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Liesborn in Amsterdam. Jacob de Wits Porträt des Liesborner Abtes Gregor Waltmann von 1716

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

In 1971 the Museum Abtei Lieborn of the Warendorf area came into possession of a remarkable and qualitative Portrait of Gregor Waltmann (1661-1739), who had been the abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Liesborn between 1698 and 1739. During its restoration, the portrait could be identified as a signed work of the Amsterdam painter Jacob de Wit (1695-1754), dated 1716. To this day the only known portrait of De Wit was the Portrait of Pater Aegidius de Glabbais of 1718 (collection Commissie Monumentenzorg Minderbroeders Franciscanen Nederland).

This article reconstructs the provenance of the Portrait of Gregor Waltmann, which was most likely assigned to Jacob de Wit by Gregor's brother Jan Woltman in Amsterdam. Most likely the abbot himself never saw his portrait; there is no account of a journey to Amsterdam in 1716, nor is there evidence that Gregor Waltmann knew the catholic painter personally. De Wit returned to Amsterdam from Antwerp in 1715 and devoted himself with success to portrait painting and was initially supported by the catholic community.

In the early nineteenth century the portrait was still owned by the Woltman family, who had emigrated to Amsterdam from Lüdinghausen, Westfalen in the 1690s and who over generations had run the soap factory De Vergulde Hand. While the name of the painter over the course of time became forgotten, the catholic family kept the memory of the in 1739 deceased abbot alive with a memorial note.

Hardly known outside the county of Münster the signed and dated portrait is an important prerequisite for the determination of further, possibly still preserved portraits of Jacob de Wit.


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