CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Pieter Isaacsz: hofmaler og spion

Pieter Isaacsz: court painter and spy Exhibition: 18 August - 18 November 2007


Steffen Heiberg, Badeloch Noldus and Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen

From the museum website

The Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle will now run the first exhibition ever on the man behind one of the most famous portraits in the museum’s collection: the portrait of King Christian IV of c. 1614. The portrait shows the self-confident young king at the apogee of his life. Brilliantly painted, the picture has kept its radiance throughout the centuries. The artist’s name is Pieter Isaacsz (1568-1625), who was counted amongst the foremost painters of his time.

Pieter Isaacsz, Portrait of King Christian IV, 1614. Frederiksborg Castle

Pieter Isaacsz, King Christian IV, c. 1614.

The son of Dutch immigrants, he was born in Elsinore where he spent his childhood years. As a young man, Pieter moved to Amsterdam to become a painter. In the company of other artists, he then went on to wander Europe for several years. Later in life, Pieter returned to Denmark to become the court painter of the king’s choice – and a spy in Swedish service. His stormy life ended where it had begun; in 1625, he was slain by the plague, in Elsinore.

Pieter Isaacsz, detail of Family portrait, 1609.
Jacob was only six years old when his portrait was painted by his uncle Pieter Isaacsz. His uncle made the painting when he visited Elsinore, where Jacob lived together with his family.

At the exhibition, a wide selection of Pieter Isaacsz’s work will be on display, including a seventeen feet wide group portrait, several mythological drawings and allegorical pictures as work by his masters and pupils, amongst them the famous Hendrick Avercamp. The art works stem from the Frederiksborg Castle Collection as from other collections, including Musée du Louvre, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Kunstmuseum Basel, mapping Pieter Isaacsz as the artist of many merits he was, while at the same time giving a unique insight into Northern European relations in art around 1600.


Pieter Isaacsz (1568-1625): court painter, art dealer and spy

Edited by Badeloch Noldus and Juliette Roding
Book accompanying exhibition held in 2007 in Frederiksborg (Museum of National History)
Turnhout (Brepols) 2007


Acknowledgements 5


Court culture during the reign of Christian IV
Sebastian Olden Jørgensen

Pieter Isaacsz, pupil of the “artistic, sensible Mr Cornelis Ketel”
To Schulting

Pieter Isaacsz in the company of Hans von Aachen
Heiner Borggrefe

Pieter Isaacsz and art on paper: drawings and prints after his designs
Ilja Veldman

The birth of an artists’ quarter: Pieter Isaacsz’s Amsterdam years
S.A.C. Dudok van Heel

Pieters Isaacsz’s group portrait civic guardsmen of the Company of Captain Jacob Gerritsz Hoyngh and Lieutenant Appelman
Norbert Middelkoop

An allegory of mystery: Pieter Isaacsz and Rudolfine aesthetics
Sally Metzler

A matter of style: characterizing Pieter Isaacsz as a painter
Eric Domela Nieuwenhuis

The Isaacsz family: constant travellers between Holland and Denmark
Juliette Roding

Maiestatis regiae pictor – Pieter Isaacsz, portrait painter by appointment to His Majesty
Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen

Pieter Isaacsz’s other life: legal and illegal
Badeloch Noldus

Christian IV’s private oratory in Frederiksborg Castle Chapel: reconstruction and interpretation
Hugo Johannsen

The seven ages of man: the decorative scheme for the Great Hall at Rosenborg Castle
Juliette Roding

Isaac Isaacsz
Hannemarie Ragn Jensen

Adriaen van Nieulandt: Pieter Isaacsz’s versatile pupil
Michiel Roding

Art and the staging of images of power – Christian IV and pictorial art
Steffen Heiberg

Parentela of the family of Pieter Isaacsz
S.A.C. Dudok van Heel

Catalogue raisonné



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