Gerrit van

Netherlands • 1590−1656

Biography and information

In 1610-ies studied and worked in Rome, influenced by Caravaggio, as well as in London, where he gave lessons to the daughters of Charles I. Among the Roman disciples was Honthorst, Matthias Stom. In 1622 Honthorst was accepted into the painters ' Guild of his native city. In 1630 he began to work as a portraitist, and in 1637 moved to the Hague. In 1641 was appointed court painter to William, Prince of orange. In 1649 he participated in the decoration of the Royal Palace in the Hague (the so-called "Wooden house", niderl. Huis ten Bosch). In 1652 he returned to Utrecht, where he died.

He studied in Utrecht at Abraham Blumart; 1610 or 1612 he was working in Rome where he was influenced by Caravaggio. Thanks to powerful patrons, cardinal Scipione Borghese, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Honthorst received large orders for churches of Rome. On his return to Utrecht (1620), he joined the Guild of painters (1525) and became widely known; he wrote religious and genre paintings and has 25 students. In 1628 Honthorst visited London, where he worked at the court of Charles 1 and has executed numerous portraits, and a picture "mercury representing free

arts to Apollo and Diana" (London, the Palace

HAMPTON Court). In 1635 he creates large historical compositions for the Danish king Christian IV. In 1637 Honthorst comes into the Guild of painters in the Hague and becomes an associate artist of the Prince of orange. He wrote mythological paintings for palaces Rijswijk and Honselaarsdijk, as well as portraits. It is often many orders performed by pupils or assistants of the artist.

Along with Terbryuggena and Baburina, Honthorst is one of the main representatives of the Utrecht caravaggism. In Italy he earned the nickname "Gherardo delle Knotty" for his love to light contrasts created by the flame of a candle (the"Christ before Caiaphas", the picture painted by order of Vincenzo Giustiniani, CA. 1617, London, NAT. Gal.; "The execution of John the Baptist", 1618, Rome, C. Santamaria della Scala), which are derived from the dramatic camera angles and realistic expression of Caravaggio. These light contrasts, simplifying plans and weight, reminiscent of paintings by French contemporary artist. Georges de La tour ("Joseph and the infant Christ", Montecompatri, the monastery of San Silvestro; "the denial of Peter", Rennes, musée des Beaux-arts). However, in his works, executed on his return to Utrecht, Honthorst follows: at first, light style of Caravaggio. In addition, he uses techniques of the brothers Carracci, mitigating caravaggesque chiaroscuro (the adoration of the shepherds, 1620, Florence, Uffizi). In such genre scenes as "Funny" (1620, Florence, Uffizi), Concert (1624, Paris, Louvre), "Composite" (1625, Utrecht, Central Museum) or "the dentist" (1627, Paris, Louvre), one of the figures depicted to the waist, located in the foreground and creates a spatial effect; due to the ironic interpretation, these scenes are very different from caravaggisti compositions. Large decorative work, executed by Honthorst at the end of life, suggested by the lessons the brothers Carrace; but he did not escape the conventions ("the Allegory of the king and Queen of Bohemia", 1636, Herrenhausen; "the Marriage of Frederick Hendrik and Amalia van Solms", 1650, the Hague, Huis ten Bosch-Bosch orange room). These works, as well as portraits, often executed by his assistants, make up a small part of his work.