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Dutch Painting

Portrait of Abraham del Court and his Wife Maria de Keerssegieter

Bartholomeus van der Helst
Oil on canvas, 172 x 146 cm.
Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam
Van Helst

Bartholomeus van der HELST
Haarlem 1613–Amsterdam 1670

Van der Helst was born in Haarlem, settled in Amsterdam in 1636, and in the 1640s took over from Rembrandt as the most popular portraitist in the city, his detailed, tasteful, and slightly flattering likenesses appealing more to the fashionable burghers than the master's work, which was becoming more individual and introspective. Van der Helst's influence during his lifetime was great. For example, Rembrandt's talented pupils Bol and Flinck abandoned the style of their master in order to follow his more popular manner. His reputation endured into the next century and as late as 1782 Reynolds wrote that van der Helst's Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster is, perhaps, the first picture of portraits in the world, adding that it as far exceeded his expectations as Rembrandt's Night Watch fell below them.

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