Gerson Digital : Denmark


3.7 Postscript

It becomes apparent that many painters from the Low Countries that were active at the Danish court, came either from a milieu of wealthy merchants, like Pieter Isaacsz, or from a family of well-known artists, like Karel van Mander III and Morten van Steenwinckel. The artists themselves often married daughters of wealthy merchants or women from other artistic families. After he had been widowed twice, Wuchters married for the third time in 1679, taking as his wife the widow of the only son of Karel van Mander III, Carel, and became the stepfather to the latter’s young daughter Anna Maria!

The artists from the Netherlands lived in the most expensive locations in Helsingør and Copenhagen and often owned several impressive houses. This applies particularly to Karel van Mander III with his house and courtyard at the present Strøget in Copenhagen (his wife also left premises at Christianshavn on her death), but also to Abraham Wuchters, who in his later life lived in a large house behind the Bourse. After Wuchters’ death, the Queen herself bought the property.1 Both Van Mander and Wuchters bought during their lifetime a burial place. Van Mander was buried in the Sankt Petri Church with honours: ‘Abends. In der Kirche. Die grossen Glocken. Die grossen Lichter’ (In the evening, in the church, the big bells, the big chandeliers).2

The artists who made their career in Denmark had often enjoyed a thorough education. We know this is true of Pieter Isaacsz, whose brother Johannes Isacius Pontanus was a professor in Harderwijk for many years and who became historiographer of the Danish king.3 Karel van Mander III had a command of many languages, as well as being both literary and musical. His library and collection were very extensive for a 17th-century artist. During his lifetime he developed his scientific interests, eventually becoming a pictor doctus, and associating with an international group of intellectuals and scholars.4 As we have seen, Antonie van Steenwinckel, too, left behind an extensive collection. Both Pieter Isaacsz and Karel van Mander III had close confidential relations with the King, holding high-level discussions with him and enjoying access to the royal castles and gardens. After his rehabilitation, Wuchters had ingratiated himself with Queen Sophie Amalie and had a position of confidence with the many important court officials.

What is also remarkable is that the relations with the Republic were well maintained. Pieter Isaacsz often travelled between Copenhagen and Amsterdam. As far as we know, Karel van Mander III did not make such journeys following his return from his study trip, but prominent visitors from the Republic came to him. The Amsterdam poet Jan Vos, who never travelled outside the Republic, wrote many eulogies to portraits by Karel van Mander III. Being and remaining ‘Dutch’ seems to have been an important quality criterion for these artists.5 The fact that Karel van Mander III, towards the end of his life, after having lived for some forty years in Denmark, still regarded himself – probably deliberately – as an immigrant, is apparent from a eulogy that he wrote in 1668 to a portrait of Frederick III, that he himself had painted, in which he describes himself with a play on words based on his name: ‘Wandersman’ (wandering man).6


1 Eller 1971, p. 400.

2 Eller 1971, p. 339 and note 76.

3 Skovgaard-Petersen 2002.

4 Van Mander owned the tract by Franciscus Junius.

5 A phenomenon that is also know from England, see Moore 1996.

6 Van Mander 1668, 'Op het Affbeeltsel van syn Coo: Hoogheyt. 1668' (s.p.).

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