After Bartholomeus Van der Helst (1613-1670)
A Double Portrait
Oil on Canvas, 187 x 135cm / 207 x 155cm
A large, beautifully detailed portrait of a Dutch Gentleman and his wife, with stunning, rich colour and composition. A real statement piece that would give a true sense of history, quality and style to any home. A painting that one can easily fall in love with.
Bartholomeus Van der Helst was born in Haarlem and moved to Amsterdam around 1636. There is no documentation as to who he might have studied painting under, but at this time he would no doubt have been influenced by such contemporary artists as Frans Hals and Rembrandt.
His first dated picture, a group portrait of the regents of the Walloon Orphanage (currently the location of Maison Descartes in Amsterdam), dates from 1637. In 1639 he won his own schutterstuk commission, The company of Captain Roelof Bicker and Lieutenant Jan Michielsz Blaeuw. In Amsterdam he may well have trained with Nicolaes Eliaszoon Pickenoy.
Importantly as a contemporary of Rembrandts, van der Helst gained a reputation for his flattering portrayals in the style of van Dyck, being more appealing than Rembrandts somewhat darker and more introspective work to such an extent it wa known that a number of Rembrandt's pupil's adopted van der Helt's style.
His large group portrait, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster, was painted in 1648, and exhibited to popular acclaim. It was this painting that sealed his fame for future generations, according to Arnold Houbraken, and it was admired by Godfried Kneller and praised by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1781 as 'perhaps the first picture portraits in the world, comprehending more of the qualities which make a perfect portrait than any other I have ever seen'. A statement that shows van der Helst's importance as a portrait painter, this work being an exemplary show of the artist's skill and style.
Today van der Helst's most famous portrait is his half-length portrayal of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, the son of Andries Bicker, the mayor of Amsterdam, whom he also painted in 1642.