Cornelis de Bie

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Cornelis de Bie
Cornelis de Bie by Gonzales Coques
Born(1627-02-10)10 February 1627
Diedbetween 1712 and 1715 (aged 84–88)
Occupation Poet, writer, politician, bookseller, notary
Alma mater University of Leuven
Period17th century
Genre drama, art history, Emblem books
Notable works Het Gulden Cabinet

Signature Signaturecornelisdebie.jpg

Cornelis de Bie (10 February 1627 – c. 1715) was a Flemish rederijker , poet, jurist and minor politician from Lier. He is the author of about 64 works, mostly comedies. He is known internationally today for his biographical sketches of Flemish and Dutch painters in his Het Gulden Cabinet der Edel Vry Schilderconst (the Golden Cabinet of the Honourable Free Art of Painting), first printed in 1662.

Chamber of rhetoric Type of dramatic society in the Low Countries

Chambers of rhetoric were dramatic societies in the Low Countries. Their members were called Rederijkers, from the French word 'rhétoricien', and during the 15th and 16th centuries were mainly interested in dramas and lyrics. These societies were closely connected with local civic leaders and their public plays were a form of early public relations for the city.

Poet Person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

Jurist Legal scholar or academic, a professional who studies, teaches, and develops law

A jurist is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence. Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer, law lecturer and practice law (lawyer), depending on legislation in the respective jurisdiction. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.



He was the son of the painter Adriaan de Bie [1] and member of the Chamber of Rhetoric in Lier known as den Groeyenden Boom. After his study at the propedeuse faculty of Arts at the University of Leuven, he returned to Lier where he became a notary and bookseller. He was married twice: the first time to Elisabeth Smits who died in 1662 and the second time to Isabella Caelheyt who died in 1706. He had eight children, four from each wife. He died after 1712 and before 1715.

Old University of Leuven Studium Generale Lovaniense

The Old University of Leuven is the name historians give to the university, or studium generale, founded in Leuven, Brabant, in 1425. The university was closed in 1797, a week after the cession to the French Republic of the Austrian Netherlands and the principality of Liège by the Treaty of Campo Formio.

Lier, Belgium Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Lier is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. It is composed of the city of Lier proper and the village of Koningshooikt. The city center is surrounded by the river Nete, which also cuts through it. Per January 1, 2010 Lier had a total population of 33,930. The total area is 49.70 km² which amounts to a population density of 669 inhabitants per km². Lier is known for its beers, its patron saint St. Gummarus and Lierse vlaaikes cake. It is also home to the world headquarters of Van Hool, a global bus and coach manufacturer. Lier's two principal football clubs are K. Lyra-Lierse and Lierse Kempenzonen.

Civil law notary lawyer of noncontentious private civil law

Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are agents of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record instruments for private parties and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State. As opposed to most notaries public, their common-law counterparts, civil-law notaries are highly trained, licensed practitioners providing a range of regulated services, and whereas they hold a public office, they nonetheless operate usually—but not always—in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis. They often receive the same education as attorneys at civil law but without qualifications in advocacy, procedural law, or the law of evidence, somewhat comparable to solicitor training in certain common-law countries.

Het Gulden Cabinet der Edel Vry Schilderconst (1662)

When the publisher Jan Meyssen asked Cornelis de Bie to write a book on painters, he started out to write the most important Dutch book on painters of the seventeenth century. This book of artist biographies continues the traditions of Karel van Mander's Schilder-Boeck and Giorgio Vasari's Vite . He used biographical material from Karel van Mander and Giorgio Vasari, but the importance of this work is that it is the only known biography for many painters of the seventeenth century that were active after Vasari and van Mander's periods. Because it is written in verse form, it is rather difficult to read today, but it is longer than 500 pages and includes engravings of more than 50 painters from period paintings and drawings. He was an important source for Arnold Houbraken, who refers to him as K. de Bie, short for Kornelis de Bie.

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.

Giorgio Vasari Italian painter, architect, writer and historian

Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.

