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De decoratieve schilderkunst van Mattheus Terwesten, een Haagse meester uit de achttiende eeuw

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

The painter Mattheus Terwesten, much esteemed in his own day, and highly praised by Van Gool, was born in 1670 in The Hague. He was taught by his older brother Augustinus, Willem Doudyns and Daniel Mytens. In 1695 he travelled by way of Berlin, where Augustinus was court painter, to Rome, where he became a member of the Bentyvueghels, who nicknamed him 'Arend' (eagle). Back in Berlin in 1698, he was commissioned by the Elector to design two ceilings for the palace in Charlottenburg. From 1699 on, apart from a brief sojourn in Berlin as court painter in 1710, he lived in The Hague. Many of his patrons were prominent members of the regent class. Terwesten continued to paint until a ripe old age; throughout his life he was an active member of the Pictura Confrerie and the Hague Academy. He died in 1757. The Rijksprcntenkabinet possesses a biography written by his son Pieter, based on the painter's own notes. The carliest known work is a Liberation of Andromeda in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Brunswick, dated 1697 Berlin', a combination of location and year that cannot be correct. The ceilings painted by Augustinus and Mattheus for Charlottenburg have been lost; since 1977 however, the palace again contains four large paintings by Mattheus with scenes from the story of Aeneas and Dido, one of them signed and dated 1702. Preparatory studies, as part of a series of twelve drawings, are in the Rijksprentenkabinct in Amsterdam. The paintings probably belong to the series of twelve pieces devoted to Aeneas which Mattheus, according to Pieter's manuscript, painted in 1702 for the house of Van der Straaten in the Hoogstraat, The Hague. Terwesten's most ambitious ceiling is the cupola of Fagel, a combination of painting and painted stucco, done in collaboration with the flower painter Gaspar Peeter Verbrugghen. Restoration of the old town hall of The Hague in 1974 revealed a ceiling painted by Terwesten in 1737. ln the Drents Provinciaal Museum in Assen is a Terwestcn ceiling, regarded as an anonymous work, which has been established as coming from 22, Hooglandse Kerkgracht in Leiden. Terwesten rarely received church commissions; an exception is an altarpiece, the Transfiguration, for the Old Catholic church in the Juffrouw Idastraat, The Hague. His later works, like Solomon's first judgment in the town hall of Monster, are characterized by a certain rigidity. This also applies to an Allegory on peace, catalogued as an anonymous painting, in the Mauritshuis in The Hague, which may be attributed to Terwesten. Mattheus Terwesten not only carried out commissions but painted for the open market as well. In view of the relatively large number of religious works listed in the catalogue of his estate, which was auctioned in 1757, there seems to have been a market for biblical scenes. His paintings of children or putti at play were very popular. Many of them have been erroneously attributed over the years: an Allegory on spring in the museum at Tarbes and an Allegory on spring in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich arc attributed to Augustinus Terwesten. Mattheus Terwesten collaborated with various flower painters, in keeping with a Flemish tradition to which he had been introduced by Gaspar Peeter Verbrugghen, who came from Antwerp. After Verbrugghen left The Haguc (in 1732), Terwesten worked with Pieter Hardimé and Coenraet Roepel, who later taught his son Pieter. Terwesten's decorative and later somewhat mechanical style catered to the taste of the wealthy citizens of his day. It is in this light that his works mcrit attention.


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