Wouvermans, Philip

, an eminent artist of Holland, was born at Haerlem, in 1620, and was the son of Paul Wouvermans, a tolerable history-painter, of whom, however, he did not learn the principles of his art, but of John Wynants, an excellent painter of Haerlem. It does not appear that he ever was in Italy, or ever quitted the city of Haerlem; though no man deserved more the encouragement a-nd protection of some powerful prince than he did He is one instance, among a thousand, to prove that oftentimes the greatest merit remains without either recompence or honour. His works have all the excellences we can wish; high finishing, correctness, agreeable composition, and a taste for colouring, joined with a force that approaches to the Caracci’s *. The pieces he painted in. his latter time have a grey or blueish cast; they are finished with too much labour, and his grounds look too much like velvet: but those he did in his prime are free from these faults, and equal in colouring and correctness to any thing Italy can produce. Wouvermans generally enriched his landscapes with huntings, halts, encampment of armies, and other subjects where horses naturally enter, which he designed better than any painter of his time: there are also some battles and attacks of villages by his hand. These beautiful works, which gained him great reputation, did not make him rich; on the contrary, being charged with a numerous family, and but indifferently paid for his work, he lived very meanly; and, though he painted very quick, and was very laborious, had much ado to maintain himself. The misery of his condition determined him not to bring up any of his children to painting. In his last hours, which happened at Haerlem in 1688, he burnt a box filled with his studies and designs; saying, I have been so ill-paid


Many of the best works of Wonvermans were in the gallery of the prince of Orange at the Hague. One of the most remarkable of them is known by the name of the Hay-cart) another in which there is a coach and horses isequally excellent,“&c. ”Upon the whole, he is one of the few painters whose excellence in his way is such a leaves nothing to be wished for." Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Works, vol. II. p. 543, &c.

| for my labours, that I would not have those designs engage my son in so miserable a profession." Different authors, however, ascribe the burning of his designs to different motives. Some say it proceeded from his dislike to his brother Peter, being unwilling that he should reap the product of his labours; others allege that he intended to compel his son (if he should follow th’e profession) to seek out the knowledge of nature from his own industry, and not indolently depend on copying those designs; and other writers assign a less honourable motive, which seems to be unworthy of the genius of Wouvermans, and equally unworthy of being perpetuated.

Houbraken observes, that the works of Wouvermans and Bamboccio were continually placed in competition by the ablest judges of the art; and the latter having painted a picture which was exceedingly admired, John De Witt prevailed on Wouvermans to paint the same subject, which he executed in his usual elegant style. These pictures being afterwards exhibited together to the public, while both artists were present, De Witt said (with a loud voice), “All our connoisseurs seem to prefer the works of those painters who have studied at Rome; and observe only, how far the work of Wouvermans, who never saw Rome, surpasses the work of him who resided there for several years!” That observation, which was received with general applause, was thought to have had too violent an effect on the spirits of Bamboccio and by many it was imagined that it contributed to his untimely death. 1


Argenville, vol. III. Pilkington. -Sir J, Reynolds’g Works.