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 work was first published in 1662 in Antwerp and De Bie has prepared a second edition of the work, but that was never published and the manuscript is now in the Koninklijk Bibliotheek van België (Royal Library of Belgium) in Brussels. The work included the biographies of painters, sculptors and architects, both already deceased and living. Most of the work is written in verse and therefore, it is rather a panegyric. The full title of the work is Het Gulden Cabinet vande edele vry Schilder-Const, Ontsloten door den lanck ghewenschten Vrede tusschen de twee machtighe Croonen van Spaignien en Vrancryck, Waer-inne begrepen is den ontsterffelijcken loff vande vermaerste Constminnende Geesten ende Schilders Van deze Eeuw, hier inne meest naer het leven af-gebeldt, verciert met veel vermakelijcke Rijmen ende Spreucken. There are also indications that it was rapidly set and printed and therefore, it is possible that it was mainly meant as a commercial work.

Antwerp Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, and with a metropolitan area housing around 1,200,000 people, it's the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels in Belgium.

Manuscript document written by hand

A manuscript was, traditionally, any document that is written by hand — or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some indirect or automated way. More recently, the term has come to be understood to further include any written, typed, or word-processed copy of an author's work, as distinguished from its rendition as a printed version of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations.

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

Poetry versus historical accuracy

Like Vasari and Van Mander before him, De Bie's biographies are interspersed with amusing anecdotes. Although such literary motifs belong to a long rhetorical tradition, many of these stories were labelled "historically unreliable" by leading historians in the 19th century and only recently have some of them been reinstated. However, since they were also often the only surviving source of information about certain painters, these stories have always been repeated as hard facts about the lives of other painters appearing in the stories. Examples are when Cornelis de Bie describes apprenticeships that were considered improbable because the artist painted in a completely different genre than the teacher. An example is De Bie's statement that Philips Wouwerman trained with Frans Hals. [2] Later historians claimed this was improbable, because Wouwerman painted landscapes with horses and Hals was a portrait painter. Today this is still considered by some to be improbable, though Hals clearly had a large workshop and took on his sons as well as other pupils.

Philips Wouwerman painter from the Northern Netherlands

Philips Wouwerman was a Dutch painter of hunting, landscape and battle scenes.

Frans Hals 17th-century painter from the Northern Netherlands

Frans Hals the Elder was a Dutch Golden Age painter, normally of portraits, who lived and worked in Haarlem.



<i>Het Gulden Cabinet</i> Book by Cornelis de Bie

Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const or The Golden Cabinet of the Noble Liberal Art of Painting is a book by the 17th-century Flemish notary and rederijker Cornelis de Bie published in Antwerp. Written in the Dutch language, it contains artist biographies and panegyrics with engraved portraits of 16th- and 17th-century artists, predominantly from the Southern Netherlands. The work is a very important source of information on the artists it describes. It formed the principal source of information for later art historians such as Arnold Houbraken and Jacob Campo Weyerman. It was published in 1662, although the work also mentions 1661 as date of publication.


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  1. Adriaan de Bie biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  2. Het gulden cabinet vande edel vry schilder const, online facsimile version in Google books, p.281
  3. Bie, Cornelis De (1 January 1661). "Het gulden Cabinet vande edel vry schilder const, inhoudende den lof vande vermarste schilders, architecte, beldthowers ende plaetsnyders van dese eeuw". Jan Meyssens via Google Books.
  4. Bie, Cornelis De (1 January 1710). "Klucht van het bedriegelyck-mal" via Google Books.
  5. Bie, Cornelis De; Neeffs, Jacobus (1 January 1670). "Faems weer-galm der Neder-duytsche poësie van Cornelio De Bie tot Lyer, uyt sijnen tydts over-schot vrymoedelijck voor-gestelt op de domme waen-sucht des wereldts, ghenoempt, werelts sots-cap vol zedige moraliteyten en sinne-beelden". Jan Jaye via Google Books.
  6. Horstius, Jacobus Merlo; Bie, Cornelis De; Snyders, Michael (1 January 1688). "Het sout der sielen welvaart getrocken uyt [...] Paradisvs animae christianae. R.D. Iacobi Merlo Horsty". by Augustinus Graet [Boekverkoper] via Google Books.
  7. Bie, Cornelis De; Salpaert, Jean; Bollaert, Quirin-Gilles; Gummarus, St; Bouttats, Gaspar; Everwyn, Willem (1 January 1708). "Den spiegel vande verdrayde werelt: te sien in den bedriegelijcken handel, sotte, en ongeregelde manieren van het al te broos menschen leven". Joannes Paulus Robyns via Google Books.
  8. Bie, Cornelis De (1 January 1710). "Klucht van het bedriegelyck-mal" via Google Books.