Scanned, proofed and corrected from the original edition for your reading pleasure. (Worth every penny!)
The Landscape and Genre Painters
The Forerunners of the Hague School
The Masters of the Cabinet Picture
The Hague School: Introduction
The Hague School: Sequel
The Younger Masters of the Hague School
The Reaction of the Younger Painters of Amsterdam
The New Formula
An excerpt from the beginning of the:
The seventeenth century bequeathed to the eighteenth three painters all of whom and two in particular heralded the spirit of the new age in matters of conception, colour and execution. The greatest of the three, Jacob de Wit, who was called the Rubens of his time, is esteemed as an historical painter he executed a part of the Orange Room at the House in the Wood and is world-famous for his painted bas-reliefs, the so-called witjes, in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and elsewhere. These not only excel as extraordinary imitations of marble, to which De Wit owes his popularity, but the natural attitudes and grouping of the cherubs prove him to be, without a doubt, the greatest Dutch decorative artist of the eighteenth century. The second was Jan M. Quinckhard, who, as Van der Willigen says, "was a very good, yes, we venture to say, in many respects an excellent portrait-painter; he was particularly fortunate in his likenesses, his drawing was accurate, his brushwork good and his colouring soft and delicate." He, like De Wit, belongs entirely to the eighteenth century in ideas and his work did little to contribute towards the transition of the painted portrait from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. The same may be said of the third painter, Cornelis Troost, who, in spite of certain drawings that remind us of the seventeenth century and, in particular, of the somewhat artificial elegance of Nicolaas Maes, was essentially a man of his time. All his work in various mediums is too strongly imbued with the eighteenth-century spirit to permit us to regard him as a result or consequence of the previous century. Not that he can have troubled much about the matter, for abundant fame was his portion, so much so that he was known, in his day, as the Dutch Hogarth, a comparison which, like most of its kind, contained but a minimum of truth.
If, nevertheless, we insist upon considering these three painters as offshoots of our great century, then we must needs add that they were the last effort of an exhausted soil. The art of painting declined into the art of decoration or scene-painting, the painter's workshop was transformed into the tapestry-factory. The minute, concentrated charm of our so-called little masters expanded itself into painted hangings; the stately portraits of the time degenerated, with few exceptions, into the pale, powdered pastels that seemed deliberately designed for the representation of the caricatural periwig.
Still, if only for the reason that the eighteenth century contains the predecessors or, at any rate, the teachers of the painters of the nineteenth century, it is well worth while to consider these decoration-painters from another point of view than that of the applied art which owed its prosperity to the luxury of the merchant-princes of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Dordrecht and Middelburg. For not only had the best of these decoration-painters learnt their art as real painters and merely altered the character of their productions in obedience to the whims of the day: most of them did paint or draw landscapes or portraits and prove that they had it in their power to satisfy a demand for real painting, should it ever arise. For instance, in the Fodor Museum in Amsterdam, certain drawings by the tapestry-painter and manufacturer, Jacob Cats, display a strength, an old-Dutch quality, an originality which we should hardly have expected to find in those days. This Jacob Cats was born in 1741 at Altona and came with his parents, at an early age, to Amsterdam, where he achieved considerable success with both his hangings and drawings; and, although the tapestries are no longer easy to find, his drawings go to show that he lacked the affectation, if not the prolixity, that clung to many of those painters, especially towards the end of the century. They are very pleasantly executed, were greatly esteemed in their day and still fetch good prices under the hammer. Cats died 1799.
Another tapestry-painter of note is Hendrik Meijer, born in Amsterdam in 1737, who also drew landscapes in body-colour, sap-colour and Indian ink.
His Scheveningen Beach, a picture that formed part of the Des Tombe collection at the Hague, is said to have been his master-piece and to be preferable in many respects to a sea-piece by Schotel....