Guillam DU BOIS
Guillam Du Bois came from from Haarlem. It is not clear who his parents were. He entered the Guild of St Luke in 1646. He painted views of dunes, forests and beaches, and panoramic scenes. His work initially shows the influence of Jan van Goyen (1596–1656) and Salomon van Ruysdael (c. 1600/1603–70), and later that of Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9–82). He was in Germany in 1652–3, travelling some of the time with the Haarlem artists Vincent Laurensz. van der Vinne I (1628–1702) and Dirck Helmbreeker (1633–96), and working for the painters Abraham Cuyper (or Kuyper; mentioned 1605–52) and Bernard Kemp (active 1640–52) in Cologne.
Lilienfeld 1913; Bol 1973, pp. 283–4 (fig. 286); Giltaij 1977; Saur, xxx, 2001, pp. 52–3 (E. Schavemaker); Van Thiel-Stroman 2006b; Ecartico, no. 2626: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/2626 (June 5, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 24440: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/24440 (June 5, 2017).
DPG118 – View on the Rhine
1652–80; canvas, 79.8 x 102.2 cm
?Jackson (of Chelsea) sale, Christie’s, 7 April 1807 (Lugt 7211), lot 42 (‘Hobbima – A View on the Rhine with Figures’); bt ‘A.’;1 Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 19, no. 191 (‘Upper Room: West / no. 12, Landscape with convent, figures in foregd. C[anvas] Hobbima’; 3'7" x 4'4").
Cat. 1817, p. 9, no. 159 (‘SECOND ROOM – East Side; A Landscape; Hobbima’); Haydon 1817, p. 385, no. 159;2 Cat. 1820, p. 9, no. 159 (Hobbima); Cat. 1830, p. 9, no. 157 (Hobbima); Jameson 1842, ii, p. 468, no. 157 (Hobbema?);3 Bentley’s 1851, p. 347;4 Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 157 (Unknown, ‘certainly not by Hobbema’);5 Sparkes 1876, p. 79 (Hobbema, ‘Signed’); Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 12–13, no. 157 (the first attribution to Du Bois; ‘it shows all the characteristics of the style of his later period’); Richter & Sparkes 1892 and 1905, p. 30, no. 118; Cook 1914, pp. 69–70, no. 118;6 Cook 1926, p. 66, no. 118; Cat. 1953, p. 11; Murray 1980a, p. 299; Beresford 1998, p. 91; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 74; RKD, no. 284652: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/284652 (June 12, 2017).
Medium plain-weave linen canvas. Glue-paste lined; the original tacking margins are absent. The bottom right corner of the original canvas is delaminating from the lining canvas. Overall the paint layers are in good condition, with only a few retouchings some of which have discoloured. Previous recorded treatment: 1872, ‘revived’, varnished and frame regilded; 1952–3, Dr Hell; 1991, parts raised craquelure secured, N. Ryder.
This would seem to be a typical work by Du Bois, painted under the influence of the grey skies and dark brooding woods of Jacob van Ruisdael. The placing of the small hill in the foreground is typical, but without an established chronology for the artist it is difficult to date the work. It might have been painted during or shortly after his time in Germany in 1652–3, but it could equally well have been produced from sketches many years later. Richter and Sparkes in 1880 attributed the painting to Du Bois, an indication of the quality of their connoisseurship at a time when little was known about him and reproductions were scarce. In 1996 Jeroen Giltaij of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen said it was certainly by Guillam Du Bois, and mentioned the trip to Germany with Van der Vinne and Helmbreker.7
The picture entered the Dulwich collection from Bourgeois as a ‘Hobbima’ (in 1880 Richter and Sparkes stated erroneously that it had been labelled ‘Unknown’ when left to the Gallery). A false ‘Hobbema’ signature was noticed c. 1874 (since removed). Why Britton should mistake the castle for a convent is unclear, unless he knew some unrecorded anecdote. DPG118 may be the ‘View on the Rhine’ attributed to Hobbema that was on the London art market in 1807: it is certainly the only picture with such a description and by that artist sold before Bourgeois’ death that the GPID could offer.
Guillam Du Bois
View on the Rhine, 1652-1680
canvas, oil paint 79,8 x 102,2 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG118
1 According to Ecartico he was born between 1621 and 1625.
2 According to Van Thiel-Stroman 2006b, p. 112, it was not the painter who was buried on this date (as was sometimes said); she does not know when he was buried.
3 GPID (June 5, 2017).
4 ‘Minderhout Hobbima. Landscape, with a Convent, &c.’
5 ‘The effect darkened and deteriorated either by time or maltreatment.’
6 ‘The scene is simply an old château, embosomed among wooded hills. There is far less detail and less finish in this picture than in the example, by the master which we have already noticed [no. 131 = DPG87]; but in effect it is grand beyond expression. The grey, gloomy sky (a triumph of pure colour and delicate execution) throws a dreary atmosphere over the whole prospect. The solitude around the old château, and the cold, still, shadows on trees and spreading hills are full of wild poetry; eloquent in their appeals to the imagination. This picture should be hung lower down the wall. It is a treasure worthy of the very best place that could be accorded to it in the gallery.’
7 1858: ‘This is a wretched picture and certainly not by Hobbema. S.P.D.’ 1859: ‘Formerly unjustly imputed to Hobbema’.
8 ‘In simplicity and choice of subject his [= Du Bois’] landscapes come nearer to the conception of Hobbema than of Ruysdael.
9 Letter from Jeroen Giltaij to Richard Beresford, 5 Sept. 1996 (DPG118 file).