De Jongh was a very versatile painter, but he almost never painted this subject of a guardroom scene.
He worked all his life in and around Rotterdam, except for a stay of a few years in Paris at the start of his career. Our painting must date from shortly after his return from Paris, circa 1642 – 1645.
About Ludolf de Jongh
Overschie 1616 – 1679 Hillegersberg
Overschie and Hillegersberg were two neighbouring villages near Rotterdam.
De Jongh is considered as one of the most versatile Dutch painters of the 17th century producing portraits, genre scenes, guardroom scenes, landscapes, hunting scenes, town views and biblical and mythological themes.
He studied painting under three well known painters:
- under the genre scene and landscape painter Cornelis Saftleven in Rotterdam;
- under the genre scene and portrait painter Anthonie Palamedesz. in Delft;
- under the Caravaggist painter Jan van Bijlert in Utrecht.
After his studies he left for Paris, where he remained from 1635 until 1642. No paintings from that period have yet been identified.
De Jongh returned to his native Rotterdam where he lived from 1643 until 1665. In 1665 he settled in the nearby village of Hillegersberg where he stayed until his death in 1679.
In fact most known paintings by de Jongh belong to his Rotterdam years, set between 1642 and the early 1660s. Over these twenty years our painter evolved from peasant, tavern and guardroom scenes to elegant, even aristocratic subjects, which he must have painted in Hillegersberg.
During the 1650s de Jongh was one of the leading painters of Rotterdam.
After 1660 it is thought that he painted less and less due to his other activities, first as a businessman, later as an officer (major) in the local home guard and finally as sheriff in Hillegersberg.
He was the Master of two famous painters that were both born in Rotterdam and who had both already studied painting under the Italianate landscape painter Nicolaes Berchem in Haarlem:
- of the genre painter Pieter de Hooch (1629 – 1684);
- of the genre and portrait painter Jacob Ochtervelt (1634 – 1682).
About guardroom scenes
Our painting represents the interior of a guardroom.
Until 1648 the Eighty Years’ War was fought, which one may call the Dutch war of independence from Spain.
It ended with the final recognition, by Catholic Spain, of the independent, largely Protestant Republic of the Seven United Provinces. Flanders remained Spanish and Catholic.
After the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609 – 1621) the Eighty Years’ War had evolved towards a slow war of sieges. In between and during these sieges there were long periods of inactivity, which the contemporary painters portrayed with a lot of sense for psychology.
In Dutch painting it really evolved to become a popular subject with several specialists active in this domain: Jacob Duck, Pieter Codde, Willem Duyster, Jan Olis, but above all Anthonie Palamedesz..
Most Dutch guardroom scenes show soldiers either killing time (playing cards or dice, or smoking a pipe, sleeping or drinking), flirting with prostitutes, inspecting their weapons or showing their booty to a superior.
In French a guardroom is called ‘un corps-de-garde’, which in Dutch evolved towards ‘een kortegaerden’.
About our painting
De Jongh has painted here an officer paying a visit to his men, who are playing cards in their guardroom.
Judging by the subject and the style of our painting it must date from de Jongh’s early Rotterdam years, most probably from the period 1642 – 1645.
Our painting was unknown to Roland E. Fleischer, author of the monograph on de Jongh (1989). Actually the author knew of only one guardroom scene by de Jongh, so our painting is an important addition. The author dated that painting also circa 1642/45. Both that and our guardroom scene clearly show the influence of Anthonie Palamedesz..
Because of the wide variety of his subjects, because he regularly adapted his style in function of new developments in painting and because he very rarely signed (or dated) his paintings some works by de Jongh must go hidden under attributions to other painters. Luckily our painting is fully signed.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a fully signed painting by Ludolf de Jongh, an important and versatile painter from Rotterdam, whose signed works are very rare.
Because until now only one other guardroom scene was known by de Jongh.