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Keulen als toevluchtsoord voor Nederlandse kunstenaars (1567-1612)

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

In the latter half of the 16th century a conspicuously large number of Netherlandisch artists emigrated to Cologne. The majority came from the south Netherlands after 1567, forced to leave for political and religious reasons during Alva's reign of terror. Worsening economical conditions were another reason. Cologne offered good prospects for immigrants. Most of the Dutch artists who settled there were engravers, designers and publishers of prints, professions which were much in demand. Skilled native artists were rare in Cologne, and the wealthy, art-loving patricians and prosperous burghers were eager customers. From a different point of view, though, Cologne was not the ideal place for refugees. The city was a bastion of Catholicism, and the Netherlandish emigrants were only tolerated on condition that they showed no signs of their Protestant faith. Protestants were regularly arrested and expelled. Only Lutherans were treated with a modicum of lenience; although they, too, were forbidden to practise their religion, they were eligible for citizenship. After the fall of Antwerp in 1585, when a fresh stream of emigrants descended on Cologne, things became even more difficult for non-Catholics, many of whom were forced to leave the city around 1600. Adriaan de Weert (d. ca. 1590) went to Cologne in about 1567. Despite being a Lutheran (in 1579 he was arrested during a sermon), he joined the Cologne guild of painters and was granted citizenship in 1577. De Weert's work is best known from prints after his designs engraved by his close friend Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert (fig. 2). Coornhert, who had fled from Haarlem to the Rhineland in 1568, also invented subjects for the two friends' prints, and moreover inspired a few moral-philosophical prints after De Weert which were probably engraved by Hendrick Goltzius (figs. 3 and 4). Their prints reflect a personal, unorthodox and anti-clerical view of religion (fig. 2), and are unlikely to have been published in Catholic Cologne. Isaac Duchemin, who like De Weert came from Brussels, made prints of De Weert's more conventional designs (figs. 1 and 6). A later Duchemin print after his own design (1612; fig. 15) shows a horde of ignorant donkeys practising the arts, lampooning the situation of the arts and sciences in Cologne in a period when the last dissident artists and scientists had died or been expelled and the heyday of culture was over. Frans Hogenberg, who was banished by Alva in 1568 and sought admission to Cologne in 1570, was another active Lutheran. During the aforementioned gathering in 1579 he, too, was arrested, but let off with a fine. Hogenberg may originally have had Calvinist sympathies; a print made while he was still in Antwerp (fig. 7) depicts Predestination. He joined the Cologne painters' guild, and was a highly productive engraver and publisher until his death in 1590. Notably his town views and history prints of contemporary war activities and other political events (figs. 8 and 9) were held in high esteem. Crispijn dc Passe the Elder opted for his baptist faith after the fall of Antwerp (1585) and was compelled to leave the city. After a brief sojourn in Aachen in 1589 he moved that same year to Cologne, where he published and engraved a large number of prints. Some were his own designs (fig. i 3), but more often those of Maartcn de Vos, his wife's uncle (figs. 11-12). Despite his friendship with such well-known Protestants as Carel Utenhoven and Matthias Quad, De Passe seems to have been careful to keep out of trouble. His prints catered to the taste of a conservative, Catholic elite, and he endeavoured to gain the favour of prominent citizens of Cologne by dedicating prints to them (fig. 14). However, the city grew increasingly intolerant of the Protestant immigrants. During a campaign to flush them out, especially the baptists, De Passe was registered in 1610 and along with all the other baptists had to leave the city in 1611. He settled in Utrecht, where his prints were published from 1612 on. Catholic Dutch artists also emigrated to Cologne. The public's hostile attitude towards Willem van Tetrode's work (his recently completed high altar in Delft was destroyed in the iconoclasm of 1573) induced the sculptor to seek commissions from Cologne patricians a successful venture, as it turned out. The Catholic painter Geldorp Gortzius of Louvain became Cologne's favourite portraitist (fig. 10). He lived there from 1579 until his death in 1619), holding an administrative post and living in financial circumstances which he would never have enjoyed in the south Netherlands, where there was fierce competition among the many painters.


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