Bartholomeus Van Der Helst Netherlands

8-1613 Haarlem, NED – 12-16-1670 Amsterdam, NED

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Van Der Helst, Bartholomeus

In Amsterdam Bartholomeus van der Helst was a contemporary of Rembrandt. He soon became the most popular painter of portraits in that city, his flattering portrayals in the style of Anthony van Dyck being more immediately appealing than Rembrandt's dark and introspective later work. Some of Rembrandt's pupils, including Ferdinand Bol and Govaert Flinck, adopted Van Helst's style instead of their master's.

Bartholomeus van der Helst large group portrait, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster, was painted in 1648, and exhibited to popular acclaim. It was this painting that sealed his fame for future generations.

Along with the portraits for which he is most famous, Bartholomeus van der Helst painted a few historical, biblical and mythological scenes. Upon his death, his widow offered his works for sale in 1671 in an advertisement in the Haarlems Dagblad, probably necessary because of the depressed Dutch economy.

Today Bartholomeus van der Helst's most famous portrait is his half-length portrayal of Gerard Andriesz Bicker, the son of Andries Bicker, the mayor of Amsterdam, whom he also painted in 1642. This portrait is often used to depict obesity as a symbol of wealth of the Amsterdam merchants of the Dutch Golden Age in Amsterdam. It was probably painted in 1639, the same year as the first schutterstuk where Roelof Bicker is the central figure. At that time Gerard Andriesz Bicker was 17 years old, and held the titles Lord of Engelenburg and High Bailiff of Muiden. It was quite common for artists to win whole family portrait commissions from members of the schutterij after painting group portraits. This is why the competition in schutterstukken became so fierce, led by Rembrandt's Nightwatch.

June 2006, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, he splashed lighter fuel on the painting Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648) by Bartholomeus van der Helst and set fire to it. Most damage was to the varnish layer. Bohlmann was sentenced to 3 years by the court in Amsterdam.

Art Movement: Baroque Art, Dutch Golden Age
Influences: Frans Hals
Influenced: Ferdinand Bol, Govaert Flinck, Lodewijk van der Helst
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