Gerson Digital : Denmark


2.12 Students and Emulators of Rembrandt

In the following pages we must turn back to some artists whom we already met in the Schleswig-Holstein area, which was politically part of Denmark.1 It is therefore hardly surprising that we encounter the same artists at the courts of Gottorf and Copenhagen. Rembrandt’s influence became momentarily stronger, but – and this is characteristic of artists working on the periphery of the Dutch sphere of influence – they did not swear by Rembrandt alone to blindly pass by other Dutch or foreign manners. For many artists this reality explains their erratic development and amateurish mixing and imitation of all kinds of incompatible art forms. In addition, Dutch art of the borderlands lacks the kind of wide stream of production in which lesser talents can swim along and be saved from the worst excesses

Hendrik Oldeland (1615-1656)2 was a courtier and amateur painter. He twice went on journeys to the Dutch Republic and Italy. When he was registered at the University of Leiden in 1634, he developed an urge to paint. An etching of 1650 [1640, ed.] [1] shows the influence of Rembrandt in its conception and a connection to Haarlem artists, such as Suyderhoef, in its technique. Oldeland also copied an engraving by Lucas van Leyden [2]. In Vienna there is a fetching drawn Self-Portrait of 1643 [3].

Hendrik Oldelandt
Old man in an armchair, dated 1640
paper, inkt 183 x 156 mm
lower center : H Oldeland Nob. Danus fec. Genua Anno 1640
C.G. Boerner (Leipzig) 1933-11-14 - 1933-11-15, nr. 577

Hendrik Oldelandt possibly after Jan Harmensz. Muller after Lucas van Leyden
Portrait of emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519), dated 24 december 1642
parchment (animal material), black chalk, pen in brown ink 254 x 186 mm
lower center : Henrick Oldelandt 24 dece 1642
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Kupferstich-Kabinett, inv./ C 1827

Hendrik Oldelandt
Self portrait Hendrik Oldelandt (1615-1656), dated 1643
paper 136 x 109 mm
to the right : HE Oldellandt fecit 1643
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 3535

Wolfgang Heimbach
Portrait of King Frederick III of Denmark (1609-1670) kneeling during the battle of Nyborg, dated 1659
panel, oil paint 25,3 x 19,6 cm
lower left : CHP / W/ Copp: 1659.
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 7.102

As we have seen, Wolfgang Heimbach (1613/1616-after 1678) studied in the Netherlands and Italy. His models were Honthorst, the guardroom painters of the time, Pieter de Hooch as well as early Rembrandt compositions. In Denmark, where he worked from 1653 to 1656 and to which he returned in 1667, he painted mainly dry portraits [4-5] and colorful genre pictures [6-7] which do not belong to the best of his work.3 He further showed himself to be a good citizen, for when the Oldenburg Land was united with Denmark in 1667 [1660, ed.], he painted a picture of the oath of allegiance, which includes a self-portrait (Rosenborg Castle) [8].4 It is not a masterpiece of perspective, especially when one considers what Jan van der Heyden or the Berckheydes achieved at the time.

Wolfgang Heimbach
Portrait of count Christian Rantzau (1614-1663), c. 1653
panel, oil paint 26 x 20 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ A 805

Wolfgang Heimbach
An accountant, dated 1653
canvas, oil paint 43,6 x 31,2 cm
lower left : CHP / W / fec. 1653
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 7.282

Wolfgang Heimbach
Doorcloser, dated 1654
canvas, oil paint 99,5 x 68 cm
lower right : CHP / W / fec. 1654
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 7.285

We observe the same mixture of Dutch guardroom painting and influences of the Rembrandt School in the small surviving oeuvre of Thomas Mathisen of Husum.5 Such guardroom pictures are found in the Copenhagen Museum [9-10], and Fredensborg Castle has a copy, ostensibly dated 1643 , after Rembrandt’s (?) Leningrad painting, Young and old woman in front of a mirror (HdG 310) [11-12].6 In 1674 Mathisen was a member of the Bent in Rome, but nothing is known about any stay in The Dutch Republic.7 Karel van Mander probably introduced him to the Rembrandt style, which clearly shows up in another picture in Fredensborg (Old man reading, signed) [13]. This manner is a little less pronounced in The Barn (same location) [14], which is reminiscent of Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh and Cornelis Saftleven.

