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Cornelis Ketel en zijn familie: een revisie

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

In 1964 this journal published an article by J. Schouten with a family tree of the Ketel family of Gouda; most of the archive records consulted by the author for that purpose were already public. His principal theme, however, was the hypothesis of a third painter in the family by the name of Cornelis Ketel. The first Cornelis, who died in 1567, was the now forgotten uncle and teacher of the second, the well-known painter Cornelis Ketel who died in Amsterdam in 1616; the third Cornelis was the first one's son and thus a cousin of the second. Fresh archive research has yielded a corrected and more extensive family trcc of the Ketel family (fig. 1). Another result of this investigation is the untenability of Schouten's hypothesis: a third Cornelis did exist, but died at an early age before 1582, and there are no indications that he was an artist. Consequently, all Gouda archive records post-dating 1582 or thereabouts refer to the Cornclis Ketel who lived in Amsterdam at that time. Although he did live in Gouda for a few years after 1590/91, it was not in a 'Gasthuis' (almshouse), a misunderstanding caused by an incorrcctly transcribed archive record (fig. 6). A number of paintings which an 'old' tradition - much younger, incidentally, than Schouten would have us believe - ascribes to the second Ketel, and which because of their inferior quality arc attributed by Schouten to the third Cornelis, can therefore not be the work of the latter (figs. 7, 8, 9). Nor are they by the well-known Ketel. The addition of 'de Jonge' (the Younger) to the Amsterdam Ketel's name occurs sporadically in a few Gouda records. This suffix was not meant, as Schouten presumed, to distinguish him from his cousin, who in any case was younger than the Amsterdam Ketel, but to distinguish him as a painter from his elder uncle and teacher. Until work by this teacher is discovered, there is no point in dubbing the pupil 'the Younger'. Ketel did not suffer from gout; his brushless painting is a facet of his artistic versatility. As a matter of fact he did paint a number of works with the brush after 1600. A brother of the third Cornelis, the engineer Jacob whom Van Mander mentions in his biography of Ketel, is apparently identical with the painter Jacques Que(s)tel who lived successively in Orleans, Milan and Paris (fig. 2). He probably did not take up painting until after 1602. In 1608 he made decorations for Queen Maria de Medici's ceremonial entrance into Chartres. No work by him has come to light thus far, but a number of engravings after a portrait he painted in 1609 have survived (figs. 3 and 4). Appendix i traces how a legacy of another uncle of Ketel was distributed and passed on to his descendants. Appendix 2 lists a number of archive records pertaining to Jacob Ketel/Jacques Questel.


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