CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (1594-1652), de vader van de zoon

the father of the son [- Aelbert, of course] Exhibition: 9 June - 15 September 2002


Sander Paarlberg

Press release by the Dordrechts Museum.

From 9 June to 15 September 2002, the Dordrechts Museum will be holding the first retrospective exhibition ever of the work of the most influential painter in Dordrecht in the 17th century, Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (1594-1652) – Father of the Son.

This exhibition coincides with the exhibition The Golden Land of Aelbert Cuyp in the Rijksmuseum (which can be seen earlier in Washington and London). While Aelbert Cuyp is nowadays considered as one of the greatest landscape painters, in the 17th century it was his father who ranked among the most important painters in Dordrecht for many years. The exhibition will focus on Jacob Cuyp’s role as a pioneer who paved the way for his son Aelbert as well as the co-operation between father and son and Jacob Cuyp’s influence on painting in Dordrecht. The selection also features works which Jacob and Aelbert Cuyp produced together.

In combination with important works from the Dordrechts Museum, loans from public and private collections from cities such as St. Petersburg, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Budapest provide a representative overview of this versatile painter’s oeuvre for the first time. Although he achieved most renown for his portraits, and particularly those of children, he also painted history pieces, still lifes and genre pieces.

Like his son Aelbert, his success was due in part to his many clients in the thriving city of Dordrecht, which still bears witness to yesteryear with its splendid mansions and intimate inner harbours. Numerous activities are being organised in Dordrecht this summer that give an idea of the city in the 17th century and the artistic climate in which the Cuyp family lived and worked.

Much sought-after painter in Dordrecht

Jacob Cuyp was the most important portraitist in Dordrecht during the first half of the 17th century. In the catalogue of the successful exhibition Children at their Finest. Children’s Portraits in the Low Countries, 1500-1700 (Haarlem/Antwerp 2000-2001), Jacob Cuyp is described as a child portraitist due to the large number of child portraits in his oeuvre. ‘He is one of the most productive painters of this genre and was also particularly inventive as regards attribute”. Although these paintings can undeniably be considered to be among his most attractive, Jacob Cuyp did not just confine himself to painting children. The majority of his work consists of portraits of prosperous Dordrecht adults, which exude notable simplicity. As early as 1617, Jacob was commissioned to immortalise the masters of the mint in Dordrecht, an important work for the painter. Later, prominent members of important Dordrecht families such as Repelaer, Berck and Pompe van Slingelandt were also keen to have their portraits painted by him. The exhibition features portraits of Jacob Trip by father Cuyp and his son. Trip was also immortalised by Rembrandt on several occasions.

The portrait of Anthonis Repelaer in the Dordrechts Museum will be reunited with the companion portrait of his wife Emerantia from the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna after being separated for several centuries.

Jacob Cuyp, a versatile artist

Jacob Cuyp was an extremely versatile painter and drawer. In addition to portraits, he produced many history pieces, still lifes and genre pieces. He was a pupil of Abraham Bloemaert and some of his works were distinctly influenced by this Utrecht master and were produced in Caravaggian style, as was popular in Utrecht at the time. Jacob Cuyp would also have been familiar with the work of the Amsterdam painter Nicolaes Moeyaert.

However, his child portraits rank among his most attractive works. He often portrayed children in a landscape with sheep. The landscape in the background, the portraits of the children and the painted sheep and plants all lend his pieces an idyllic character. The elements may be set in scene but nevertheless form a natural entity. The artist’s versatility comes to life through the combination of portraits, landscapes and still lifes in these works.

All of the genres practised by Jacob Cuyp are being exhibited together for the first time and his drawings, prints and book illustrations will also be on display, demonstrating his excellence in drawing as well as in painting. With this extensive overview, the Dordrechts Museum is aiming to shed a refreshing new light on this less well-known painter and in doing so give him the recognition he deserves.

Together with Aelbert Cuyp

The exhibition features a number of paintings on which father and son worked together, including a rediscovered painting from Buenos Aires. Jacob was responsible for all of the portraits and Aelbert for the landscapes. There are also portraits by Jacob believed to have been completed by Aelbert Cuyp following the death of his father in 1652. An exceptional painting by David Vinckboons, in which Jacob Cuyp painted a portrait of a couple, forms an exceedingly interesting addition and is a unique example of a portrait added to a completed painting at a later stage. Both father and son produced portraits of Jacob Trip, both of which can be seen hanging next to each other during the exhibition.

