David Vinckboons (Dutch, Mechelen 1576 - before 12 January 1633 Amsterdam)
Landscape with the Baptism of the Eunuch, ca. 1599-1600
Pen and brown ink with blue and grey wash, heightened with white
10 3/4 x 7 3/8 in. (27.3 x 18.7 cm)
Signed in black ink, lower left (in ligature): DVB
Friends of Art Fund, 1950
David Vinckboons was a master of dense woodland views during the early years of the seventeenth century. In his drawings, he frequently used colored washes to enhance the effect of light filtering through a leafy canopy.
Most of the approximately eighty-four known drawings by David Vinckboons were produced before 1610.1 The Landscape with the Baptism of the Eunuch in Oberlin is among Vinckboons's earliest drawings, and probably predates the earliest dated sheet by the artist, the Lovers in the Forest of 1600.2 The spontaneous quality of the pen lines, coupled with the delicate application of colored washes, produces an unaffected and very personal interpretation of nature that is typical of early drawings by the artist. Vinckboons frequently used white bodycolor and brown, grey, or blue washes to recreate the flickering effects of light and shadow created by the sun filtering sporadically through a forest canopy.
Like many of Vinckboons's early works, the Oberlin drawing is heavily influenced by the landscapes of Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607). Although Coninxloo was not the first artist to compose views of dense forest interiors (his predecessors included Pieter Bruegel and Jan Brueghel the Elder), his shadowy copses, inhabited by isolated figures dwarfed by the massive trees, were the immediate inspiration for Vinckboons's woodland views.3 In this and other early landscapes by Vinckboons--both drawn and painted--the diminutive figures are almost subsumed by the foliage; after about 1605, figures assume a greater importance in relation to the setting.
The composition depicts the encounter between the Apostle Philip, en route to Gaza, and a high-ranking eunuch in the service of the Ethiopian queen Candace, traveling with his entourage. Philip explained a difficult passage in the Book of Isaiah to the eunuch in Christological terms, demonstrating that Jesus was the son of God prophesied in the scripture. The eunuch was so thoroughly convinced that he converted to Christianity and was baptised by Philip in a nearby stream (Acts 8:26-38).
In composing his scene, Vinckboons may have been familiar with a print of the subject engraved by Philips Galle after Maarten van Heemskerck, published in 1575.4 Particularly similar in the two works (albeit reversed in Galle's print) is the steeply foreshortened view of the eunuch's canopied chariot, drawn by two restive horses, parked in the distance. Vinckboons also made a painting of the Baptism of the Eunuch, formerly in the collection Semenov-Tianshansky, St. Petersburg, which has been dated by Goossens to about 1603.5 There, the wooded setting has been expanded to a horizontal format and the Ethiopian's entourage greatly increased, but the figures of Philip and the eunuch, as well as the horse-drawn chariot, are quite similar to those in the Oberlin drawing, in reverse.6
M. E. Wieseman
David Vinckboons was born in the Flemish city of Mechelen on 13 August 1576. His father Philip (1545-1601) was also a painter, and David received his first training from him. Following the fall of Antwerp to Spanish forces in 1586, and the ensuing persecution of Protestants throughout the Southern Netherlands, the Vinckboons family emigrated to the Northern Netherlands, and settled in Amsterdam in 1591. David Vinckboons married Agnieta van Loon in 1602; the couple had ten children, several of whom became mapmakers, painters, or architects. The exact place and date of Vinckboons's death are not known, but his wife is referred to as a widow in a document of 12 January 1633.
Vinckboons painted primarily landscapes and genre scenes, the latter often in outdoor settings. These densely forested views reflect his contact with the Flemish-born landscape painter Gillis van Coninxloo (1544-1607). Vinckboons was also active as a draftsman and designer of prints. Among his pupils and followers were Gillis d'Hondecoeter (ca. 1575/80-1638) and (probably) Esaias van de Velde.
Goossens, Korneel. David Vinckboons. Antwerp and The Hague, 1954; 2d ed., Soest, 1977.
Wegner, Wolfgang, and Herbert Pée. "Die Zeichnungen des David Vinckboons." Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 31 (1980), pp. 35-128.
Sale Madame X, Paris (Drouot), 23 May 1928, lot 152, ill.
Collection Maurice Delacre (d. 1938), Ghent
His sale, Berne (Gutekunst and Klipstein), 21/22 June 1949, lot 474
With Vitale Bloch, The Hague, from whom purchased in 1950
New York, M. Knoedler & Company, Inc., 1954. Paintings and Drawings from Five Centuries: Collection Allen Memorial Art Museum. 3 - 21 February. Cat. no. 36.
Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1956. Drawings and Watercolors from the Oberlin Collection. 11 March - 1 April. No cat.
Malmö, Sweden, Radhüs, 1956. Masterworks from American University Museums. (sponsored by the College Art Association). 30 June - 15 July (also shown at Utrecht, Centraal Museum; Birmingham; London, University of London, Senate House; Durham, University of Durham; Kings College; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Liège, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, as no. 39; Marburg, University Museum; Tübingen, Tübingen University Museum; and Besançon). Cat. no. 47.
Kenwood, London County Council, 1962. An American University Collection: Works of Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio. 3 May - 30 October. Cat. no. 55.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1966. Treasures from the Allen Memorial Art Museum. 21 July - 11 September. No cat.
Goossens, Korneel. David Vinckboons. Antwerp and The Hague, 1954; 2d ed., Soest, 1977, p. 26.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in the Allen Art Museum." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 26, no. 1 (Fall 1968), pp. 11ff., fig. 1.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "Varieties of Landscape." Apollo Magazine 103, no. 168 (February 1976), p. 114, fig. 4.
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of Drawings and Watercolors in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1976, p. 73, fig. 146, and cover.
Wegner, Wolfgang and Herbert Pée. "Die Zeichnungen des David Vinckboons." Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 31 (1980), pp. 38, 48, 49-50, 52, cat. no. 2.
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 210.
The primary support has been mounted on a thin sheet of laid paper, and is bordered on all sides by ruled lines drawn in brown ink. The backing sheet has the watermark of a Posthorn over the letter "B," a variant of Churchill 330 (eighteenth century).7 The pen lines in brown ink are iron gall or possibly bister; the extensive brushwork is executed primarily in blue (probably indigo) with admixtures of white lead and carbon black to achieve a range of tonal values. There is foxing present on the verso of the primary support and on the backing sheet, but the drawing is otherwise in excellent condition.
1. Wolfgang Wegner and Herbert Pée, "Die Zeichnungen des David Vinckboons," Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 31 (1980), pp. 35-128; and William W. Robinson, in The Age of Bruegel (exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1986-87), p. 299.
2. Pen and brown ink with brown, grey, and blue washes, monogrammed and dated 1600, 22.7 x 18.0 cm, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, inv. M620. Wolfgang Wegner and Herbert Pée ("Die Zeichnungen des David Vinckboons," Münchener Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 31 , pp. 52, 54) point out that the Paris sheet is dated 1600, not 1602, as Wolfgang Stechow ("Varieties of Landscape," Apollo Magazine 103, no. 168 [February 1976], p. 73) and others have stated.
3. The earliest dated forest landscape painting by Coninxloo is the Forest Landscape with Resting Hunter, signed and dated 1598; Vaduz, Prince of Liechtenstein Collection, inv. 751. On the development of the forest landscape, see the several publications by Heinrich-Gerhard Franz, culminating in his Niederländische Landschaftsmalerei im Zeitalter des Manierismus, 2 vols. (Graz, 1969); Teréz Gerszi, "Bruegel's Nachwirkung auf die niederländischen Landschaftsmaler um 1600," Oud Holland 90 (1976), pp. 201-29; and Hans Devisscher, "Die Entstehung der Waldlandschaft in den Niederlanden," in Von Brueghel bis Rubens (exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 1992), pp. 191-202.
4. 21.3 x 27.6 cm, no. 12 in a series of prints illustrating the Acts of the Apostles. See Ilja M. Veldman, Maarten van Heemskerck (The New Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450-1700, ed. Ger Luijten, vol. 7 [Roosendaal, 1994]), part 2, p. 100 (H 406).
5.Oil on panel, 98 x 135 cm; reproduced in Korneel Goossens, David Vinckboons (Antwerp and The Hague, 1954; 2d ed., Soest, 1977), pp. 24, 139, fig. 9.
6. A painting of The Baptism of the Eunuch in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg (oil on panel, 25 x 33 cm, inv. 194), attributed to Vinckboons, is closer to Adriaen van de Venne or, as suggested by Korneel Goossens (David Vinckboons [Antwerp and The Hague, 1954; 2d ed., Soest, 1977], p. 145), to Matheus Molanus.
7. Wolfgang Stechow, "Varieties of Landscape," Apollo Magazine 103, no. 168 (February 1976), p. 73; W. A. Churchill, Watermarks in Paper in Holland, England, France, etc., in the XVII and XVIII Centuries and their Interconnection (Amsterdam, 1935), no. 330.