, an eminent Butch, or perhaps rather Italian, painter, was born at Laeren, near Narden, in 1613. His name was Peter Van Laer, but in Italy they gave him the name of Bamboccio, on account, either of the uncommon shape of his body, the lower being one third longer than the upper, and his neck buried between his shoulders or, as Mr. Fuseli conjectures, he might acquire this name from the branch of painting in which he excelled for his usual subjects, the various sports of the populace, and transactions of vulgar life, harvest-homes, drolleries, hops, &c. are by the Italians comprised under the name of Bambocciate. Baldinucci seems to be of the same opinion, He had, however, an ample amends for the unseemliness of his limbs, in the superior beauties of a mind endowed xvith extensive powers of perception and imitation. He resided at Rome for sixteen years successively, and was held in the highest esteem by all ranks of men, as well as by those of his own profession, not only on account of his extraordinary abilities, but also for the amiable qualities of his mind.

He studied nature incessantly, observing with a curious exactness every effect of light on different objects, at different hours of the day and whatsoever incident afforded pleasure to his imagination, his memory for ever perfectly retained. His style of painting is sweet and true, and his touch delicate, with great transparency of colouring. His figures are always of a small size, well proportioned, and correctly designed and although his subjects are taken but from the lower kind of nature, such as plunderings, playing at bowls, inns, farriers shops, cattle, or conversations, | yet whatever he painted was so excellently designed, so happily executed, and so highly finished, that his manner was adopted by many of the Italian painters of his time. His works are still universally admired, and he is justly ranked among the first class of the eminent masters. His hand was as quick as his imagination, so that he rarely made sketches or designs for any of his works he only marked the subject with a crayon on the canvas, and finished it without more delay. His memory was amazing for whatever^objects he saw, if he considered them with any intention to insert them in his compositions, the idea of them was so strongly impressed on his mind, that he could represent them with as much truth as if they were placed before his eyes. Sandrarfc observes, that although painters, who are accustomed to a small size, are frequently inaccurate in the disposition of the different parts of their subjects, seeming content if the whole appears natural, yet Bamboccio was as minutely exact in having his figures, trees, grounds, and distances, determined with the utmost precision and perspective truth, as the best masters usually are in pictures of the largest size; which is one circumstance that causes the eye to be so agreeably deluded by the paintings of Bamboccio.

The earnest requests of his family and friends induced him to leave Italy in 1639, after which he resided for some time at Amsterdam and Harlem, where his pieces were as much admired as in Italy, which makes us doubt Houbraken’s assertion that he became jealous of the popularity of Wouvermans. Bamboccio, however, was a bad manager, and often in distress, and in the latter part of his life he was afflicted with an asthmatic complaint, which became insupportable, and brought on fits of melancholy, during one of which he threw himself into a canal, and was drowned. This happened in 1675. His disciples are not known, except Andrew Both, who imitated his manner. His elder brother Roeland Van Laer, who died in 1640, aged only thirty, painted in the same style and manner as his brother; being not much-inferior-to him, either in colouring, pencil, or design. He travelled to Italy along with Peter, and they resided together at Rome for several years Roeland painting the same subjects, and following his profession with very great success. He left Rome to visit Genoa, perhaps with a view to avoid all competition with his brother; and it is highly probable that he would have made a | considerable figure, if he had not been cut off in the prime of his years in that city. 1


Pilkington. Abrege de la Vie des plus fameux Peintrcs, vol. Mij.