Inventories of Castle Meerdervoort dating from 1680 and 1749 record Cuyp’s portrait of two sons of the wealthy Pompe van Meerdervoort family with their tutor and coachman. The painting hung over the mantle in the boys’ room, as the patron probably intended. In the distance Cuyp depicted not the environs of Dordrecht but the countryside near Elten on the Rhine. The castle may allude to the family’s place among the landed gentry.
This exceptionally fine picture represents two young members of a distinguished Dordrecht family: on the left, Cornelis Pompe van Meerdervoort and, in the center, his slightly older brother Michiel, who died not long after Cuyp completed the portrait. The sitters are identified in the 1749 inventory of the estate of Cornelis's descendant Johan Diederik Pompe van Meerdervoort (Veth 1884). The work is also mentioned in a 1680 inventory (Staring 1933) of the contents of the Huis te Meerdervoort, as hanging in the children's room, over the mantelpiece. It is among the earliest examples in the Netherlnads, or anywhere in Europe, of sitters from outside court circles depicted in an equestrian portrait. In Dordrecht, Cuyp and his father were leaders in this genre.
When Cuyp made this portrait, there were only three living members of this particular branch of the Pompe van Meerdervoort family: the sitters and their mother, Adriana van Beveren (1618–1678). Her husband (also named Michiel) died in 1639, just two years after the couple's marriage and before the birth of their second son. With the younger Michiel's death in 1653, the thirty-five-year-old widow was left alone with her fourteen-year-old son, Cornelis, who was to outlive her by two years. In the 1670s, he had his portrait (private collection, The Netherlands) painted by Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627–1678), and although at least twenty years had passed since his features were recorded by Cuyp, the resemblance to the boy on the left in this work is unmistakable.
The sitters' mother was almost certainly the first owner of this painting, and she is one of three parties who may have commissioned it. Her father, Cornelis van Beveren (1591–1663), Lord of Strevelshock, West-IJsselmonde, and De Lindt—a wealthy and influential citizen who held numerous high public offices, including burgomaster of Dordrecht, and was receiver general of South Holland and ambassador to Denmark, Hamburg, England, and France—may have commissioned the work himself. It is also possible that the boys' uncle Matthijs van Slingelandt (1631–1679) was the patron or the person who suggested having this type of portrait painted, and by whom.
The Meerdervoort estate was located across the Oude Maas from Dordrecht, just south of the village of Zwijndrecht, but the setting of the MMA picture does not derive from this neighborhood. The partly ruined castle in the background is imaginary (similar walls and towers occur elsewhere in Cuyp's work), and was probably intended to suggest a seigneurial past. The view in the left background is based on The Rhine near Elten (Fondation Custodia, Institut Néerlandais, Paris), one of the drawings Cuyp made in the area of Nijmegen about 1651–52. The church and cloister of Hoog-Elten are seen on the hill below Cornelis's akimbo arm. To the far left, on the near side of the river, are the church and village of Rindern, while the town and church of Laag-Elten appear beyond the sailboats on the Rhine. No specific connection between the area of Elten and the Pompe van Meerdervoort family is known (although they owned land elsewhere in Gelderland).
The dogs in this painting are greyhounds and foxhounds. The animal leading the pack at the left edge of the composition appears to be Cuyp's awkward attempt to render a running hare. The costumes are not normal hunting attire, but exotic outfits modeled on Hungarian attire. Since Cuyp used the same or similar motifs in contemporary pictures, they were probably based on studio props. The effect is a romantic aura of a noble family that extends over borders and back in time.
