Bentvueghels

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Anonymous, ca 1660, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam - Initiation of a Bentvueghel in Rome, where the new member receives his nickname or "Bent" Anonymous Initiation of a Bentveughel in Rome.jpg
Anonymous, ca 1660, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam – Initiation of a Bentvueghel in Rome, where the new member receives his nickname or "Bent"

The Bentvueghels (Dutch for "Birds of a Feather") were a society of mostly Dutch and Flemish artists active in Rome from about 1620 to 1720. They are also known as the Schildersbent ("painters' clique").

Dutch Golden Age history of the Netherlands 1575 to 1675

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in the history of the Netherlands, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first section is characterized by the Eighty Years' War, which ended in 1648. The Golden Age continued in peacetime during the Dutch Republic until the end of the century.

Flemish painting paintings from Flanders from the early 15th century until the 17th century

Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century, gradually becoming distinct from the painting of the rest of the Low Countries, especially the modern Netherlands. In the early period, up to about 1520, the painting of the whole area is typically considered as a whole, as Early Netherlandish painting. This was dominated by the Flemish south, but painters from the north were also important. Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, of which Antwerp became the centre, covers the period up to about 1580 or later, by the end of which the north and south Netherlands had become politically separated. Flemish Baroque painting was especially important in the first half of the 17th century, dominated by Rubens.

Contents

Activities

Anonymous drawing in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. From left to right: Joost from The Hague (bent-name Schotsen trommel), Cornelis (Poelenburgh) from Utrecht (bent-name Satier), Wouter (Crabeth) from Gou (bent-name Almanack), Tyman (Cracht) from Emster (bent-name Botterkull) and Peter from Leiden (bent-name Ram). De Bentvuegels.jpg
Anonymous drawing in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. From left to right: Joost from The Hague (bent-name Schotsen trommel), Cornelis (Poelenburgh) from Utrecht (bent-name Satier), Wouter (Crabeth) from Gou (bent-name Almanack), Tyman (Cracht) from Emster (bent-name Botterkull) and Peter from Leiden (bent-name Ram).
Bentvueghels in a Roman Tavern, by Pieter van Laer Pieter van Laer Bentvueghels in a Roman Tavern.jpg
Bentvueghels in a Roman Tavern, by Pieter van Laer

The members, which included painters, etchers, sculptors and poets, all lived in different parts of the city (mostly the parishes of Santa Maria del Popolo and San Lorenzo in Lucina in the north of the city) and came together for social and intellectual reasons. The group was well known for its drunken, Bacchic initiation rituals (paid for by the initiate). These celebrations, sometimes lasting up to 24 hours, concluded with group marching to the church of Santa Costanza, known popularly at the time as the Temple of Bacchus. There they made libations to Bacchus before the porphyry sarcophagus of Constantina (now in the Vatican Museums), which was considered to be his tomb because of its Bacchic motifs. A list of its members may still be seen in one of this church's side chapels. This practice was finally banned by Pope Clement XI in 1720. Although predominantly made up of Flemish and Dutch artists, a few other members were admitted, including Joachim von Sandrart and Valentin de Boulogne. [1]

Santa Maria del Popolo church in Rome, Italy

The Parish Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is a titular church and a minor basilica in Rome run by the Augustinian order. It stands on the north side of Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city. The church is hemmed in between the Pincian Hill and Porta del Popolo, one of the gates in the Aurelian Wall as well as the starting point of Via Flaminia, the most important route from the north. Its location made the basilica the first church for the majority of travellers entering the city. The church contains works by several famous artists, such as Raphael, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Caravaggio, Alessandro Algardi, Pinturicchio, Andrea Bregno, Guillaume de Marcillat and Donato Bramante.

San Lorenzo in Lucina church

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence in Lucina is a Roman Catholic parish, titular church, and minor basilica in central Rome, Italy. The basilica is located in Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina in the Rione Colonna, circa two blocks behind the Palazzo Montecitorio, proximate to the Via del Corso.

Dionysus Ancient Greek god of winemaking and wine

Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, and the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption. His worship became firmly established in the seventh century BC. He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenaean Greeks; traces of Dionysian-type cult have also been found in ancient Minoan Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South. Some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes", and his "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, and the only god born from a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre.

Despite the rowdy nature of these initiations, an intellectual quality was maintained. Joachim von Sandrart, for example, wrote in his 1675–1679 book, Teutsche Academie der edlen Bau-, Bild und Malereikünste (German Academy of the Noble Arts of Architecture, Sculpture and Painting), that his "baptism" included "reasoned discourses, undertaken by French and Italians, as well as by Germans and Netherlanders, each in his own tongue." [2] Also Cornelis de Bruijn wrote about the rituals he had to undergo in 1674 and made some engravings, which he published in 1698. [3]

Joachim von Sandrart German biographer of Dutch and German artists

Joachim von Sandrart was a German Baroque art-historian and painter, active in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age. He is most significant for his collection of biographies of Dutch and German artists the Teutsche Academie, published between 1675 and 1680.