Wolfgang Heimbach
Paying homage to the Hereditary King in front of the Castle of Copenhagen, 18th October, 1660, dated 1666
canvas, oil paint 126,7 x 232,3 cm
lower left : Oldenburg. / Wolffg. Heimbach./ c: fec: Anno 1666.
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./ 7.100

Thomas Mathisen
Cardplayers in courtyard, dated 1650
panel, oil paint 40 x 53,5 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSst92

Thomas Mathisen
panel, oil paint 41 x 53 cm
upper right : Thomas M. f
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMS1538

manner of/after Ferdinand Bol
Young and old woman in front of a mirror, late 1630s
panel, oil paint 41 x 31 cm
Saint Petersburg (Russia), Hermitage, inv./ ГЭ-783

Thomas Mathisen after follower of Ferdinand Bol
Young and old woman in front of a mirror
canvas, oil paint 124 x 95 cm
: 1643
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSst84

Thomas Mathisen
Old man reading, dated 26 February 1643
canvas, oil paint 118 x 99 cm
lower right : d. 26. Februari 1643. Thomas Mathiæ
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSst91

Thomas Mathisen
Farm interior, dated 1643
canvas, oil paint 93 x 104 cm
lower right : TMF 1643
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSst392

Broder Matthisen (died in Husum in 1666) was until 1661 court painter and building inspector at the Gottorf court, even though he also became court painter in Berlin in 1659. He also supplied the Danish King with paintings, and a weak portrait by his hand is preserved in Frederiksborg (no. 985) [15-16].8 The still lifes in Dresden and Schwerin, of which we have spoken [in the chapter on Germany, ed.], vouch for his Dutch schooling [17-18].

after Broder Matthisen
Portrait of general Stefan Czarniecki (1599-1665), dated 1660
canvas, oil paint 132 x 106 cm
lower left : B.M. fecit Arhusius Anno 1660
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./ R 61

Broder Matthisen
Portrait of field hetman Stefan Czarniecki (1599-1665), dated 1659
canvas, oil paint 228 x 119 cm
lower center : Broder Matthisen fecit/Anno 1659
Warszawa, Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, inv./ ZKW/3411

Broder Matthisen
Vanitas still life with unfolded books, musical instruments, precious vessels and a globe, c. 1664
canvas, oil paint 138 x 119 cm
left : Mathisen fecit
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden - Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, inv./ 1996 A

Broder Matthisen
Still life with columbine cup, brandy bowl and fruit on a covered table, dated 1664
canvas, oil paint 66,5 x 62,5 cm
upper right : BRODERVS MATHISEN PIN 1664
Schwerin, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, inv./ 391

Bernhard Keil (1624-1687), a Rembrandt student from Helsingør, never became of importance for Denmark, as he ended his life as a good Catholic in Rome, before which he had spent for eight years as one of Rembrandt’s students in Amsterdam. He was introduced to the fundaments of Dutch art by Morten van Steenwinckel in Copenhagen, but his stay in Italy appears to have wiped out all traces of Dutch schooling, so that Italian scholarship now gives the only surviving picture in Denmark, Evening visit to a sculptor, to an unknown Caravaggio follower [19].9

Heinrich Jansen (1625-1667), who came from Flensburg, was a Rembrandt student for three years (from 1654 to 1658) and visited the Dutch Republic once more when he undertook a great journey to Spain and Italy. From 1657 to 1661 he was court painter to Frederick III in Copenhagen. He spent the rest of his life in Flensburg.10 He repeatedly copied pictures by Rembrandt, especially his early works, such as the Christ in the Garden and the Presentation in the Temple, both in Copenhagen [20-21].11 A signed drawing of The Healing of Tobias, discovered by K.E. Simon, has ended up in the Copenhagen print cabinet [22]. It is more reminiscent of Bramer, Moeyaert and contemporary mannerists than of any early work by Rembrandt.