[2012; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed (lower left): A. cuyp. fecit.
the sitters' mother, Adriana van Beveren, Huis te Meerdervoort, Zwijndrecht, near Dordrecht (until d. 1678); the sitter, Cornelis Pompe van Meerdervoort, Huis te Meerdervoort (1678–d. 1680; inv., 1680); his son, Jacob Pompe van Meerdervoort, Huis te Meerdervoort (1680–d. 1720); his son, Johan Diederik Pompe van Meerdervoort, Huis te Meerdervoort (1720–d. 1749; inv., 1749, no. 42); his daughters, Maria Christina (d. 1781), Adriana (d. 1778), and Christina Elisabeth (d. 1801) Pompe van Meerdervoort, Huis te Meerdervoort (from 1749); Pompe van Meerdervoort (until 1806; sale, Bosboom, The Hague, August 20, 1806, no. 94, as "Hunting Party with Three Men on Horses and a Hunter with Dogs in the Foreground," 42 x 50 duim., for fl. 695 to Lafontaine); [P. J. Lafontaine, ?Paris, from 1806]; Monsieur Lapeyrière, Paris (until 1825; his anonymous sale, Galerie Lebrun, Paris, April 19ff., 1825, no. 103, as "La partie de chasse," for Fr 17,950); [Alexis Delahante, Paris and London]; Thomas Emmerson, London (until 1829; his sale, Phillips, London, May 1–2, 1829, no. 165, as "La Partie de Chasse du Prince d'Orange," for £1,102.10); Richard Sanderson, London (by 1834–48; his sale, Christie's, London, June 17, 1848, no. 25, as "Prince of Orange on a grey horse," for £556.10 to Norton); [Norton, London, from 1848]; Mrs. Lyne Stephens, Lynford Hall, Norfolk (until d. 1894; her estate sale, Christie's, London, May 9ff., 1895, no. 331, as "The Prince of Orange, with his sons, prepared to depart for the chase," for £2,100 to Wertheimer); [Charles J. Wertheimer, London, and Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1895; Sedelmeyer cat., 1895, no. 3; sold to Kann]; Maurice Kann, Paris (1895–d. 1906; his estate, 1906–11; his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 9, 1911, no. 12, as "Départ pour la chasse," for Fr 160,000 or 170,000 to Kleinberger and Fischhof); [Kleinberger, Paris, and Eugène Fischhof, Paris, 1911–13; Fischhof sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 14, 1913, no. 50, for Fr 145,000 to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, Paris, from 1913]; Monsieur Magin, Paris (until 1922; séquestre sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 23, 1922, no. 12, for Fr 62,000 to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris, 1922; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1922–d. 1931)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," July–August 1954, no. 5.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," August–September 1954, no. 5.
Kansas City, Mo. William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art. "The Horse in Art: Paintings–17th to 20th Century," October–November 1954, no. 5.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Aelbert Cuyp," October 7, 2001–January 13, 2002, no. 29.
London. National Gallery. "Aelbert Cuyp," February 13–May 12, 2002, no. 29.
Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum. "Aelbert Cuyp," June 7–September 1, 2002, no. 29.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer," October 11, 2015–January 18, 2016, no. 14.
Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer," February 24–May 29, 2016, no. 14.
Inventory of the estate of Cornelis Pompe van Meerdervoort. 1680 [see Ref. Staring 1933], records it over the mantelpiece in the children's room, and identifies the figures as two milords, Mr. Caulier on horseback, and Willem the coachman.
Inventory of the estate of Johan Diederik Pompe van Meerdervoort. 1749, no. 42 [see Ref. Veth 1884], identifies the two boys.
John Smith. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish, and French Painters. Vol. 5, London, 1834, p. 326, no. 150, calls it "A Gentleman with his two Sons"; gives provenance information.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Works of Art and Artists in England. London, 1838, vol. 2, p. 400.
G[ustav]. F[riedrich]. Waagen. Kunstwerke und Künstler in England und Paris. Vol. 2, Kunstwerke und Künstler in England. Berlin, 1838, p. 207.
[Gustav Friedrich] Waagen. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 2, p. 289, erroneously as still in the Sanderson collection.
Lady Jervis White Jervis. Painting and Celebrated Painters, Ancient and Modern. London, 1854, vol. 2, pp. 325–26, as "Gentlemen and two youths about to start on a hunting expedition," erroneously as still in the collection of Mr. Sanderson.
