Gerson Digital : Denmark

RKD STUDIES

2.7 The Kronborg Paintings

Simon de Passe was in the Dutch Republic in 1637 to assign the commissions for the sketches, and he returned two years later to distribute the more important and valuable orders for the paintings. It was no doubt the largest foreign commission that had ever come the way of Utrecht painters. As Crispijn de Passe II was not a painter, his designs had to be executed by other artists. In general the choice of artists did not correspond precisely to those represented in the Copenhagen sketchbook. Other painters, even non-Utrecht ones, now became involved. Thus, in the end, sundry paintings expected to cost between 400 and 500 guilders each were ordered from Adriaen van Nieulandt (c. 1586/87-1658), Salomon Koninck (1609-1656), Nicolaes Knüpfer (c. 1609-1655), Claes Moeyaert (1591-1655), Isaac Isaacsz (1598-1649) and Simon Peter Tilman (1601-1668).1

Gerard van Honthorst asked for more money. No fewer than 37,500 guilders were promised to him for 25 history paintings, a truly princely sum!2 Honthorst’s art was no longer unknown in Denmark. A few years before, in 1635, he had rendered four ceiling paintings with scenes from Heliodorus’ Aethiopica [1-4] and four medallions with guardian spirits, containing the monogram of Christian IV (later changed to that of Christian V) [5-8].3


1
Gerard van Honthorst
Theagenes and Chariclea fall in love in Delphi during the Pythian Games (Heliodorus' Aethiopica' book 3), 1634/1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

2
Gerard van Honthorst
Theagenes receives the winner's crown from Chariclea (Heliodorus, Aethiopica), 1634/1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot


3
Gerard van Honthorst
The wounded Theagenes and the desperate Charicleia found on the beach by pirates (Heliodorus, Aethiopica, book 1, first scene), in or before 1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

4
Gerard van Honthorst
Chariclea is recognized by her parents, 1634/1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot


5
Gerard van Honthorst
Flying cupids with King Christian IV's monogram, dated 1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
lower center : G. Honthorst fe. 1635
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

6
Gerard van Honthorst
Cupids with Heir Apparent and Magdalena Sibylla's monograms, 1634/1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

7
Gerard van Honthorst
Cupids with Queen Anne Catherine's monogram, 1634/1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

8
Gerard van Honthorst
Flying cupids with the monograms of Frederik II and Queen Sophie, parents of King Christian IV of Denmark, dated 1635
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
bottom (positional attribute) : GHonthorst fe 1635
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

Those are the only paintings of the castle’s original decorative scheme that are still in their original location. Everything else that was not nailed down was carried off by the Swedes in 1658.4 Many history paintings of the Utrecht School which once graced Kronborg are now found in Skokloster Castle, which belongs to the heirs of general Carl Gustav Wrangel (1613-1676) [9], and in other Swedish collections.5


9
David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
Equestrian portrait of Count Carl Gustav Wrangel, Marshall of the Realm (1613-1676), dated 1652
canvas, oil paint 309 x 316 cm
: David Klöker fecit Ao 1652
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 698

10
Gerard van Honthorst
King Frode Fredegod of Denmark hailed by many kings, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 281 x 331 cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot, inv./cat.nr. 428



No fewer than nine works can be attributed to Honthorst [10-18],


11
Gerard van Honthorst
Harald Klak and his family are baptized in Mainz, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 228 x 481 cm
Private collection

12
Gerard van Honthorst
King Albrecht hands over the Swedish crown to Queen Margaret I in 1389, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 247 x 504 cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot


13
Gerard van Honthorst
Cavalry battle, dated 1643
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Drottningholm, Drottningholm Slott

14
Gerard van Honthorst
Fridlev, the son of King Frode III, kills a dragon, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 310 x 310 cm
Private collection


15
Gerard van Honthorst
Battle at a bridge close fight between the Cimbri and the Romans, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 305 x 350 cm
lower right : G. Honthorst
Private collection

16
Gerard van Honthorst
Christian I meets prince Maximilian at Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1474, dated 1643
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
center right : G. Honthorst 1643
Private collection


17
Gerard van Honthorst
King Hans at the battle of Rotebro before Stockholm in 1497, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 290 x 288 cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot, inv./cat.nr. 423

