Matthijs Naiveu worked in his native Leiden and in Amsterdam in the last quarter of the 17th and the first quarter of the 18th century.
As a genre scene painter he would often paint scenes of theatre, of festivities, of Commedia dell’Arte.
Here we see masked Commedia dell’Arte performers at night. These troupes were popular all over Europe.
About Matthijs Naiveu
Leiden 1647 - 1726 Amsterdam
His name is sometimes spelt Neveu.
He was the son of a wine merchant and inn-keeper from Rotterdam. His grandfather had been a skipper in Liège.
Genre scene painter, he occasionally also painted portraits and still lifes.
He began his training with Abraham Toorenvliet (c. 1620-92), a glass painter and drawing master in Leiden, father of Jacob Toorenvliet.
From 1667 to 1669 Naiveu was apprenticed to the Leiden 'Fine' painter Gerrit Dou, who received 100 guilders a year (an exceptionally high sum) for his instruction from a Leiden notary who, following Naiveu’s parents’ death, was the custodian of Matthijs and of the three other children.
In 1671 Naiveu entered the Leiden Guild of St Luke, of which he became one of the Heads in 1677 and again in 1678.
He married in 1575 a widow with a 3-year old daughter; the couple got three more children.
In 1678/79, aged 32, he moved to Amsterdam, probably because he wanted to make an ambitious professional advancement as a portrait painter; recently Amsterdam had lost a number of established portrait painters.
Later Naiveu was appointed hop inspector. This work did not prevent him producing a considerable number of paintings.
The earliest known work by Naiveu is dated 1668, the latest 1721.
There are dated paintings for almost every year in between; his most productive periods were 1675-79 and 1705-12, his most productive year 1677, that is the year before his move to Amsterdam.
About our painting
Naiveu’s interest in depicting theatre makes him in Holland an important forerunner of Cornelis Troost (1697 – 1750).
After his move to Amsterdam Naiveu “chose aspects from life that would entertain - people in hilarious situations, some in exaggerated poses or costumes, either playing the part of fool consciously or unconsciously. Showing people acting out during the festivities is to amplify the everyday scene of the ‘theatre of life’ like Naiveu and his contemporaries saw in the plays performed by actors.” (A-M Dzidzaria 2007, P. 24)
About the Commedia dell’Arte
The Commedia dell’Arte was a form of improvised comedy theatre, usually performed in the open air, often played with masked actors, which originated in Italy in the 16th century. Revolutionary was the fact that here the female roles were no longer played by men, but by women.
Many Commedia dell’Arte troupes travelled all over Europe, adapting its characters and style to the local preferences. During the 17th century it was very popular in France.
Its professional actors played very recognizable social types that were an embodiment of a certain mood. Its plots are always about sex, love, old age and of course jealousy.
Some of these Commedia dell’Arte troupes combined improvised performances with public outdoor marketplace quackery. These actors had understood that laughter engages attention and encourages relaxed spending, and they pitched their performances accordingly.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a happy scene with masked perfomers set at night with a sharp ray of light coming through an open door.