A Guardroom Interior
Hendrick van der Burch
Oil on canvas, 23⅝ x 28¾ ins. (60 x 73 cm)
Possibly anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Theodorus Spaan, 13 June 1809, lot 9
Camperdown sale, Christie’s, London, 11 April, 1919 (as G. ter Borch)
W. J. Abrahams, London, 1920 (as Pieter de Hooch)
Private collection, Switzerland, until 2019
P. Sutton, “Hendrick van der Burch”, in The Burlington Magazine, May 1980, no. 126, p. 320, note 27, reproduced p. 317, fig. 40
P. Sutton, Pieter de Hooch, Oxford, New York 1980, pp. 13, 52, 60, note 11, 141, under cat. no. D17, reproduced fig. 4.
In a rustic-looking tavern, a group of soldiers takes a break from their duties. A well-dressed officer is seated on a stool smoking a long clay pipe, his elegant plumed hat on his lap and the hilt of his rapier glinting at his side: his coat hangs on a wooden partition behind, and his brown and white spaniel waits patiently nearby. Another officer, standing beside him, enthusiastically offers a toast to his fellow men. Two soldiers, one, wearing a steel cuirass and seated with his back to the viewer, and the other, with a pint of beer in his hand, are absorbed in conversation. Two stray playing cards scattered on the floor attest to their idle pursuits. A pile of boots and armour lies discarded on the floor on the right. Three shadowy figures appear before a fireplace at the back of the room. Through an open door we catch a glimpse of a passage beyond.
The genre painter Hendrick van der Burch was born in Naaldwijck, a village near Delft in 1627. The name of his teacher is not recorded, but he probably received his artistic education in Delft, where he was inscribed in the local Guild of Saint Luke in 1649 at the age of twenty-one. In 1655, he settled in Leiden, and then, in 1659, he moved briefly to Amsterdam, before returning to Leiden where he probably ended his days.
Today, the extent and development of van der Burch’s oeuvre remains unclear, in part because in the past his works have so often been mistakenly attributed to his more famous brother-in-law Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684). Nevertheless, Dr. Peter Sutton and others have succeeded in reconstructing a small oeuvre, consisting of a few signed paintings, and another group that can be confidently attributed to him. Nevetheless, it is hard to establish a chronology owing to a complete absence of dated works. His surviving paintings show that he was sensitive to artistic developments in the cities where he worked, but by far the most important and enduring influence on his art was that of Pieter de Hooch.
Two years younger than Hendrick van der Burch, de Hooch was born and brought up in Rotterdam. According to the great chronicler of artists’ lives Arnold Houbraken, he was a pupil of Nicolaes Berchem (1620-1683) in Haarlem at the same time as his fellow Rotterdamer Jacob Ochtervelt (1634-1682). He is first mentioned as a resident of Delft in August 1652, when both he and Hendrick van der Burch witnessed a Will drawn up by the Delft notary Frans Boogert. In 1654 however, at the time he posted the banns of his marriage to Hendrick’s sister Jannetge van der Burch, he was said to be living in Rotterdam. In the next few years, archival records show that de Hooch and van der Burch, as well as various members of their families, were in regular contact with each other in Delft (i). Furthermore, they seem to have stayed in touch even after Hendrick moved away from Delft, first to Leiden and then to Amsterdam. In April 1660, Jannetge de Hooch stood witness at the baptism of Hendrick’ son Mourus in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, a fact suggesting that Pieter de Hooch may himself have moved to Amsterdam as early as 1660, although he is not recorded as a resident there until April the following year when his daughter was baptised in the Westerkerk.
The documented contact between Hendrick van der Burch and de Hooch is reflected in his art. Like his brother-in-law, Hendrick painted guardroom and tavern scenes in the early part of his career. These subjects descend from the guardrooms, or kortegaardjes, executed in the 1630s and 1640s by Pieter Codde (1599-1678), Willem Duyster (1598/99-1635) and Simon Kick (1603-1652) in Amsterdam, Jacob Duck (c. 1600-1652) in Utrecht and the Hague, and by the Delft painter Anthonie Palamedesz. (1601-1673). A more immediate source of inspiration for de Hooch was very likely the scenes of soldiering painted in the early 1650s by his fellow townsman Ludolf de Jongh (1616-1679), who was thirteen years his senior.
