Verhaert lived in The Hague, Haarlem and Leiden. He never travelled to Italy, but inspired by engravings, paintings and descriptions he did regularly paint Italianate views.
In our view of Rome one recognizes the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. Although the view is completely fictituous Verhaert has well captured the spirit of 17th century Rome: a rather small town full of huge ruins of ancient Roman constructions.
About Dirck Verhaert
Possibly born in Haarlem circa 1610 – died in or after 1675, probably in Leiden.
Painter of Dutch and of Italianate landscapes and of townscapes.
Our painter lived and worked in three different Dutch towns: The Hague, Haarlem and Leiden. He never travelled to Italy, although he regularly painted Italianate subjects.
Active in The Hague, where he joined the local Guild of Saint Luke in 1631.
Active from 1637 onwards in Haarlem, where he joined the painters ‘guild in 1638. In 1641 he married a sister of the battle scene painter Gerrit van Santen in Haarlem. His last mention in Haarlem is in August 1642, though he probably remained active here for a long time.
Active in Leiden from 1664 onwards. Documented here until 1675.
Strangely enough paintings by Verhaert go regularly hidden under erroneous attributions to the contemporary Flemish painter Daniel van Heil. Both painted mythological scenes, such as the fall of Troy, and both used the same “DVH” monogram.
About the Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine stands in Rome, not far from the Colosseum. In our view it stands right of the arena.
The arch spans the Via Triumphalis, the way taken by the Roman emperors when they entered the city in triumph.
It is the most important of the Roman triumphal arches. The arch is 21 m high, 25,7 m wide and 7,4 m deep. It has three archways. The lower part of the monument is built of marble blocks, the top (called attic) is brickwork covered with marble.
It was erected to commemorate the final victory of Constantine I over his brother-in-law Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, just outside Rome, on October 28, 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the latest of the existing triumphal arches in Rome, from which it differs by spolia, the extensive re-use of parts of earlier buildings. These marbles, statues and decorations, date from the "golden times" of the Empire under Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. It thus places Constantine next to these "good emperors”.
The central relief friezes running around the monument were specially made for this monument. They celebrate the Italian victories of Constantine in the civil war against Maxentius.
About our painting
Verhaert never travelled to Italy. But as so many other compatriots he painted fictitious Italianate views inspired by engravings and paintings of other artists who did go there.
At left stands the Colosseum, but the spiral of the construction of the arena turns the wrong way: the end-wall at right should actually be at left.
A bit further, right from the Colosseum stands the Arch of Constantine.
The ruins in the right foreground foreground remind of the Septizonium and the palaces of Septimus Severus on the S. side of the Palatine Hill.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because this fictitious, but very poetic view does give the right impression of Rome at the start of the 17th century: a small town filled with the grandest ruins amidst the Seven Hills.