Biltius was a still life and trompe l’oeil painter. He regularly moved: he was active in his birthplace The Hague, in Amsterdam, Maastricht, Antwerp and in Bergen op Zoom.
His main artistic aim was to deceive the eye of his public. He skilfully painted all the different materials: the fur of a hare, the plumes of birds, a hunting horn, a game bag or a heavy curtain. See how a few small plumes are floating in the air.
By the middle of the 17th century more and more hunting still lifes were being painted in the Dutch Republic. An increasing number of Dutch people had become extremely rich, with for example the East Indies Company. They surrounded themselves in their luxurious country houses with hunting still lifes, though most of them were not allowed to hunt, for hunting was reserved to nobility.
About Jacobus Biltius
The Hague 1633 – 1681 Bergen op Zoom
Still life and trompe l’oeil painter.
He had his first name “Jacob” Latinised into “Jacobus”. Some of his paintings are signed with “J. van der Bilt”
Pupil in The Hague of the little-known Dutch painter of French origin Carel Hardy (born circa 1620 in Valenciennes) around 1651 and of the fish still life painter Pieter de Putter (circa 1600 – 1659).
Biltius joined in 1660 in The Hague Confrerie Pictura, which was created in 1656 as an alternative for the local Painter’s Guild.
One year later, in 1661, our painter left his birthplace for Amsterdam, where he remained until 1666.
Between 1666 and 1670 he was active in Maastricht.
In 1671 he returned for a few months to Amsterdam, but soon moved to Flanders, settling in Antwerp where he was active until 1678. That very year Biltius and his wife were admitted to the secret society of local Protestants, “de Consistorie van de Brabantsche Olijfberg”. Its best known member was the Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens (1593 – 1678), in whose house its members would meet from 1674 until his death in 1678.
Biltius finally died in 1681 in Bergen op Zoom.
His son, Cornelis, born in The Hague in 1653, was also a still life and trompe l’oeil painter. He worked the latter part of his life in Germany.
About hunting in the 17th century
Hunting was originally a prestigious sport limited to the nobility.
By the middle of the 17th century there is an increase in the Dutch Republic of paintings representing hunters on horseback and hunting still lifes.
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.
About the art of painting a “trompe l’oeil”
A “trompe l’oeil” is a game, a joke, a cheating device. Painting also: how can a painter represent in two dimensions the effect of depth, of a third dimension?
That makes the study of 17th century painting in the Low Countries so interesting: one witnesses the invention of new subjects, new techniques. How far would these painters go in playfully excelling in their art? How refined could culture get? Painters turned art into a game and a game into art.
These paintings were called “bedriegertjes”, that is “a small imposter, a small crook”. Their aim was not only to deceive by perfectly imitating the objects, but also to be identified as painted fiction.
About our painting
Biltius is best known for his kitchen interiors and for his trompe l’oeil hunting still lifes. His main artistic aim was to deceive the eye of his public. See for example in our painting how a few small plumes are floating in the air.
The hunting equipment consists of a magnificently painted hunting horn, a game bag and wooden sticks to tie the partly visible net for bird hunting.
Why should you buy our painting?
Because it is an ode, not only to hunting, but above all to painting.
Admire how Biltius skilfully paints all the different materials: the fur of a hare, the plumes of birds, a hunting horn, a game bag or a heavy curtain.