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Een onbekende tekening van Saenredam: het portret van Johannes Petri Junius

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

In 1910 the print room at Dresden acquired an unsigned portrait drawing of the clergyman Johannes Junius (c.1587-1635). The drawing has been successively attributed to Hendrick Goltzius and Jacob Matham and is currently regarded as the work of Matthias van den Bergh (1617-1665). In this article it is proposed to attribute the drawing to Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665). Junius' portrait was drafted in black chalk. At a later stage this chalk drawing was worked up in pen and brown ink. The ink version differs from the chalk drawing in a few important details. The figure is placed in an oval with a rectangular surround. Everything outside that surround is treated sketchily or left as it was. This suggests that the drawing was a preliminary study for an engraving. A caption at the top identifies the sitter as Johannes Junius at the age of 45 in 1632. To the left of the head the date is more specific: 'Anno 1632 den 5 Julij'. Jan Pietersz de Jonge (Johannes Petri Junius) was born in Assendelft c. 1587 and returned to his native village as a minister of the church in 1618. In 1630 he moved to Bois-le-Duc, which had been conquered by Frederik Hendrik a year previously and was now in sore need of clergymen. Junius worked in's-Hertogenbosch until his death in 1635. Assendelft was also the birthplace of Pieter Saenredam, a second cousin of Junius. In the summer of 1632 Saenredam spent a month in Bois-le-Duc. Twelve of the drawings he executed there have been preserved. They are views of the town and architectural studies of the town hall, St. John's Cathedral and St. Peter's Church. The first drawing dates from June 29), the last from July 23. The portrait of Junius dated July 5 1632 thus fits exactly into Saenredam's Bois-le-Duc period. It was drawn a mere five days earlier than Sacnredam's first drawing of St. Peter's, the church where Junius was a minister. The handwriting on Junius' portrait bears a close resemblance to the handwriting on other drawings by Saenredam. The same applies to the way the date is written. Unfortunately there is virtually no material for stylistic comparison. Portraits are rare in Saenredam's oeuvre. The only extant portrait acknowledged as his work is a chalk drawing of Jan Jansz. van Ermelo of 1636. There arc however a few engravings after Saenredam which are closely related to the portrait of Junius. In 1629 Jan van de Velde made four engravings of Counter-Reformational ministers and in 1632 a portrait of the historian Antonius Bor, all after designs by Saenredam. The poses of the sitters and the oval framework correspond to Junius' portrait. The ministers have a common background too, for they were all orthodox Calvinists. The portrait of Junius may have been a design for a print. Direct evidence of this is found not only in the composition of the drawing with its distinctive oval and the rectangular surround, but also in lines quoted from a poem by Wilhelmus Suerendonck in Jan van Oudenhoven's history of Bois-le-Duc of 1649 - lines eminently appropriate to an engraving of Junius. No such engraving has surfaced as yet, however.


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