attributed to Adam de Coster
Two sculptors at night : François Du Quesnoy (1597-1643) and Georg Petel (1601/1602-1633/1634), c. 1622
canvas, oil paint 114 x 95 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSsp810

Heinrich Jansen after Rembrandt
The risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene, c. 1645-1649
panel, oil paint 61 x 52 cm
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMS1523

Heinrich Jansen
Presentation in the temple, dated 1649
canvas, oil paint 63 x 53 cm
: Henrich Jansen von Holstein Inven: & fecit./: 1649:
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMS1524

Heinrich Jansen
Tobias healing his father (Tobit 11: 13-15), 1654-1667
paper, charcoal 230 x 221 mm
lower center : Jansen
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, inv./ Td 507, nr. 1c recto

We have already spoken in detail about Jürgen Ovens (1623-1678).12 He was likewise a Rembrandt student in the forties, but his nimble nature looked to Flemish inspiration for his portraits and biblical compositions. He played a significant role in Gottorf. He also accompanied Princes Hedvig Eleonora as her court painter to her wedding in Stockholm [23]. In the 1650s, while Frederick III lingered in Flensburg, Ovens painted some scenes from Danish history for the Copenhagen court, which are today preserved in Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen [24-33],13 and, predictably, several portraits.14 The pictures of this time are good examples of his Rembrandtesque manner.

Jürgen Ovens
The marriage of princess Hedwig Eleonore of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf with the Swedish king Charles X Gustav on 24 October 1654, c. 1655-1657
canvas, oil paint 212 x 306 cm
lower left : Ovens. f.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, inv./ NM 908










Jürgen Ovens
Allegory on the fortunate rule of the Danish king Christian I, c. 1663-1665
canvas, oil paint 144 x 209 cm
lower right : Der Dänen, Norwegen und Schweden ihr Reich / Herrscher der König Christianus zugleich / So lang Zeit er lebet, er sitzet in Ruh / Gott gab ihm auch Glücke dazu
Kolding (Denmark), Museet på Koldinghus, inv./ 9173

His student, Magnus Jørgensen (active 1683-1719), who hailed from Randers, painted several allegories (Fredensborg, Randers, Lund) in which one can still discern a little of Ovens’ teaching [34-36].

Magnus Jørgensen
An old man in an interior holding a printed sermon, dated 1709
canvas, oil paint 79 x 76 cm
center right : Magn. Jürgens. Pinx/A 1709
Randers, Randers Kunstmuseum, inv./ 0074

Magnus Jørgensen
Vanitas with Minerva, dated 1709
canvas, oil paint 171 x 139 cm
center right : Magnus Jürgensen pict: E invent: Ao 1709
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./ KMSst462

Magnus Jørgensen
Peasant meal, dated 1701
canvas, oil paint 162 x 131 cm
: Magnus Jürgens Pinx et in funter A: 17
Lund (Sweden), Kulturhistoriska föreningen för södra Sverige, inv./ KM 14554

Horatius Paulijn (c. 1644-in or after 1682) intended to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jan Rote, but the journey came to a premature end in Hamburg. Paulijn appears to have worked in, or at least for, Denmark, as is indicated by a portrait of Sophie Amalia Moth [37].15 We repeatedly encounter paintings by Paulijn in Danish auction catalogues and old collections, but secure attributions remain rarities even today (collection Belgioso, Milan) [38].16

Abraham van der Hecken also had Danish clients. In 1653 Joachim Beck, who came from ‘Güstrow in the realm of Denmark’, had himself portrayed by Van der Hecken, and that in two versions, once simple and unexceptional and the second with accessories and frame for 168 Rijcxdaelders [420 guilders].17

Horatius Paulijn
Portrait of Sophia Amalia Moth (1654-1719), Countess of Samsø, mistress of King Christian V of Denmark, dated 1682
canvas, oil paint 46 x 51 cm
upper right : Horatius Paulii
Haslev, Gisselfeld Kloster, inv./ 50 (cat. 1918)

Horatius Paulijn
Lute player in an interior, c. 1670-1680
canvas, oil paint 52 x 40 cm
topside (positional attribute) : HORATIUS PAVLYN FECIT
Milan, Castello Sforzesco, inv./ 1318


1 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The RKD plans to start work on the German chapter in the course of 2015.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Thorlacius-Ussing 1934.

