About Gerrit Battem
Rotterdam circa 1636 – 1684 Rotterdam
Sometimes erroneously called Gerrit van Battem.
There are also three signed oil paintings with other subjects known by Battem: a flower still life, a fish still life and a barn interior.
Battem is also known for his refined landscapes of the river Rhine that he made in watercolour and gouache.
He was the son of the painter Gerrit Batton according to Giltaij (1983).
The portrait painter Jan Daemen Cool (1589 – 1660) was appointed as Gerrit’s guardian in 1640 after his father’s death.
One year later, in 1641, his mother married the landscape painter Jacob de Villeers (1616 – 1667). In 1646 de Villeers hit the jackpot: though not particularly known as an exceptional landscape painter he was paid that year the huge sum of 1500 guilders by the admiralty of Rotterdam for having decorated with landscape paintings two rooms in a new ship for Prince Frederic Henry.
Gerrit Battem was possibly a pupil of the landscape painter Abraham Furnerius (1628 – 1654) in the period 1648 – 1654, when both men might have travelled together along the river Rhine. Gerrit’s mother is said to have been an aunt of Furnerius.
Battem must have lived his complete life in his birthplace Rotterdam, except circa 1667, when he is documented in Utrecht. That year he actually married the daughter of the owner of a tavern in Rotterdam. The couple returned to Rotterdam the next year.
Dionys Verburg (circa 1650 – before 1722) was a follower of our painter.
About hunting in the 17th century
Hunting had always been a very prestigious sport, limited as much as possible to the nobility. It was actually prohibited for the lower classes of society to hunt and poachers and other illegitimate hunters were severely prosecuted. Certain animals, such as falcons and marsh birds (herons) were protected by decree and the use of hunting dogs was reserved for the higher classes.
Basis for the noble sport of hunting was the following adagium: “fur against fur, plumes against plumes”. This meant that dogs would hunt for running animals such as deers, boars and hares, while birds would catch birds. In Flanders the Spanish Habsburg archdukes Albert and Isabella prohibited in a decree of 1613 the use of guns, nets and other mechanical devises to support this vision of the hunt. But a simple decree could of course not stop the popularity of fire arms, not even at their own court. The hunt for finches and ducks was also very popular in the Low Countries.
By the middle of the 17th century there is an increase in the Dutch Republic of paintings representing hunters on horseback. One may think here such as Philips Wouwerman, Paulus Potter, Dirck Stoop, Jan Baptist Weenix, Abraham Hondius, etc.
This was clearly due to a growing demand, probably not by aristocracy itself, but by the expanding top of the middle class. Holland was at its economic and financial top, the East and West Indies Companies for example generated huge amounts of money.
These often extremely rich people were eager to surround themselves with the attributes of aristocracy. And although many of them were not allowed to hunt they could at last fantasize about it in the visual fiction of a painting.
This also explains the rather exotic nature of many of these hunting scenes, which are not set in the flatness of the Low Countries, but in a German or Southern, Italianate landscape, surrounded by hills, near a waterfall for example.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because you love hunting scenes and because this painting is cheap compared to the other work by Battem that I am currently selling.