Master of an entire generation of painters

Jacob Cuyp was a prominent member of the St. Luke’s Guild in Dordrecht. In 1642, he was one of the four leaders when the fine painters branched off from the guild. He was the first important painter in Dordrecht and can be seen as the nestor of the Dordrecht painters. His pupils included his half-brother Benjamin, his famous son Aelbert, Paulus Lesire and Ferdinand Bol. Work by painters working in Dordrecht such as Jan Olis and Pieter Verelst also appears to have been influenced by Cuyp. It is thought that a number of young Dordrecht painters such as Nicolaes Maes and Ferdindand Bol moved to Amsterdam to become pupils of Rembrandt on Jacob Cuyp’s recommendation.

The Cuyp family in Dordrecht

At the end of the 16th century, countless non-Catholics fled to Holland driven by Spanish troops, which is why glazier, stained-glass artist and painter Gerrit Gerritsz. Cuyp (c. 1565-1644), the father of Jacob, moved from Venlo to Dordrecht. He was the first important artist in the Cuyp family. His son Jacob and grandson Aelbert followed in his footsteps. Both Jacob and Aelbert occupied numerous public positions in Dordrecht. Many sites within the city are associated with the Cuyp family, including the Augustijnenkerk where both Jacob and Aelbert Cuyp are buried. Aelbert often produced paintings and drawings of his native city. Dordrecht’s city profile with the distinctive truncated tower of the Grote Kerk and the Groothoofdspoort has remained remarkably intact.

With the exhibition In the Footsteps of Cuyp, the Dordrecht Municipal Archives are focusing on the views of Dordrecht by Aelbert Cuyp and the places at which Aelbert made his sketches of the city and surrounding area. Together with the Tourist Information Office and Dordrecht Municipal Archives, the Dordrechts Museum has created a walk along the most important Cuyp-related locations in Dordrecht.

The Idyll Lives On

Although Aelbert Cuyp was little known outside Dordrecht during his lifetime, international recognition of his work became evident towards the end of the 18th century, resulting in virtually his entire oeuvre being exported abroad. England was the scene of true Cuyp mania and a multitude of artists produced copies of his work. These prints and drawings, often in a large format, provide an impressive overview of Aelbert Cuyp’s finest paintings. Aelbert Cuyp has never been forgotten in Dordrecht itself as evidenced by the work of artists such as Aert Schouman and the Van Strij brothers. Abraham and Jacob van Strij not only literally copied their 17th-century predecessor, but also drew inspiration from Cuyp when creating new compositions. A selection of these can be seen during the exhibition The Idyll Lives On, Aelbert Cuyp in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Victor Onstein: Aelbert Cuyp Revisited

The work of Aelbert Cuyp still enjoys great recognition today. Victor Onstein (Nieuwer-Amstel 1953) creates spatial objects inspired by the paintings of Aelbert Cuyp. He subtly translates areas of colour and lighting effects from Cuyp’s compositions into objects in which reflections of colour play an important role. Paintings by Aelbert Cuyp from the Dordrechts Museum collection and works by Onstein are brought together in the exhibition Victor Onstein: Aelbert Cuyp Revisited. Onstein’s interpretations provide a refreshing new perspective on Cuyp’s paintings through the emphasis on colour, space and light.

The Idyll Lives On, Aelbert Cuyp in the 18th and 19th Centuries
9 June – 15 September 2002
SIMON VAN GIJN – museum at home

Victor Onstein: Aelbert Cuyp Revisited
9 June – 15 September 2002
Dordrechts Museum

For further information or photographic material:
Ike de Haan, Marketing and P.R.
+31 (0)78 – 648 21 52
+31 (0)6 – 5356 70 85


Sander Paarlberg, Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (1594-1652), with contributions by Rudi Ekkart*, Wouter Kloek*, Fred Meijer, Egbert Haverkamp Begemann* and Alan Chong*, Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) 2002. 216 pages, 28 cm.

A number of essays will explain various aspects of the work of Jacob Gerritsz. Sander Paarlberg (Dordrechts Museum) focuses on the role of Jacob Cuyp as nestor of the Dordrecht painters and the influence of Caravaggism on his work, Rudi Ekkart (RKD) writes about Cuyp as a portraitist, Wouter Kloek (Rijksmuseum) explains the influence of Jacob on Aelbert Cuyp, Fred Meijer (RKD) concentrates on the still lifes, Egbert Haverkamp Begemann (New York University) deals with the drawings and prints and Alan Chong (Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, Boston) is responsible for writing an oeuvre catalogue of all the known works of Jacob Cuyp.