G. H. Veth. "Aelbert Cuyp, Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, en Benjamin Cuyp." Oud-Holland 2 (1884), pp. 260–61, mentions the inclusion of this painting, whose present location is unknown to him, in the 1749 inventory of Johan Diederik Pompe van Meerdervoort's estate [see Ref.], which names the two boys; identifies their parents, and notes that the picture was not sold at auction in 1749 but remained in the family and was sold privately later on; dates it about 1653.
Illustrated Catalogue of the Second Hundred of Paintings by Old Masters . . . Belonging to the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1895, p. 6, no. 3, ill. p. 7, as "The Prince of Orange with his Sons"; states that it was brought to England by M. Delahante.
W[illiam]. Roberts. Memorials of Christie's: A Record of Art Sales from 1766 to 1896. London, 1897, vol. 2, pp. 248–49.
E. W. Moes. Iconographia Batava: Beredeneerde Lijst van Geschilderde en Gebeeldhouwde Portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in Vorige Eeuwen. Vol. 2, Amsterdam, 1905, p. 223, no. 6005-1.
Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 2, London, 1909, p. 33, no. 85, p. 183, no. 617, states erroneously that Sedelmeyer bought it from Delahante; notes that the landscape resembles that of Hoch and Nieder Elten on the Rhine.
Auguste Marguillier. "Collection de feu M. Maurice Kann." Les arts 8 (April 1909), p. 24.
Louis Gillet. "La collection Maurice Kann [part 1]." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 26 (1909), p. 369.
"Der Kunstmarkt: Die Versteigerung der Sammlung Maurice Kann." Der Cicerone 3 (1911), p. 519, as sold to Fischhof for Fr 160,000.
Wilhelm von Bode. La Collection Maurice Kann. Paris, 1911, p. 23.
Gabriel Mourey. "La collection Eugène Fischhof." Les arts no. 137 (May 1913), p. 4, ill. p. 6.
Algernon Graves. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 1, London, 1918, pp. 191, 194, gives provenance information.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 22, dates it about 1655–60.
Jerrold Holmes. "The Cuyps in America." Art in America 18 (June 1930), pp. 168, 185, no. 38, calls it a late work.
[Adolph Staring]. Catalogus der Genealogisch-Heraldisch Tentoonstelling. Exh. cat., Raadsgebouw. The Hague, 1933, unpaginated, no. 938 (photograph only), identifies the painting in the 1913 Fischhof sale [this work] as the picture included in the 1680 and 1749 Pompe van Meerdervoort inventories [see Refs.], formerly in the collection of a family descendant, the late J. Stoop of Zwijndrecht.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 633, no. 1688, ill. p. 632 (cropped).
Stephen Reiss. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. May 4, 1952, notes that the painting depicts Michiel and Cornelis Pompe van Meerdervoort with their tutor, and adds that the birth dates of the two boys provide a means of assigning a relatively accurate date of execution.
A[dolph]. Staring. "De Ruiterportretgroep van Albert Cuyp in Het Metropolitan Museum te New York." Oud-Holland 68 (1953), pp. 117–18, ill., notes that Reiss's [see Ref. 1953] identification of the sitters had already been made [see Ref. Staring 1933].
Stephen Reiss. "Aelbert Cuyp." Burlington Magazine 95 (February 1953), pp. 45–46, fig. 15, notes that the picture must date not later than 1653, the year of Michiel Pompe van Meerdervoort's death; states that the same landscape appears in "River Valley, with the Artist Sketching" (Reiss 1975, no. 120; Duke of Bedford).
Heinrich Dattenberg. Niederrheinansichten Holländischer Künstler der 17.Jahrhunderts. Düsseldorf, 1967, p. 72, no. 78, states that the background is a view of Hochelten.
Carlos van Hasselt. Dessins de paysagistes hollandais du XVIIe siècle. Exh. cat., Bibliothèque Albert 1er. [Brussels], 1968, vol. 1, p. 35, under no. 32, identifies a drawing depicting the Rhine near Elten (Institut Néerlandais, Fondation Custodia, Paris; inv. no. 5304) as the source for the landscape background in this work and in the Duke of Bedford's painting.
