identified [18].12

after Karel van Mander (III)
Christian IV (1577-1648), king of Denmark, after c. 1643
panel, oil paint 71,4 x 57,2 cm
Hampton Court Palace (Molesey), Royal Collection - Hampton Court, inv./ 406048

Pieter de Grebber
Belshazzar's great feast, during which he and his courtiers desecrate the golden and silver vessels that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem, a hand appears writing on the wall (Daniel 5:5), dated 1625
panel (oak), oil paint 151 x 223 cm
lower center : P DG / AN 1625
Kassel (Hessen), Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, inv./ GK 221

Willem van der Laegh published by Abraham Wuchters after Lambert van Haven
King Christian V in anointing robes on the throne, dated 1674
paper, copper engraving 332 x 213 mm
lower left : L. van Haven Pinxit
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, inv./ KKSgb9489

The finely-drawn portraits, engravings or pen and ink drawings give us reason to point out that several Dutch engravers, such as Servatius de Kock (†1639) (from Leiden),13 Joan van Noordt, Hendrik Hondius I (1573-1650),14 Willem van der Laegh (c. 1614-1676)15 (from Haarlem) [19-20], G. Wingendorp [21], Mathias Peters (1614-1676) [22],16 Albert Haelwegh (1620-1673) (Dutch?)17 and David Loggan (from Danzig), worked in Denmark.18 Haelwegh and Loggan are to have been students of Simon de Passe.19 Haelwegh, who took over the title of ‘engraver of king Christian IV’ (Sculptor regis Christiani IV) with the death of Simon de Passe, is the more important of the two. He engraved a lot after Wuchters and Karel van Mander III.20

Willem van der Laegh after Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Johan Casper Cicignon (1625-1696), colonel and gouvernor of Bergen, dated 1662
paper ? x ? mm
Copenhagen, Royal Library (Copenhagen)

G. Wingendorp after Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Ole Worm (1588-1654), dated 1654
paper, copper engraving 274 x 179 mm
Amsterdam, Universiteitsbibliotheek Amsterdam, inv./ 318 G 32

Mathias Peters
Titelpage of Antonius Heimreich's 'Ernewrete NordFresische Chronik' with engraved portrait of the author, 1668
paper, copper engraving ? x ? mm
Copenhagen, Royal Library (Copenhagen), inv./ W. 4712


1 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The second portrait Gerson was referring to is probably RKDimages 65981. It was attributed to Wuchters back then, but it has long ago been reattributed to Karel van Mander III. On Wuchters, see the article by Michael Bøg Rasmussen, § 6. Over 200 artworks by or related to Wuchters have been added to RKDimages for the Gerson Digital Project.

2 [Van Leeuwen 2015] We were not able to trace this work.

3 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Wuchters first lived in Zwolle, but he was in Amsterdam in 1635, when he declared his intention to marry and probably thayed there afterwards. The Ondertrouwregister    of the Amsterdam City Achives (DTB 765, p. 71) states: ‘The same [11 August] have registered on the deed of W. (Halenius or Hellenius), priest of Zwolle, Abraham Wuchters of Antwerp living in Zwolle [and] Christina Cornelis Nu(n)t of Copenhagen, widow of Adriaen Woutersz Draeckx also living in Zwolle’   (‘Ditto [11 Augustus] voorscreven sijn op d' acte van W: (Halenius of Hellenius) priester tot Swoll ingete(e)kent Abraham Wuchters van Antwerpen woonen(de) tot Swoll Christina Cornelis Nunts van Coppenhaegen wed(uw)e van Adriaen Woutersz Draeckx mede woon(ende) tot Swoll’. That he was married to the daughter of a Dutch merchant in Copenhagen must have facilitated his immigration to Denmark.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Although Gerson chose this illustration for his edition of 1942, it is not really an example of Wuchters’ early work, dating instead from the early 1660s.

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Madsen 1915A; Andrup 1916; Beckett 1918; Thorlacius-Ussing 1936; Thorlacius-Ussing 1936A.

6 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Known only from this signed work.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Povl Eller identified Johan Thim as a Johan Maler mentioned in Sophie Brahe’s account book (1634 and 1636) and attributed a whole group of portraits to him on this basis (Eller 1971). According to Bergild and Jensen the painter mentioned in Sophie Brahe’s account book is not Johan Thim but Johan Jørgensen Kulbars (Bergild/Jensen 1991A, p. 120). According to Thieme/Becker the only work certainly attributable to him is a portrait of Holger Vind with wife and 13 children, now in a Danish private collection. The work is monogrammed ‘J.T.f 1672 (no image known).