The affinity of Hendrick’s guardroom scenes with the early works of de Hooch is striking. De Hooch’s earliest surviving dated paintings are from 1658, but he was certainly active before this date, and the group of his paintings which are most comparable, both thematically and stylistically, with those of Hendrick van der Burch likely date from the early to mid-1650s. At this early stage in his career, before turning his attention to the domestic scenes for which he became famous, de Hooch painted a series of scenes depicting soldiers idling their time away in rustic taverns or guardrooms. Typically set in dark, monochrome interiors, they feature strongly lit foreground figures rendered in a palette of tawny browns, tans, ochre and rusty red. The present painting is clearly reminiscent of such early works by de Hooch, for example, his Players at Tric-trac in The National Gallery of Ireland, in Dublin (ii), or his painting The Empty Glass, in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, in Rotterdam (iii). It is, therefore, hardly surprising that paintings by Hendrick van der Burch have often been erroneously attributed to his more famous brother-in-law. Indeed, the present painting was in the past variously misattributed to Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch. It was, however, recognised as a work by van der Burch by W. R. Valentiner as early as 1920 (iv). Also its size and description are identical to one sold in Amsterdam on 13th June, 1809 (“In het Binnengezigt van een Coyn de Garde zitten drie Officieren te rooken en te drinken; agter hun een ander krijgsman in een vrolijke houding met een Glas in de hand; vier ander Beelden en eigenaartig bijwerk….”). And as Peter Sutton and others have observed an attribution to this relatively obscure painter at this early date was likely based on a signature or a trustworthy tradition.
Hendrick van der Burch was baptised in Naaldwijck, a village about 9 miles east of Delft, on 27 June 1627. His parents were the candlemaker Rochus Hendricksz. van der Burch (died 1663) and his wife Diewertje Jochmsdr. van Vliet (died after 16 June 1661), who were living in nearby Honselaarsdijk at the time. Hendrick had at least four sisters: Annetje, Jacomina, Maria, and Trijntge. Jannetge de Hooch, wife of the painter Pieter de Hooch (1626-1684), was also a sister or stepsister of van der Burch. In 1633, the family moved to Voorburg, a small town near Delft and The Hague, and sometime later relocated to Delft, where they acquired a house on the Binnenwatersloot. Van der Burch is first documented in Delft in 1642. He must have received his artistic training there, although the name of his teacher is not known. On 25 January 1649 he joined the local Guild of Saint Luke. Three years later, on 5 August 1652, he signed a notarial document with Pieter de Hooch, the earliest evidence of De Hooch’s residence in Delft.
By 4 September 1655, van der Burch had moved to Leiden, where he married Cornelia Cornelisdr. Van Rossum in November of that year. The couple had five children: their son Rochus (b. 1658) also became a painter. In January 1656, the couple rented a house on Leiden’s most prestigious canal, the Rapenburg, directly across from the university. Although the date of the artist’s registration with the Leiden guild is not known, van der Burch was a member paying regular dues. By May 1659, he and his family had moved to Amsterdam. Documents dated 1661 place van der Burch once again in Leiden. The last surviving record that mentions van der Burch refers, however, to his paying dues to the guild in Delft in 1664. Where and when he died is not known. His last child was baptised in Leiden in 1666, which suggests 1665 as the earliest possible year of his demise.(v)
i Hendrick and Pieter jointly witnessed two further documents in 1654 and 1655; in 1653, prior to their marriage Pieter and Jannetge travelled to Leiden to witness the baptism of a child of Jannetge’s sister Annetge and the silversmith Barent Gast, and in 1655, Hendrick attended the baptism of de Hooch’s son in Delft. Members of van der Burch’s family appeared at later christenings of de Hooch’s children in Delft and Amsterdam. Information taken from the article by Dr. Peter Sutton, ‘Hendrick van der Burgh’, in The Burlington Magazine, 122 (1980), pp. 315-319.
ii Pieter de Hooch, The Players of Tric-trac, signed, oil on panel, 45 x 33.5 cm, The National Gallery of Ireland,
Dublin, inv. no. NGI:322.
iii Pieter de Hooch, The Empty Glass, oil on panel, 44 x 35 cm, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen,
Rotterdam, inv. no. 2499.
iv According to the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague.
v Based on the biography in Walter Liedtke, Vermeer and the Delft School, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York & The National Gallery, London, 2001, p. 235.
Hendrick van der Burch
(Naaldwijk, near Delft 1627 - after 1664 Leiden?)
Keep me updated about Hendrick van der Burch: