Christoffel van den BERGHE
Sint-Maartensdijk, c. 1590–Middelburg, 1628 or after
Netherlandish painter and draughtsman of still lifes and landscapes
At the announcement of his marriage in 1611 he said that he came from Sint-Maartensdijk (Zealand).1 Christoffel van den Berghe (sometimes Berge) worked in Middelburg. His pictures generally bear the monogram CVB or CvB. His identity was unknown until 1956, when Bol was the first to reconstruct his œuvre. Dated paintings are known from 1617 (a flower still life in Philadelphia) to 1624 (a hunting still life with dead birds in Los Angeles).2 He became a board member of the Guild of St Luke there in 1619; in 1621 and 1622 he was dean.3 He bought a house in Middelburg in 1621 and still owned it in 1628. Only a few of his flower paintings have been identified. Van den Berghe may have been a pupil of the Middelburg flower painter Ambrosius Bosschaert I (1573–1621).4 In addition to still lifes, he painted winter landscapes that recall those of Hendrick Avercamp (1585–1634) and Adam van Breen (c. 1585–after 1642); in general his landscapes resemble those produced in Antwerp. Already before 1625 the Prince of Wales, later King Charles I (1600–49), owned a still life with six dead birds by him.5
Bol 1956; Bol 1982, pp. 9–10; Meijer 1994; Van der Willigen & Meijer 2003, p. 36; Ecartico, no. 912: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/912 (April 26, 2016); RKDartists&, no. 7190: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/7190 (Nov. 8, 2019).
Attributed to Christoffel van den Berghe
DPG514 – A Winter Scene on the Ice
c. 1615–17; oak panel, 29.8 x 58.3 cm (cut at the bottom)
Cartwright Bequest, 1686 (no. 125, £1, ‘a pictur of men & woman a slidinge a winter peace in a broune frame on a bord’).
Sparkes & Carver 1890, p. 42, no. 100 (no name or country mentioned); Richter & Sparkes 1892, p. 141, no. 100; Richter & Sparkes 1905, p. 143, no. 100; Cook 1914, p. 257, no. 514 (Artist Unknown); Cook 1926, p. 277, no. 514; Cat. 1953, p. 48; Murray 1980a, p. 303 (Dutch School); Beresford 1998, p. 296 (Dutch School); Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 33 (attributed to Christoffel van den Berghe); RKD, no. 282054: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/282054 (Nov. 8, 2019).
London 1987–8, pp. 24, 64–5, no. 56 (N. Kalinsky; Dutch School; as on canvas).
Single-member oak panel which has a general horizontal warp and a vertical bow on the right. A knot in the wood has caused this irregular warp and the paint and ground have blistered, flaked and cracked. The worst area of damage in the right foreground of the painting again corresponds to the knot. The paint film is thin and worn overall. The right side of the sky and the trees are especially abraded; these areas and the worn figures on the right have been retouched. It seems that a strip of c. 3 cm is missing at the bottom. Previous recorded treatment: 1953–5, Dr Hell; 1990, consolidated with wax/resin, revarnished, N. Ryder; 2002, conserved, N. Ryder.
1) Christoffel van den Berghe, A Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters and an Imaginary Castle, c. 1615–20, panel with added strips, 27.9 x 46.7 cm; painted surface 27.3 x 45.7 cm. MMA, New York, 2005.331.I .5
2a-b) Christoffel van den Berghe, Winter Landscape and Summer Landscape, monogrammed CVB, c. 1615–20, both copper, 11.5 x 16.5 cm. MH, The Hague, 671 and 672.6
3) Christoffel van den Berghe, Winter Scene, monogrammed CVB, c. 1615–20, copper, 10.7 x 15.5 cm. Museum Mayer van den Berg, Antwerp, 1084 .7
4) (attributed to) Adam van Breen, Skaters on a Canal with a Pathway alongside, panel, 45 x 67.5 cm. Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Rijswijk, NK 2178 .8
5) Claes Jansz. Visscher II after David Vinckboons, The Prodigal Son wasting his Inheritance, signed ‘CIVisscher. fecit’, 1608, etching (second state with Latin inscriptions), 245 × 315 mm. Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, RP-P-OB-2387 .9
DPG514 is a coarser version of the well-known winter scenes of Hendrick Avercamp. The picture must have been cut down at the bottom (by c. 3 cm?), as the feet of some of the figures to the right of the central tree are missing. From the costumes, Johannes Nieuwstraten of the RKD dated the picture c. 1615–17, but he was unable to make an attribution.10 Guido Jansen suggested Adam van Breen or Christoffel van den Berghe.11 Van den Berghe seems to us the most likely, since DPG514 looks very much like a painting in New York formerly attributed to Avercamp but by Liedtke assigned to Van den Berghe (Related works, no. 1) . The two pictures have many things in common: a crowded foreground, small blocky figures, eerie, skinny trees, and buildings with little detail. Avercamp usually creates a greater sense of depth. Liedtke based his attribution on the strong similarities between the New York picture and a pair of small landscapes on copper (Summer Landscape and Winter Landscape) in the Mauritshuis, which are monogrammed ‘CVB’ (Related works, nos. 2a, 2b). Those are more delicate and colourful, but that might be explained by their material (copper) and their very small dimensions. Liedtke also made a comparison with an ice scene in Antwerp by Van den Berghe (Related works, no. 3) .
Of the works by the other artist mentioned by Jansen, an ice scene attributed to Adam van Breen (Related works, no. 4)  comes closest to DPG514 and the New York painting, but the low viewpoint and both the stiffness and the larger scale of the figures suggest another hand. 12
DPG514 depicts a winter scene in a town or village with richly dressed people, some of whom are skating on the ice. At the far left is a tavern with the sign of a swan – a common indicator of a bordello,13 seen for instance in scenes of the Prodigal Son; in one such image (Related works, no. 5)  there is also a wreath, like the two in DPG514, but nothing else seems to indicate that DPG514 illustrates that parable.
attributed to Christoffel van den Berghe
Winterscene on the ice, c. 1615-1617
panel (oak), oil paint 29,8 x 58,3 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG514
attributed to Christoffel van den Berghe
Winter landscape with ice skaters and an imaginary castle, c. 1615-1620
panel, oil paint 27,9 x 46,7 cm
New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv./cat.nr. 2005.331.1
Christoffel van den Berghe
Winter landscape with figures skating on the ice, c. 1610-1620
copper, oil paint 10,7 x 15,5 cm
Antwerp, Museum Mayer van den Bergh, inv./cat.nr. 1084
attributed to Adam van Breen
Winter Scene with Skaters
panel, oil paint 45 x 67,5 cm
Amersfoort/Rijswijk, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, inv./cat.nr. NK 2178
Claes Jansz. Visscher
The Prodigal Son wastes his inheritance (Luke 15:11-32), dated 1608
paper, etching 245 x 315 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./cat.nr. RP-P-OB-2387
1 http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/912 (April 26, 2016). Sometimes (as in Saur 1994, p. 385) it is said that he was born in Antwerp. However he seems not to be recorded in any Antwerp archive. Another possibility is that he was born in Antwerp and later lived in Sint-Maartensdijk, but the Ecartico website prefers Sint-Maartensdijk for his place of birth. With many thanks to Harm Nijboer and Marten Jan Bok (emails to Ellinoor Bergvelt, 20 April 2016; DPG514 file).
2 For Philadelphia, see RKD, no. 273926: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/273926 (April 5, 2016). For Los Angeles, see http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/588/christoffel-van-den-berghe-still-life-with-dead-birds-flemish-1624/ (Nov. 8, 2019).
3 Bredius 1884–7, pp. 260 (name as board member, ‘Christoffel van den Berg’) and 261 (name as dean, ‘Christoffel van den Berge’).
4 As suggested by Bol 1956, p. 186.
5 Talley 1983, p. 186. In the original inventory it says ‘Christoffel van der Borght’, which Talley interpreted as ‘Christoffel van den Berge (active 1568–after 1637)’; Talley gives no explanation of the years he mentions.
6 RKD, no. 275027: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/275027 (Nov. 8, 2019); see also Liedtke 2007b and: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/110003032 (Nov. 8, 2019).
10 RKD, no. 274917; https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/274917 (Nov. 8, 2019); see also http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.190827 (Nov. 8, 2019); for a copy in the BM, London, 2002,1130.17, see https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_2002-1130-17 (June 29, 2020); see also De Jongh & Luijten 1997, pp. 118–23, no. 19 (first state).
11 Letter from Johannes Nieuwstraten and Marijke de Kinkelder (RKD) to Nicola Kalinsky, 26 Aug. 1987 (DPG514 file).
12 Guido Jansen in conversation with Nicola Kalinsky. Other suggestions were made by Christopher Brown, who mentioned A. van Breen, A. Verstraelen and J. Beerstraaten, e.g. NG1311 (note in DPG514 file). Karl Schütz in a letter to Nicola Kalinsky from Vienna, 23 Feb. 1988, considered that DPG514 did not look like Avercamp’s Winter Landscape in the KHM, Vienna, 5659 (DPG514 file). See Ferino-Pagden, Prohaska & Schütz 1991, p. 24 and fig. 494.