8 [Van Leeuwen 2015] He was probably once more active in Amsterdam in 1638. In that year he was commissioned to paint seven ancestral portraits for Gerrit Pietersz. Schaap, alderman of Amsterdam (G. Korevaar in Middelkoop et al. 2002, p. 92). This information rules him out as the painter of RKDimages 242986.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] The same subject, dated 1639, in the museum of Copenhagen seems better in execution to me. There is also a similar picture in Rosenborg Castle. Until 1996, a number of paintings (mostly Italianate landscapes) were attributed to Adriaen Bloemaert, son of Abraham Bloemaert; However, these are the work of Abraham Blommaert from Middelburg, working from 1651 to 1671 (Bok/Roethlisberger 1996).

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Beckett 1934, p. 156; De Roever 1886, p. 196; Bredius 1915-1921, vol. 5, p. 1515; vol. 7, pp. 111, 163. – On Magerstadt, see especially Andrup 1936, pp. 108-110.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] This Quant is first mentioned in the documents in 1678, which is why the attribution of this picture would appear to be incorrect. [Van Leeuwen 2015] In truth this work (copy after Karel van Mander) cannot be by this Andreas Quant. His portraits date from the last quarter of the 17th century (see RKDimages 254735). He belonged to a family from Germany (presumably Bremen).

12 [Gerson 1942/1983] See Thieme/Becker 1907-1953, invoking De Grebber. In any case, the ‘Menetekel’ of the Habich auction, Berlin 9.5.1892, no. 70 comes from Gottorf. [Van Leeuwen 2015] Indeed, Belshazzar's Feast, now in Kassel, is still the only known painting by De Grebber that could have been painted in Schleswig, then part of Denmark (Saur 1992-, vol. 61 [2009], p. 139). On the other hand, many history paintings were shipped from the Republic.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Servatius de Kock in any case worked in Copenhagen between 1622 and 1625, both as engraver for the university (1622) and in the service of Christian IV (1622-1623). In 1625 he sat on the board of the German church, the Skt. Petri kirke in Copenhagen (Weilbach).

14 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Gerson here based himself on Beckett, who quoted from the state archive (Sjæll. Tegnelser, XXI, 10) (in translation): ‘On 11 May 1613 -- so we learn – Hendrik Hondius is given 100 guilders in cash to ‘make’ a plate, which is to say ‘to make a copper engraving’ of the siege of Kalmar. And when this plate is finished, the toll officials of Helsingør are to give Hondius the rest – how much is not mentioned – because the feudal lord of Baahus, Jørgen Lunge had come to an agreement concerning his payment with him. [...] His specialism was precisely the depiction of sieges and battles. However, we do not have an engraving of the siege of Kalmar by him and nothing more is known about his stay in Denmark than what is mentioned above’ (Beckett 1937, p. 101).

15 [Van Leeuwen 2015] He went to Copenhagen around 1671 together with his second wife, Catrina de Leeuw (Lecoeur?). In 1674-1675 he worked for Abraham Wuchters. Although he and his wife were Catholic, they were allowed to be buried in the cemetery of Holmen, his wife on 2 September 1674 and Van der Laegh himself on 4 January 1676 (Weilbach online).

16 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Described in Weilbach as Mattis Petersen, born and died in Husum in Schleswig, then part of Denmark. He is tought to have been in Amsterdam around 1660 (Weilbach online).

17 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Haelwegh was baptized in Deventer on 1 January 1621. Perhaps he was trained by Jonas Suyderhoef in Haarlem before he arrived in Denmark c. 1643/44, where he was to spend the rest of his life (Weilbach online).

18 [Van Leeuwen 2015] As far as is known, Loggan never worked in Denmark (Saur 1992- , vol. 85 [2015], p. 176.

19 [Van Leeuwen 2015) In fact Loggan was a pupil of Simon’s brother Crispijn de Passe in Amsterdam (Saur 1992- vol. 85 [2015], p. 176.

20 [Gerson 1942/1983] Sthyr 1938. [Van Leeuwen 2015] For Gerson Digital, 86 prints by Haelwegh were added to RKDimages.

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