Véronique Noël-Bouton inLe siècle de Rembrandt: Tableaux hollandais des collections publiques françaises. Exh. cat., Petit Palais. Paris, 1970, p. 50, under no. 55.
B. P. J. Broos. "Rembrandt's Portrait of a Pole and his Horse." Simiolus 7 (1974), p. 198 n. 9.
Stephen Reiss. Aelbert Cuyp. Boston, 1975, pp. 9, 161, 201, 205, 210, no. 121, ill., dates it 1652–53.
J. G. van Gelder inAelbert Cuyp en zijn familie, "schilders te Dordrecht": Gerrit Gerritsz. Cuyp, Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp, Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp, Aelbert Cuyp. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Dordrecht, 1977, p. 174 n. 2, under no. 71.
Diana de Marly. "Undress in the Œuvre of Lely." Burlington Magazine 120 (November 1978), p. 750.
Charles Dumas. In het zadel: het Nederlands ruiterportret van 1550 tot 1900. Exh. cat., Fries Museum, Leeuwarden. [The Netherlands], [1979?], pp. 102–3, no. 65, ill.
Christopher Brown. Dutch Landscape Painting. London, , p. 7.
F[rederik]. J. Duparc inHollandse Schilderkunst: Landschappen 17de Eeuw. The Hague, 1980, p. 24, under no. 25, notes "the distinctly unhappy relationship between horse and rider".
Barbara Burn. Metropolitan Children. New York, 1984, p. 58, ill. (color), sees a Persian influence in the exotic costumes worn by the two boys.
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 184, fig. 260.
Ben Broos. De Rembrandt à Vermeer: Les peintres hollandais au Mauritshuis de La Haye. Exh. cat., Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. The Hague, 1986, pp. 186–87 n. 17, fig. 4, notes that the position of the horse and rider at left is the same, in reverse, as that in a drawing by Cuyp in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (inv. no. FMS 2810).
Simon Schama et al. inMasters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Boston, 1987, p. 81.
Alan Chong inMasters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Boston, 1987, pp. 111, 304 n. 4, fig. 8, dates it about 1652 on p. 111 and about 1653 on p. 304; relates it to a portrait of a couple on horseback (National Gallery of Art, Washington; 1942.9.15), which he dates slightly after the MMA picture; notes that the background landscape has no known connection with the sitters' family.
Robert L. Herbert. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven, 1988, pp. 163, 168, pl. 165, contrasts Cuyp's composition to Degas's horseracing pictures.
Walter Liedtke. The Royal Horse and Rider: Painting, Sculpture, and Horsemanship, 1500–1800. New York, 1989, pp. 83, 301, no. 184, fig. 68, colorpl. 28, and ill. p. 301, dates it about 1653; notes that it anticipates French and, especially, English "conversation pieces" of the next century.
Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 52.
Wayne Franits. "'Betemt de Jueghd / Soo doet sy deugd': A Pedagogical Metaphor in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art." Nederlandse Portretten. Ed. H. Blasse-Hegeman et al. The Hague, 1990, p. 219, fig. 4.
Alan Chong. "New Dated Works from Aelbert Cuyp's Early Career." Burlington Magazine 133 (September 1991), pp. 611–12 n. 42.
Peter Schoon. Aelbert Cuyp, 1620–1691. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Dordrecht, 1991, p. 14, no. 31, ill.
John Ingamells. The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Pictures. Vol. 4, Dutch and Flemish. London, 1992, p. 72, under no. P51, mentions it in connection with "The Avenue at Meerdervoort," which may include the same two boys seen here.
Alan Chong. "Aelbert Cuyp and the Meanings of Landscape." PhD diss., New York University, 1992, pp. 54, 91, 93, 110–12, 132–34, 138, 142, 145, 148, 172, 260, 385–87, no. 143.
Alan Chong inDe Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste Stad. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1992, p. 125, fig. 1, under no. 18, p. 126, under no. 19.
John Loughman inDe Zichtbaere Werelt: Schilderkunst uit de Gouden Eeuw in Hollands oudste Stad. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1992, p. 154, under no. 30.
