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Bartholomeus van der

Netherlands • 1613−1670

Biography and information

Bartholomeus van der Helst (Bartholomeus van der Helst, niderl. Bartholomeus van der Helst; approx. 1613, Haarlem — December 16, 1670, Amsterdam) was a Dutch painter and printmaker, known as a portraitist.

Helst, the son of a innkeeper, was born in Haarlem. In connection with the marriage and moved in 1636 in Amsterdam, lived there all my life and never left Holland. May studied painting in Haarlem, but it is unknown who taught him his first lessons (biographical data about Gelsta generally very little). It is believed that in Amsterdam Helst learned from major artist of the early XVII century, Nicholas Elias Piceno. It is not known whether he studied with Rembrandt, who lived in Amsterdam at one time with him, but Helist learned some of the techniques of the portrait style of Rembrandt and Hals.


1637 dated the first known picture Gelsta — portrait of four members of the Board of Trustees of the Walloon orphanage. The picture is stylistically close to the works of Elias. To Helstu quickly gained fame, he had important orders. Its main clients were representatives of city hall, the main subjects of the festival shooters, the awarding of prizes, the figures of the Directors and Trustees of charitable institutions, of the Syndic of the municipal corporations. In 1642, the artist painted a portrait of mayor Andres beaker with his wife and son.

Six years later, created a masterpiece Gelsta — a huge group portrait "Celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Munster". In this painting, the talent of the author is evident in the creation of a harmonious multi-figure compositions, all depicted characters are individual and easily recognizable. This painting is in Amsterdam where the famous "Night watch" by Rembrandt, so that visitors can conduct directly to the comparison between the two artists in their works. For a long time this painting was considered to be "the Night watch". Joshua Reynolds visited Amsterdam in 1781, comparing this picture with all he had seen earlier portraits, and found in it the highest embodiment of all those qualities that should be inherent in the ideal picture. It is worth noting that although Gelsta fame rests primarily on portraits, he has created a picture of the historical, biblical and mythological subjects.

At the time of resettlement Gelsta in Amsterdam Rembrandt was in the ascendant. However, the growing popularity conquered the elegant style of van Dyck, and one of the representatives of this style, wanting to please the public taste, became Helst. During the 1640s, the artist became a leading portrait painter of Amsterdam and even eclipsed by Rembrandt. Elaborated in detail, and delicate portraits Gelsta, which also slightly embellish the model, liked the public more than the later work of Rembrandt, becoming more and more serious, is marked by a deep introspection. While Gelist was among those artists who were able to cater to the requirements of senior clients, while remaining in positions of realist art. His painting technique was refined and virtuosic: he was able to perfectly reproduce the accuracy of the material things, the ease of pose and gesture of the model.


In 1654 Helst became one of the founders of the Guild of St Luke. Surrounded by respect and not needing the artist to the end of his life he lived in Amsterdam and was engaged in the education of his son, Lodewijk van der Gelsta, which, however, was pretty mediocre painter. Among his other disciples was also not such that would deserve the attention of posterity.


During the life of the impact Elista (or rather his style) on other artists was significant. A student of Rembrandt, Ferdinand as Pain and Govert Flink, for the sake of this fashionable at that time style of painting moved away from the style of his mentor. Gelsta greatness as a painter was recognized and the next century. Still he occupies in Dutch high school; from the precision of the portraits and a good selection of color it is put directly after van Dyck. But overall the artist has always lacked depth and significance in the transmission of the human image. It didn't allow his works to become close with portraits by Rembrandt and Hals, while most of his contemporaries believed that Gelst surpasses them both. To Elista famous works include "portrait of the preacher", "Family Ramaker", "crossbowman", "portrait of a young Princess and her nurse, Portrait of Paulus Potter", "portrait of the artist Flink", "Presentation of the bride parents of the bridegroom", "the New market in Amsterdam" (latest film content unusual for the artist, as it plays a major role edibles).