This Late Baroque, Arcadian encounter dates from the 1690s or from the early years of the following decade. In that period Boonen left his native Dordrecht for a journey along German courts before settling in Amsterdam in 1695/96.
In this subtle, French-inspired scene light plays a decisive role, as so often in Boonen’s genre scenes.
About Arnold Boonen
Dordrecht 1669 – 1729 Amsterdam
Portrait painter who occasionally also painted some (almost fifty) genre scenes, most of these lit by candlelight.
Son of a well-off merchant.
Boonen started his training at the age of thirteen for less than a year with Arnold Verbuys (1673 – 1717) in his native Dordrecht. From 1683 until 1689 he studied for six years under the famous painter Godfried Schalcken (1643 – 1706), also in Dordrecht.
Our painter initially settled as an independent master in Dordrecht.
In 1694/95 his fame took Boonen around Germany to Frankfurt and Mainz, painting for the Elector of the Palatinate and the Landgrave of Hesse, before settling in Amsterdam in 1695/96. Here he succeeded Nicolaes Maes as the leading painter of fashionable society, this for more than thirty years.
In Amsterdam he cultivated important patrons, including visiting dignitaries such as the Duke of Marlborough in 1710 and Tsar Peter the Great of Russia in 1717.
Amongst Boonen’s pupils rank Philip van Dijk, Jan Maurits Quinckard and Cornelis Troost.
About Late Baroque Arcadian painting
In several European countries the Baroque period ended with a French inspired, Classical movement: the earlier, dramatic realism was replaced by an idealised, decorative vision of nature and of reality. This Arcadia stood for an unspoiled, harmonious, Mediterranean nature, uncorrupted by civilization. It was regarded as unattainable or as a lost. The ancient Greek province of Arcadia was known for its mountainous geography and sparse population.
Arcadia became an idealised phantasy dreamland in poetry. Best known are:
- the popular pastoral tragicomedy “il pastor fido” by Battista Guarini (1590);
- the translation in Dutch by Karel van Mander of the “Bucolics” of the Roman poet Virgil (1597);
- the famous play “Granida” by Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft (1605).
In France Claude le Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin are its best known Baroque painters, so-called ‘Classicists’. In Holland Utrecht was the centre of Arcadian painting.
About our painting
Our painting stands close to Boonen’s candlelit interiors. In a very subtle way he has lit both figures in a completely different manner: full daylight on the girl and a warm reflection of the red cloth hanging above him on the boy.
Boonen’s genre paintings date from the start of his career, that is from the 1690s, from before 1700; some exceptions might date up to 1705 at the latest.
Stylistically and chromatically inspired by his master, Godfried Schalcken, he specialized in candlelight subjects in the tradition of Gerard Dou (1613 – 1675) and of the Leiden Fine Painters (“fijnschilders”). Schalken had studied painting under Dou in 1663/1664. Boonen’s early genre scenes, still strongly influenced by Schalcken, are painted in warm tonalities: brown, ochre, orange and yellow. From 1697 onwards his tonalities became brighter.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a beautifully balanced, marvellously lit, sweet and serene encounter in the idealised dream world of Arcadia.