18
Gerard van Honthorst
Frederik I at the siege in Copenhagen in 1523, c. 1640
canvas, oil paint 274 x 286 cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot


as well as three6 to Isaac Isaacsz [19] and a few each to Claes Moeyaert [20-21], Salomon Koninck [22] and Adriaen van Nieulandt [23]. No picture is dated later than 1643, so that we may assume that the work had been concluded by then. Even so, it seems unlikely that the commission orchestrated by Simon de Passe, with its more than 80 pictures, was carried out in full [24-25].7 The payment did not proceed quickly either, for in 1646 Moeyaert still had to receive 800 guilders from the Danish king. In any case, nothing came of the production of engravings by Simon de Passe. His heirs requested the return of the copper plates and pictures from his estate, wanting to sell everything in Utrecht. We may therefore assume that the king had yet to pay for them, or his heirs would not have had any right to ask for the return of these works.

19
Isaac Isaacsz.
Harold Klak is received by emperor Ludwig in 826, dated 1640
canvas, oil paint 163,5 x 345 cm
below, right of the middle : Isaac Isaacsen Fecit Ao 1640
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1954

20
Claes Moeyaert
The funeral of a heathen king, dated 1643
canvas, oil paint 162 x 341 cm
lower left : C[....] Mo[.]yaert 1643
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 3633

21
Claes Moeyaert
The baptism of Harald Bluetooth,
canvas, oil paint 194 x 373 cm
Uppland, Östra Ryds kyrka

22
Salomon Koninck
The royal double betrothals or nupitials of 1502, c. 1642
canvas, oil paint 165 x 345 cm
: Salomon Koninck f.
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1955

23
Adriaen van Nieulandt
Radulph outwits the Wends at Roskilde, dated 1643
canvas, oil paint 164,5 x 315 cm
left center : Adriaen van Nieulandt Anno 1643
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1953

24
Simon Peter Tilman after Simon de Passe
Pagan procession, dated 1641
canvas, oil paint 252 x 370 cm
: Simon Petrus Tilman / 1641
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, inv./cat.nr. NM 4573

25
Simon Peter Tilman free after Simon de Passe
The Cimbrians defeating the Romans, dated 1641
canvas, oil paint 240 x 320 cm
: Simon Petrus Tilman / Ao 1641
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm, inv./cat.nr. NM 4576

At approximately the same time as Honthorst, an indigenous painter must have worked on the ceiling paintings in Kronborg Castle. In any case, one Morten van Steenwinckel (1595-1646) was paid in 1634 for ten pictures in the queen’s chamber in Kronborg, which may still be seen there [26-35]. They are decidedly weaker and more antiquated than Honthorst’s paintings in the adjacent room.

26
Morten van Steenwinckel
Mars, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

27
Morten van Steenwinckel
Apollo, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

28
Morten van Steenwinckel
Jupiter, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

29
Morten van Steenwinckel
Venus, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

30
Morten van Steenwinckel
Diana, ca, 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

31
Morten van Steenwinckel
Dawn, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

32
Morten van Steenwinckel
Night, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

33
Morten van Steenwinckel
Neptune, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

34
Morten van Steenwinckel
Saturn, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

35
Morten van Steenwinckel
Mercurius, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
Helsingør, Kronborg Slot

Steenwinckel had also been to Italy and studied Caravaggio’s work, but the result of all this study does not justify the admiration that contemporaries lavished on his naturalistic depictions. If we believe Sandrart, Steenwinckel was able to paint horses so deceptively that they were neighed at by living animals [36-38].8 I do not believe that Steenwinckel’s horses on the Kronborg ceiling ever heard live specimen neighing at them.9 Steenwinckel, the court painter of Prince Christian, was not a Dutchman, as one often reads. He was born in the Province of Halland [now in Sweden] as son of an Antwerp architect.10

36
Morten van Steenwinckel
King Christian IV (1577-1648) and the Prince Elect on horseback, c. 1634
canvas, oil paint 266 x 351 cm
Private collection

37
Karel van Mander (III) and Morten van Steenwinckel
Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark, ca. 1643
canvas, oil paint 315 x 315 cm
Eutin, Stiftung Schloss Eutin

