Het Gulden Cabinet
Title page of the Gulden Cabinet
|Author||Cornelis de Bie|
|Publisher||Jan Meyssen (1662)|
Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const or The Golden Cabinet of the Noble Liberal Art of Painting is a book by the 17th-century Flemish notary and rederijker Cornelis de Bie published in Antwerp. Written in the Dutch language, it contains artist biographies and panegyrics with engraved portraits of 16th- and 17th-century artists, predominantly from the Southern Netherlands. The work is a very important source of information on the artists it describes. It formed the principal source of information for later art historians such as Arnold Houbraken and Jacob Campo Weyerman. It was published in 1662, although the work also mentions 1661 as date of publication.
Het Gulden Cabinet stands in a long tradition of artist biographies. This tradition goes back to Pliny and was revived during the Renaissance. In 1550, the Italian Giorgio Vasari published his Vite on the lives of famous artists. Karel van Mander was the first author to introduce this genre in the Dutch language with his Schilder-boeck of 1604. Cornelis de Bie explicitly placed himself in the tradition of van Mander and did what van Mander did for 15th and 16th Netherlandish artists for 17th-century artists.
In his Het Gulden Cabinet, de Bie presents himself as a rederijker whose duty it is to broadcast the fame of the artists. By doing so he followed an existing tradition already seen in Dominicus Lampsonius' 1572 Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae Inferioris effigies and the Antwerp painter and rederijker Alexander van Fornenbergh's 1658 Antwerpschen Proteus ofte Cyclopschen Apelles, which sang the praises of the painter Quinten Matsys.
The concept of Het Gulden Cabinet did not come from Cornelis de Bie himself, but from the Antwerp printer Jan Meyssen. In 1649 Meyssen had already published Image de divers hommes, which contained engraved portraits of famous men, including painters, in imitation of Anthony van Dyck's Iconography. Most of the artist portraits in Het Gulden Cabinet are taken from this Image de divers hommes and only a few new engravings were made especially for de Bie's work.
The full title of the work is Het gulden cabinet vande edel vry schilder const: inhoudende den lof vande vermarste schilders, architecten, beldthouwers ende plaetsnyders, van dese eeuw, which translates as The Golden Cabinet of the Noble Liberal Art of Painting: Containing the Praise of the Most Famous Painters, Architects, Sculptors and Engravers of This Century. Despite its title, the book also deals with artists from the 16th century.
The work was dedicated to the Antwerp art collector Antoon van Leyen who had provided some of the information for the book and may also have helped finance the publication. Other persons who had provided information on contemporary artists included de Bie’s own father, Erasmus Quellinus II, Luigi Primo and Hendrick ter Brugghen’s son Richard.
Structure and style
The book has three parts. The first deals with artists who had died before de Bie's time and relies heavily on van Mander's Schilder-boeck. The second part deals with artists living at the time of de Bie and is mostly based on original research by de Bie and on the comments added to the engravings borrowed from Meyssens' Image de divers hommes. The third part deals with artists who had been omitted in the first two parts and also includes engravers, sculptors, architects, and painters. A general treatise on the art of painting is woven into the entire work.
The book is mainly written in verse, some of them in Latin, and is as a result rather difficult to read today. There are also some prose sections. It is over 500 pages long and contains engravings of more than 50 painters derived mainly from Meyssen's earlier work.
While The Gulden Cabinet never gained the level of popularity of van Mander’s Schilder-boeck, it is an important source of information on Flemish artists of the 17th century. De Bie’s most important contribution was to provide a theoretical basis for his appreciation of (then) less valued painting genres such as still lifes, genre painting, portraits and landscapes. He unreservedly praised the artists who practised in these genres.
Het Gulden Cabinet is included in the Basic Library of the Digital Library for Dutch Literature, which contains 1000 works of Dutch-language literature from the Middle Ages to today, which are deemed by its compilers to be of particular importance to Dutch-language literature.
De Bie seems to have planned a second edition of the work, but this was never published. The hand-written manuscript of de Bie is still extant and is kept at the Royal Library of Belgium. The manuscript is dated 1672. In it de Bie mentioned his intention to have a second edition published. The reason why the second edition was never published is unclear. It may have been due to the fact that the publisher and promotor of the first edition Jan Meyssen had died in 1670 and de Bie had difficulty finding another publisher.
Like Vasari and Van Mander before him, de Bie's biographies are interspersed with amusing anecdotes. Although such literary motifs belong to a long rhetorical tradition, many of these stories were labelled "historically unreliable" by leading historians in the 19th century. Only recently have some of the stories been reinstated. Since the book was often the only surviving source of information on certain painters, these stories have often been repeated as hard facts about the lives of the painters described.
For instance, Cornelis de Bie postulates certain apprenticeships, which are now considered improbable because the pupil painted in a completely different genre than the teacher. De Bie's statement that Philips Wouwerman trained with Frans Hals was deemed implausible by later historians since Wouwerman painted landscapes with horses and Hals was principally a portrait painter. Some scholars still consider this apprenticeship as unlikely, but in view of Hals' large workshop it cannot be entirely excluded.
Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part I
The engraved portraits included as illustrations in Book I are below, followed by the artists listed in order of appearance in the text. The first illustration is of Antoon van Leyen, to whom the book is dedicated.
Anthoine van Leyen, page 9
Cornelis de Bie, page 17
Adam van Oort, page 37
Octavio van Veen, page 39
Abraham Bloemaert, page 45
Tobias Verhaecht, page 47
Adam Elsheimer, page 49
Guido Reni, page 52
Rubens, page 57
Frans Snyders, page 61
Willem van Nieulandt II, page 63
Anthony van Dyck, page 75
Gerard Segers, page 97
Adriaen van Utrecht, page 107
Adam Willaerts, page 111
Johann Wilhelm Baur, page 113
Nicolaes Knupfer, page 115
Jan van Bijlert, page 117
Jan van Balen, page 119
Roelant Savery, page 125
Henry van der Borcht the elder, page 127
Jacob Adriaensz Backer, page 129
Deodat del Monte, page 133
David Teniers I, page 141
Adriaen van Nieulandt, page 147
Alessandro Varotari, page 151
Peter Franchoys, page 153
Jan Both, page 157
David Beck, page 161
Gerard Honthorst, page 165
Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, page 167
Bonaventura Peeters, page 171
Frans Wouters, page 175
Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part II
The engraved portraits included as illustrations in Book II are below, followed by the artists listed in order of appearance in the text. Book II begins on page 181.
Daniel Seghers, page 213
Peter Snayers, page 221
Jacob van Es, page 227
Adrian de Bie, page 231
Adriaen van de Venne, page 235
Jacques Jordaens, page 239
Gaspard de Crayer, page 245
Balthasar Gerbier, page 249
Leonard Bramer, page 253
Cornelis van Poelenburch, page 257
Erasmus Quellinus II, page 261
Jan Cossiers, page 267
David Bailly, page 271
Herman Saftleven, page 275
Jan van Bronkhorst, page 279
Abraham van Diepenbeeck, page 285
Pieter Danckerts de Ry, page 289
Daniel van Heil, page 293
Cornelis Janssens, page 299
Jacques d'Arthois, page 301
Pieter van Lint, page 307
David Ryckaert, page 309
Nicolaes de Helt Stockade, page 313
Gonzalo Coques, page 317
David Teniers II, page 335
Robert van den Hoecke, page 341
Jan Baptist van Heil, page 343
Jan Philips van Thielen, page 345
Petrus Meert, page 351
Jan Peeters I, page 355
Petrus Boel, page 363
Jan van de Hecke, page 365
Hendrik van der Borcht II, page 383
Jan Meyssens, page 387
Jan van Kessel, page 411
Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part III
The engraved portraits included as illustrations in Book III are below, followed by the artists listed in order of appearance in the text. Book III begins on page 419.
Coornhert, page 455
Hendrick de Keyser, page 459
Jacob Franquart, page 479
Egidius Sadeler, page 483
Hendrick Hondius, page 487
Petrus de Jode senior, page 493
Paulus Pontius, page 497
Lucas Faydherbe, page 499
Artus Quellinus I, page 505
Petrus de Jode junior, page 511
Jacques Callot, page 523
Leo van Heil, page 527
Petrus Verbrugghen, page 531
Simon Bosboom, page 547
Wencelas Hollar, page 551
Artus Quellinus II, page 555
Steffano de la Belle, page 561
- The same title page was later re-used by S. Resta in his The True Effigies of the most Eminent Painters and other Famous Artists that have Flourished in Europe Curiously Engraven on 125 Copper Plates. London, 1694
- Christiaan Schuckman. "Bie, Cornelis de." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed July 22, 2014
- Toon Houdt, On the Edge of Truth and Honesty: Principles and Strategies of Fraud and Deceit in the Early Modern Period, BRILL, 1 Jan, 2002, p 153
- Het Gulden Cabinet on Flandrica.be (in Dutch)
- Cornelis de Bie in the Dictionary of Art Historians
- Website of the Basic Library of the dbnl, the section on the Golden Age (in Dutch)
- Digital version of the work on Google Books
- Digital version of the work on Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience
- G. Lemmens, "Introduction", in: Cornelis de Bie, Het Gulden Cabinet, Soest, 1971, p. 1-15 (reprint).
- Ch. Schuckman, "Did Hendrick ter Brugghen revisit Italy? Notes from an unknown manuscript by Cornelis de Bie." in: Hoogsteder-Naumann Mercury, 4 (1986), 7-22.
- P. Calu, "Tot verheffinghe der vermaerste Gheesten ende Lief-hebbers der Schildry. Literaire aspecten van Het Gulden Cabinet (1662) van Cornelis de Bie." in: "Spiegel der Letteren", 53 (1), 29-59.
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