Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Driekoningen 2010 ... Three Kings 2010

Today is the feast of Driekoningen (Three Kings, Los Reyes Magos, or Epiphany). Since I've written about the Driekoningenfeest (feast of the Three Kings) twice before on this blog and do not want to repeat myself, I thought I'd show this painting The Adoration of the Magi by the Dutch Baroque Era painter from Utrecht, Hendrick ter Brugghen - and tell a little about him.

Hendrick ter Brugghen
The Adoration of the Magi , 1619
Oil on canvas, 134 x 160 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam -Netherlands

Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629) belonged to a group of painters from Utrecht who were inspried by the work of the Italian painter, Caravaggio. This group established what would later become known as the " The Utrechts School", or as they are better known, the "Caravaggisti" (followers of Caravaggio). The most famous Utrecht "Caravaggisti" are Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629), Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) and Dirck van Baburen (c. 1595-1624).

At the age of 15, ter Brugghen left for Rome and spent 10 years admiring/learning/emmulating the work of Caravaggio, with particular interest in Caravaggio's technique of chiaroscuro (the dramatic use of lights & darks in a painting). It is said that ter Brugghen may have met Caravaggio in Rome and studied under him for a time, until Caravaggio fled Rome (in 1602) on a murder charge.

When Hendrick ter Brugghen returned to Utrecht, by all accounts, he did quite well for himself as an artist. He painted what is known as "genre paintings" or scenes of musicians and drinkers, as well as biblical scences. In my readings, I discovered there is a lot of conflicting information on just where in the Netherlands ter Brugghen was born (Deventer, Den Haag, or Utrecht?) and whether or not he was a Catholic (not that that should matter, imo). However, he definitely lived, prospered well, married and died in Utrecht. His funeral took place in the Buurkerk which is in Utrecht's old city center, and is now the National Museum Speelklok tot Pierement (Music Boxes to Street Organs).

According to records in the Utrecht's archives, ter Brugghen lived somewhere in a neighborhood known as “Onder de Snippenvlucht” (Under the Flock of Snipe (wood cocks)) and was along the Oudegracht (old canal) that runs through the center of the city. According to one account I read, the Snippenvlucht was somewhere between the Stadhuisbrug (city hall bridge) and the Bezembrug (broom bridge). I'm not sure where this might be today, though I think it's somewhere near the Camera/Studio cinema which faces the Oudegracht and is near Stadhuisbrug.

However, below is an old drawing of the area with the arrow pointing to what is said to be the area where ter Brugghen lived.

Anonymous: Oude Gracht (Bakkerbrug-Stadhuisbrug)
c. 1660, pen drawing, 23.5 x 16.5 cm
Municipal Archives, Utrecht.

I'd like to try to find this area - it's quite possible that some houses may still be there ... hmmm. I have, in the past, found the remains of the studio of another of Utrecht's famous master painters, Abraham Bloemaert (Dutch Mannerist & Baroque Era painter, ca.1564-1651) and there's the house on the Wed (near Utrecht's Dom tower) that was once owned by Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch Baroque Era painter, ca.1590-1656) ... so, who knows!

If you'd like to read my other posts about the tradition of Driekoningen (Three Kings) you'll find them here: Driekoningen

Oh! if you make a "Galette des Rois" (Cake of the Kings), send me some! ;o) ... just kidding.

tot ziens,


Meisie said...

Interesting stuff! (happy hunting btw!) Those dutch place names just crack me up....reminds me of the town of Hotazell in SAfrica (hot-as-hell)...tis true too, the name and the heat hehehe

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

LOL @ Hotazell.
Ja, the names can be extremely entertaining both here and in SA.


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