38
Karel van Mander (III) and Morten van Steenwinckel
Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark, c. 1643
canvas, oil paint 310 x 280 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./cat.nr. A 2741


Notes

1 [Van Leeuwen 2015] A large painting by Knüpfer for the series, The Battle of Volmer, was consumed by flames in the fire at the Castle of Copenhagen in 1794 (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988, p. 60). The Utrecht archives have a contract dated 6 August 1639 in which Tilman undertakes to paint 10 pieces for the series within two years for 500 guilders each. He was to be paid after each (partial) delivery (De Kruijf 1891A, pp. 252-254). Two of these paintings, now in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, have recently been identified (Lange 2011, p. 106-113, figs. 4 and 6, see also below). For works by Adriaen van Nieulandt, Salomon Koninck, Claes Moeyaert and Isaac Isaacsz, see below and Sluijter 2015, 'A network of moderately successful Amsterdam natives. Claes Moyaert, Adriean van Nieulandt, Isaac Isaacsz and Salomon Koninck', pp. 149-213.

2 [Van Leeuwen 2015] De Kruijff 1891, pp. 251-252.

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Beckett 1916; [Van Leeuwen 2015] Judson/Ekkart 1999, pp. 128-132, nos. 138-145, pls. 62-69. The medaillons actually contain the monograms of 1. Christian IV, 2. his wife, Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, 3. his parents, Frederick II and Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and 4. His son, the Prince Elect Christian and his wife Magdalene Sybille of Saxony (Lassen et al. 1973, p. 201; Heiberg et al. 1988, nos. 225-232).

4 [Van Leeuwen 2015] The Kronborg paintings were divided between Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie (1622-1686), who certainly took nine paintings by Honthorst, and Carl Gustaf Wrangel(1613-1676), who carried off other works to Sweden (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988, p. 20). Most works are still in Sweden but three Honthorsts have returned to Kronborg (RKDimages 236448, 236444 and 236339). A fourth Honthorst (RKDimages 236374) was no longer in Kronborg in 1658 and therefore remained in Denmark.

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] De Kruijf 1891; Haverkorn van Rijsewijk 1892; many illustrations in Beckett 1937; Granberg 1911-1913 and Granberg 1929-1931, p. 54; Bredius 1915-1921, vol. I, pp. 264-265. – Cf. our comment below. Gudlaugsson incorrectly identified the subject of Moeyaert’s painting of 1643 (Gudlaugsson 1938, p. 62) as a scene taken from Hooft’s Bato, as was quickly refuted by Van de Waal (Van de Waal 1940, n. 107).[Van Leeuwen 2015] Paintings were not only looted by Carl Gustav Wrangel but also by Count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. In 1658 he stayed for a few months at Kronborg Castle together with King Charles X Gustav. De la Gardie and Carl Gustave Wrangel divided the war booty; De la Gardie took (at least) nine Honthorst paintings from Kronborg with him to Sweden (Schepelern/Houkjaer 1988, p. 20).

6 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Of the three works discussed by Gerson, only one is still given to Isaacsz. Gerson based himself on Beckett 1937 (pp. 129-131, ills. 108-109). Of the two other works, one is now attributed to Claes Moeyaert (RKDimages 236459) and another, tentatively, to Gerard van Kuijl (RKDimages 236452).

7 [Van Leeuwen 2015] It is assumed that only 20 to 30 paintings were executed (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988); obviously, if the king failed to pay for a partial delivery, nothing else was deliverd. Recently two paintings in the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, executed by Simon Peter Tilman, have been indentified as belonging to the series (Lange 2011, p. 106-113). Up to now, 14 paintings in Sweden and three (now) in Denmark have been identified.

8 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Juliette Roding attributes the horses of Karel van Mander’s equestrian portraits to Morten van Steenwinckel, see her contribution, § 4.5.2.

9 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Christian IV was not satisfied with the decorative paintngs by Van Steenwinckel and threatened the artist with imprisonment in the Blue Tower of the Copenhagen castle if he refused to introduce changes. (Heiberg 1984, p. 17 and n. 11). See also Roding 2014, p. 20.

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Beckett 1933-1934; [Van Leeuwen 2015] He was a son of Hans van Steenwinckel I, brother of Hans van Steenwinckel II and uncle of Antonie van Steenwinckel. See Johannsen 2013.

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