3 [Van Leeuwen 2015] On Heimbach, see Schlüter-Göttsche 1966 and Morsbach 1999.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Heimbach painted it six years later, in 1666.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 24 (1930), p. 264. If the artist who signed as ‘Thomas Matthiae’ or ‘Thomas Mathisen’ is the same person as the ‘F. Matheus from there [the society of Dutch and Flemish artists in Rome] named the Pious painter of Antwerp’ (F. Matheus van daar [de Schildersbent] genaamt de Vrome schilder van Antwerpen) (identification by Von Wurzbach 1906-1911, taken over by all other authors), then he did not come from Husum but from Antwerp. Even if this identification is incorrect, there is still little reason to assume that the artist came from Husum.

6 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The date of 1643 on this work was erroneously mentioned by Wurzbach and Thieme/Becker. However, according to the collection catalogues of the Statens Museum (1946, 1951 and an online version of 2014), it is not this painting that is dated 1643, but the Scholar in his study  which was traditionally thought to be the pendant. This explains why Gerson was not able to locate the date upon inspection.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The assumption that Thomas Mathisen is the same as ‘The Pious’ Bentvueghel F. Matheus is not convincing (see note 5). Mathisen’s Rembrandtesque paintings are related to Ferdinand Bol, whose work he must have known well. This speaks for an Amsterdam stay around 1640.

8 [Van Leeuwen 2015] A better version, in full length, is found in the Royal Castle in Warsaw (RKDimages 232394). See also the previous section, § 2.11.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] Gerson 1942/1983, pp. 160-161. [Van Leeuwen 2015] Gerson based himself on Longhi, who attributed the work to a Flemish Caravaggist of c. 1615-1630 (Longhi 1936). Nicolson first attributed the work to Adam de Coster, as a portrait of two art dealers or artists (Nicolson 1961). In the later literature it is always advanced as a portrait of the sculptors François Du Quesnoy (1597-1643) and Georg Petel (1601/2-1634).

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Madsen 1914A.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] I saw only the Christ as Gardner in Frederiksborg. It is an unsigned copy after Rembrandt. Nor could I locate a signature on the above-mentioned Rembrandt copy by Mathisen (see note 7, ed.).[Van Leeuwen 2015] The signature ‘Heinrich Jansen von Holstein inven: & fecit/: 1649’ (facsimile in Madsen 1914A) is not found on the Noli me tangere but on the Presentation in the Temple , which is not a copy of Rembrandt but a work in his manner done in Flensburg after Jansen’s Amsterdam apprenticeship with Rembrandt..

12 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Gerson 1942/1983, passim (especially in the chapter on Germany). The RKD is planning to start work on the German chapter in 2015.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The decorations were transferred to Frederiksborg around 1880. One piece subsequently (?) ended up in Sønderborg Castle (RKD images 242684). RKDimages 242836 is located in Museet på Koldinghus, Kolding and, given the deviating provenance, probably does not belong to the series.

14 [Gerson 1942/1983] Schmidt 1922 , pp. 163-168. [Van Leeuwen 2015] Sumowski 1983-1994, vol. 3, pp. 2218-2306; Drees 1997. We have not been able to locate any portraits done at the Danish court during this period.

15 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Sophie Amalie Moth (1654-1719), official mistress of King Christian V, was granted estates in Gottorp in 1682.

16 [Gerson 1942/1983] Falck 1917.

17 [Gerson 1942/1983] Bredius 1915-1921, vol. 7. p. 102.

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