Self-portrait, painted 1655
Bartholomeus van der Helst (1613, Haarlem – buried December 16, 1670, Amsterdam) was a Dutch portrait painter.
The son of a Haarlem innkeeper, Van der Helst moved to Amsterdam some time before 1636, for he was married in that year. His first dated picture, a group portrait of the regents of the Walloon Orphanage, dates from 1637. He may well have trained with Nicolaes Eliaszoon Pickenoy.
In Amsterdam Van der Helst was a contemporary of Rembrandt. He soon became the most popular painter of portraits in that city, his flattering portrayals in the style of Anthony van Dyck being more immediately appealing than Rembrandt’s dark and introspective later work. Some of Rembrandt’s pupils, including Ferdinand Bol and Govaert Flinck, adopted Van Helst’s style instead of their master’s.
His large group portrait, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster, was painted in 1648, and exhibited to popular acclaim. When Sir Joshua Reynolds visited Amsterdam in 1781, he praised the painting as “perhaps, the first picture of portraits in the world, comprehending more of those qualities which make a perfect portrait than any other I have ever seen”. On June 25, 2006, Hans-Joachim Bohlmann, who already caused an estimated 130 million Euro’s damage in similar attacks, intentionally damaged the painting by spraying lighter fuel onto the surface and lighting it. Bohlmann had been imprisoned for 20 years. A German judge ruled that damage to property could not lead to life sentence, although psychiatrists indicated subsequent attacks where highly likely. Although the damage is mostly to the varnish layer, some parts of the original paint and cloth are also damaged; as well as the frame.
Along with the portraits for which he is most famous, Van der Helst painted a few historical, biblical and mythological scenes.
From the Wikipedia article on Bartholomeus van der Helst
Banquet of the Arquebusiers
Bartholomeus van der Helst
Celebration of the Peace of Münster, 1648, at the Crossbowmen’s Headquarters
Also known as Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster
Oil on canvas, 232 × 547 cm
5 About Bartholomeus van der Helst
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