Van Beest is a rare, sought-after artist, specialist of market scenes, who was active in The Hague (except for the four last years of his life).
Our painting dates from 1640, that is from the very year that he joined the local Painter’s Guild in The Hague. I know only one earlier market scene, from 1638, which is at the Mauritshuis Museum of The Hague. It is striking to see how these two paintings hold already the characteristics of van Beest’s later artistic production.
About Sybrand van Beest
Probably The Hague circa 1610 – 1674 Amsterdam
Rare, but important painter of genre scenes, especially of animated market scenes. He also painted a few farm interiors and history paintings.
Van Beest is documented in The Hague between 1629 and 1663.
The last years of his life, between 1670 and 1674 he lived in Amsterdam, where some relatives were living. He died in a house on the Kalverstraat.
The Hague took a particuliar position in Holland. Since the end of the 16th century it had been the residence of the Stadtholder (and of his court and of foreign diplomats) and of the States of Holland, the highest sovereign power within the Dutch Republic. Therefore The Hague attracted a lot of artists, although it was smaller than the other Dutch towns. Up til 1806 actually it did not even have the title nor the rights as a town. It only received these from King Louis Bonaparte, who had been installed as king of Holland by his brother Napoleon Bonaparte.
As a young boy van Beest worked as a clerk and lived in The Hague in the house of Pieter van Veen, pensionary (advocate at the Court of Holland), painter and musician. Van Beest must have studied painting with him and probably also with Adriaen van de Venne (Delft 1589 – 1662 The Hague).
Van de Venne was a very versatile artist, gifted with a narrative clarity; he was witty, skilled and original, responding vividly to contemporary life and politics. Van Beest was clearly influenced by his sharp observation of human behaviour.
After van Veen’s death in 1629 van Beest shared a house with his unmarried son, Symon, until his death in 1661.
Van Beest joined the local Painter’s Guild in 1640. In 1656 he was one of the founding members of the “Confrerie Pictura”, which was created by 48 fine painters as an alternative for the Guild of Saint Luke. The so-called decorative painters continued to register in or to join the ancient guild.
About our painting
This is an interesting, early example of the art of van Beest. It dates from the very year that he joined the Painter’s Guild in The Hague. He was around thirty years old.
In those days there were two vegetable markets in The Hague:
- the “daily” one behind the Great or St James’ Church and the City Hall;
- the “new” one on the nearby Market Square.
As in his later market scenes van Beest is always into some narrative detail; here for example the small boy at right buying fruit.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this excellent example of van Beest’s market scenes of The Hague testifies of his sense for anecdotic details while depicting the daily life during Holland’s Golden Age.