Wayne E. Franits. Paragons of Virtue: Women and Domesticity in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art. Cambridge, 1993, p. 239 n. 169.
C. L. van der Leer. "De tuinen van Meerdervoort." Zwijndrechtse Waard (1994), pp. 52–53, fig. 13.
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. Washington, 1995, pp. 48, 50 n. 14, pp. 52, 54–55, fig. 2.
Eric Jan Sluijter inIn Helder Licht: Abraham en Jacob van Strij, Hollandse Meesters van Landschap en Interieur omstreeks 1800. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Dordrecht, 2000, pp. 105, 135 n. 21, fig. 145, notes the existence of a variant of this composition by Jacob van Strij (Dordrechts Museum, inv. no. DM 993/718).
Alan Chong inAelbert Cuyp. Ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, pp. 35–37, 39–40, 49 nn. 1–3, pp. 124, 150, 152, 166, 200, no. 29, ill. in color pp. 34 (detail), 151, dates it about 1652–53.
Emilie E. S. Gordenker inAelbert Cuyp. Ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, pp. 53–54, 56–57, 61 n. 1, discusses the costumes, identifying them as Hungarian.
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. inAelbert Cuyp. Ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, pp. 22, 149, 168, 170, 172, 174, 207 nn. 2, 6.
Wouter Kloek inAelbert Cuyp. Ed. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2001, p. 261.
James Fenton. "From Florence to Las Vegas." New York Review (December 20, 2001), p. 83, calls it "a glossy presentation of social aspirations".
Liesbeth van Noortwijk inJacob Gerritsz. Cuyp. Ed. Sander Paarlberg. Exh. cat., Dordrechts Museum. Dordrecht, 2002, p. 152, fig. 35a.
Bart Cornelis. "London and Amsterdam: Aelbert Cuyp." Burlington Magazine 144 (April 2002), p. 244.
Sander Paarlberg inThe Golden Age of Dutch Painting from the Collection of the Dordrechts Museum. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. [Athens], 2002, p. 116, fig. 1.
Lyckle de Vries. "A. K. Wheelock et al., exhib cat. Aelbert Cuyp." Simiolus 29, no. 3/4 (2002), p. 209.
Ben Broos inPortraits in the Mauritshuis, 1430–1790. Ed. Quentin Buvelot. The Hague, 2004, pp. 75–76 n. 24, identifies a second drawing in the Fitzwilliam Museum (inv. no. PD 255-11963) as a study for the figure of the rider pointing with his whip.
Susan Donahue Kuretsky. Time and Transformation in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art. Exh. cat., Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. Poughkeepsie, 2005, pp. 134, 274 n. 7.
Walter Liedtke. "Gerard de Lairesse and Jacob de Wit 'in situ'." The Learned Eye: Regarding Art, Theory, and the Artist's Reputation: Essays for Ernst van de Wetering. Ed. Marieke van den Doel et al. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 192.
Mirjam Neumeister. Holländische Gemälde im Städel 1550–1800. Vol. 1, Künstler geboren bis 1615. Petersberg, Germany, 2005, p. 212.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 39, 46, fig. 50 (color).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. x, 136, 143–48, 150 n. 1, no. 33, colorpl. 33.
Dagmar Hirschfelder. Tronie und Porträt in der niederländischen Malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 2008, pp. 252, 403, no. 85, fig. 42.
Henk van Nierop inClass Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2015, p. 34.
Ronni Baer. Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2015, pp. 135–37, 319, no. 14, ill. p. 140 (color).
There is a copy with variations by Jacob van Strij in the Dordrechts Museum (inv. no. DM 993/718; panel, 69 x 91 cm).
A drawing by Cuyp depicting the Rhine near Elten (Collection Frits Lugt, Institut Néerlandais, Fondation Custodia, Paris; inv. no. 5304) is the source for the landscape backgrounds in this work and in "Landscape with an Artist Sketching" (Marquess of Tavistock and the trustees of the Bedford Estate, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire).
Two drawings in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (inv. nos. FMS 2810 and PD 255-11963) have been described both as studies by Cuyp, and as later copies after the painting.