German-born Hendrik Willem Schweickhardt should be seen as a Dutch painter: his family moved to The Hague when he was three or four years old and he lived here until the age of 41. Here he had produced mostly decorative paintings although he had started producing small easel landscapes, such as our pair, around 1780.
In 1787 he moved to London where he concentrated on painting small landscapes, especially winter scenes, which he had a lot of success with.
Apparently he painted only two beach scenes. Our pair of paintings date between 1780 and 1797.
Schweickhardt died at the age of 51; his death was possibly related to both his daughters moving to Germany in a short lapse of time.
About Hendrik Willem Schweickhardt
German-born Dutch painter
Hamm (North Rhine-Westphalia) 1746 – 1797 London
His name is sometimes spelt ‘Heinrich Wilhelm Schweickardt’.
Painter of decorative paintings and of landscapes (he painted mainly landscapes with cattle and ice scenes). He also painted portraits, interiors and allegories.
He was also active as a printmaker, draughtsman, etcher and miniaturist.
Our painter’s father, Johann Andreas, was a German wine merchant who had moved with his family to The Hague when Hendrik Willem was only three or four years old. Apparently our painter never returned to Germany. Johann Andreas died in 1769.
Hendrik Willem studied painting under Hieronymus (Girolamo) Lapis, who had been born around 1723 in Venice, but emigrated for religious reasons (being a Protestant) to the Netherlands by 1758. He lived in The Hague, Brussels, Delft, Rotterdam and finally The Hague again (since 1785; he died here in 1798).
Schweickhardt married in 1773 with Magdalena van Olst: the couple had seven children, but lost the last one at a young age.
In 1779 he bought a stately house in The Hague.
The uncertain political situation in Holland must have forced Schweickhardt out of the country: in September 1785 he stayed for six weeks in Paris, in the Spring of 1786 for four-five weeks in London. In May 1787, he moved with his family permanently to London, where he lived until his death, ten years later. In this period he exhibited 24 times at the Royal Academy and 6 times at the Society of Artists.
Schweickhardt was a successful painter, who was well-off. Being very religious and friendly, he was hospitable for Dutch compatriots who supported their King William V against the revolutionary ‘Patriots’. Since December 1795 the famous Dutch poet Willem Bilderdijk (1756 – 1831) lived under Schweickhardt’s roof; he had left his wife in The Hague. Bilderdijk, aged 39 and (unhappily) married since 10 years, seduced two years later Schweickhardt’s daughter, Katharina Wilhelmina, then aged 21. Bilderdijk was therefore forced in June 1797 to leave London for Braunschweig in Lower Saxony in Germany, but Katharina Wilhelmina followed him a month later.
Her sister, Christina Wilhelmina, got married in May of that same year in Braunschweig with a nephew of Bilderdijk’s wife. This nephew had also stayed in London with the Schweickhardt’s … .
July 8th of that same year, 1797, Schweickhardt passed away at the age 51; it is not known if his death was related to both his daughter’s hasty departures from London.
Schweickhardt had three pupils: Pieter Gaal, Andrea Scacciati and his daughter Katharina Wilhelmina. In London he was also gave drawing lessons to wealthy ladies.
About our pair of paintings
Schweickhardt painted such cabinet paintings or easel paintings with landscapes between circa 1780 and his death in 1797, that is during the last seven years that he lived in The Hague and during the ten years that he stayed in London. Just like his contemporary Dutch colleagues Schweickhardt’s landscape paintings were strongly influenced by examples of the 17th century. Our summer landscape is infuenced by Adriaen van de Velde, the winter scene by Aert van der Neer.
Schweickhardt held a memorandum book in which he wrote down all paintings that he produced between the start of 1773 and May 1796. Although his descriptions are rather short (for example ‘winter with ice skaters’) one learns a lot about his production. His carreer can easily be divided in two:
- in The Hague he painted so-called Salon paintings: 11 sets of large decorative paintings with Chinoiseries, children scenes, putti, flowers or landscapes, but also 30 paintings which were hung above chimneys and 38 ‘suppraporte’ (overdoors). Around 1780 he started painting small individual landscapes, such as ours, but their number was limited.
- In London, where he moved to in 1787, Schweickhardt almost exclusively painted small individual landscapes. He had just three commissions for sets of decorative paintings.
Schweichhardt’s easel landscapes represent mostly winter scenes, but also cattle scenes, moonlit landscapes and mountainous landscapes.
- He painted 9 winter landscapes in Holland, 26 in England, often as part of a pair with a summer landscape.
- He rarely painted dune and beach views.
About kolf not golf
Two men in the right side of our winter scene are holding a kolf club, called a “kliek”: its wooden shaft ends in a heavy metal head made of iron or lead.
The development of kolf was of course tied with that of golf. In two words: one has to hit a ball (in those days made of wool covered with leather) to a target in a minimum number of strokes. Kolf is already documented as far back as the year 1200. It could be played indoors or outside. As in those days winters in the Low Countries were often very cold with long periods of frost and snow kolf became popular during winter: frozen rivers and lakes provided the ideal surface and space for kolf and also for ice skating. Both sports were often represented in paintings and engravings during the 17th century.
While golf (its idea originated in Scotland under the influence of kolf) became a spacious outdoor game, kolf turned by the 18th century inside although it could also still be played on the ice.
Why should you buy this pair of paintings?
Because these are typical late 18th century Dutch landscapes painted in the older mid-17th century tradition.