Goveart Flinck

Rembrandt as Shepherd with Staff and Flute

c. 1636
Oil on canvas, 64 x 45 cm.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Rembrandt as Shepherd with Staff and Flute, Goveart Flinck

Govert (or Govaert) Teuniszoon Flinck
(January 25, 1615, Cleves - February 2, 1660, Amsterdam)

Dutch Baroque painter of portraits, genre, and narrative subjects, one of Rembrandt's most accomplished followers.

His father was strongly opposed to his idea of becoming a painter and secured him an apprenticeship with a silk merchant. According to Houbraken, however, the young Flinck was passionately fond of painting and spent much of his time drawing and sketching instead of attending to his work. Lambert Jacobsz (c. 1592–1637), a Mennonite preacher and a painter as well, managed to persuade Flinck's father that painting was a perfectly honourable occupation. Around 1629–1630, Flinck accompanied Lambert Jacobsz to Leeuwarden, where he was to study under Jacobsz's supervision. At the studio in Leeuwarden Flinck met Jacob Adriaensz Backer, who was seven years his senior. The two men moved to Amsterdam, probably in the early 1630s. Houbraken mentions that they left together, but we have only his word to go by.

Flinck studied with Rembrandt in or around 1633, during which time he absorbed the master's style and produced similar compositions. Houbraken reports that many of his works from that period were actually mistaken for Rembrandt's. Later, however, Flinck apparently made a conscious effort to change his style and turned to Flemish masters for inspiration. His earliest dated works are from 1636, which is probably the year he left Rembrandt's studio.

On 3 June 1645, Flinck married the wealthy Ingertje Thoveling, the daughter of a distinguished director of the Dutch East India Company. Flinck himself was a man of considerable means, as we know from the fact that he bought two houses on the Lauriergracht, for which he paid 10,000 guilders on 26 May 1644. Shortly afterwards, he built a studio on these premises. His wife died in 1651, five years after the birth of their son Nicolaes Anthonie. On 30 May 1656, Flinck married his second wife, Sofia van der Houven, of Gouda. On 24 January 1652, he became a burgher of Amsterdam.

Flinck was much sought after as a portraitist in the 1640s. He had good contacts and influential patrons in both Amsterdam and the area in which he was born. He worked on several major projects in the last decade of his life. In 1654, he executed a painting commissioned by Amalia van Solms for a private room in Huis ten Bosch. This was followed by two commissions for Amsterdam's new Town Hall in Dam Square, one for the Burgomasters' Chamber in 1656 and one for the Council Chamber in 1658.

In November 1659, Flinck received his most prestigious commission of all, once again for the Town Hall of Amsterdam. He was invited to paint twelve pictures for the large gallery, but his death a few months later, on 2 February 1660, prevented him from completing the project.