Cornelis de Bruijn Dutch painter, writer and traveller

Cornelis de Bruijn was a Dutch artist and traveler. He made two large tours and published illustrated books with his observations of people, buildings, plants and animals.

The Bentvueghels and the Accademia di San Luca

The Bentvueghels were frequently at odds with Rome's Accademia di San Luca ("Academy of Saint Luke"), which had the purpose of elevating the work of "artists" above that of craftsman. For this reason, before setting off for Italy, artists would first try to become members in their local Guild of St. Luke so they would have papers to show on arrival. Travel to Italy became a rite of passage for young Dutch and Flemish artists after publication of Karel van Mander's Schilder-boeck in 1604. Often encompassing a difficult and in many cases dangerous journey, artists would spend years getting to Italy, using their artistic talents to pay their way. Many never made it all the way to Italy, and many never attempted the trip back once they got there.

Accademia di San Luca Italian association of artists

The Accademia di San Luca, was founded in 1577 as an association of artists in Rome, with the purpose of elevating the work of "artists", which included painters, sculptors and architects, above that of mere craftsmen. Other founders included Girolamo Muziano and Pietro Olivieri. The Academy was named after Saint Luke the evangelist who, legend has it, made a portrait of the Virgin Mary, and thus became the patron saint of painters' guilds.

Karel van Mander painter from the Southern Netherlands

Karel van Mander (I) or Carel van Mander I was a Flemish painter, poet, art historian and art theoretician, who established himself in the Dutch Republic in the latter part of his life. He is mainly remembered as a biographer of Early Netherlandish painters and Northern Renaissance artists in his Schilder-boeck. As an artist and art theoretician he played a significant role in the spread and development of Northern Mannerism in the Dutch Republic.

On arrival, many artists were therefore fairly established thanks to their work experience done along the way. However, equally many were still young and unknown. What they all did have by the time they arrived in Rome, was an overwhelming feeling of self-confidence in their ability to live by their own work, and membership in the Accademia had little relevance for them.

Traditionally, the low-brow qualities of the Bentvueghel's activities have been emphasized over their intellectual and artistic pursuits. David Levine suggests instead that "academic art-pedagogy, with its emphasis on repetitive copying, might well have struck members of the Bent [the Bentvueghels] as a low, mechanical process in contrast to their truly humanistic approach." [4] Artists such as Pieter van Laer, however, belonged to both organisations. [5]

Pieter van Laer painter and engraver from the Northern Netherlands

Pieter Bodding van Laer was a Dutch painter and printmaker. He was active in Rome for over a decade and was known for genre scenes, animal paintings and landscapes placed in the environs of Rome.

Known members

The earliest-known publication listing the members is the book by Arnold Houbraken, an artist and engraver who never traveled to Italy, but who used the Bentvueghels membership list as a source for his book, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, in 1718. Whenever possible, he gives the nickname or bent of the painter in his biographical sketches.

Arnold Houbraken painter from the Northern Netherlands

Arnold Houbraken was a Dutch painter and writer from Dordrecht, now remembered mainly as a biographer of artists from the Dutch Golden Age.

The original members of the group were also depicted in a series of drawings made around 1620. [6] Among those appearing in the drawings are Cornelis van Poelenburch, Bartholomeus Breenbergh, Dirck van Baburen, Paulus Bor, Cornelis Schut and Simon Ardé. [7] Upon initiation, members were given aliases that were often classical gods and heroes, such as Bacchus, Cupid, Hector, Meleager, Cephalus, Pyramus, Orpheus, etc. Sometimes, however, the aliases were witty or semi-obscene in keeping with the general activities of the society.

Some of the members with known aliases or 'bent'-names:

See also

Notes

  1. Bentvueghels in Joachim von Sandrart's "Teutsche Academie", 1682
  2. Levine (1990), p. 217
  3. Corneille le Brun, A Voyage to the Levant: or Travels in the Principal Parts of Asia Minor. In: Cornelis de Bruijn. Voyages from Rome to Jerusalem and from Moscow to Batavia (Catalogue of an exposition in the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, 1998)
  4. Levine (1990), p. 219
  5. Haskell, p. 20.
  6. The drawings are currently housed in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
  7. Levine (Grove)
  8. David Beck at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (in Dutch)
  9. Oud Holland, Volumes 84-85 (in Dutch)
  10. Pieter vander Hulst biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  11. Guilhelmo van Ingen in Houbraken's Schouburg
  12. Slive, p. 290; "according to Houbraken, he sniffed everywhere for strange creatures and plants".
  13. Augustinus Terwesten biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  14. 1 2 Abraham Genoels biography in Arnold Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 1718 (in Dutch)
  15. Kilian.
  16. This is a direct translation of his name into Italian.

Sources

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