Masters of Mobility


12.4 Group Two : Inscriptions on the Recto

1 – Mountainous river landscape with castle and a town

The first drawing with an inscription on the recto, shows a broad mountain view with a castle on a hill and a city in the background.1 The inscription, in a different hand, reads: ‘no. 70 de laetste / gecontrefait naer Hendrick Waterner[?] doeck / de welcken naer meester Gilles quam [st?]ack tot Francenthal / alwear in quam een hertenjachte’. The words ‘no 70 de laetste’ were added later in different ink. The inscription clarifies that the draughtsman made his drawing after a watercolor painting by a certain Hendrick. It is uncertain whether the words: ‘de welcken near meester Gillis quam’ indicate if this Hendrick made his painting after one by Van Coninxloo or, as the words literally say, that he simply visited Van Coninxloo in Frankenthal. Nevertheless, the latter’s style can be recognized in the schematic construction of the landscape, as well as in the portrayal of the trees.

The Hendrick mentioned in the inscription, could be Hendrik Gijsmans (1552–1611/12) who also lived in Antwerp while Van Coninxloo was living there, and fled to Frankenthal in 1585, where he remained until his death in 1610.2 Although there are only a few works known by him, it is certain that he also painted in Frankenthal, as there are several of his paintings listed in the inventory of the art dealer Cornelis Caymox.3 In the inventory of Van Coninxloo’s estate, several watercolor canvasses of a certain Hendrick are mentioned as well: Een Jaecht van Hendrick op doeck van waterverff; Een waterverff doeck van Hendrick; Noch een cleene ordonnance van Hendrik wit ende swart.4 Still, these works could well have been made by a different Hendrick. Therefore it remains uncertain if the Hendrick mentioned in the inscription, is indeed Hendrik Gijsmans.

after Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Mountainous river landscape with castle and a town
Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, inv./ I. 376

2 – Landscape with a view of an enclosed garden

A second drawing that is inscribed on the recto shows a view from within the forest on a lower, enclosed garden.5 The inscription in the upper right corner reads: ‘cvii geconterfaict naer Joiys / dewelck naer meester gilles van coninxloot quam, albrecht / tot francenthal’. Again Frankenthal is mentioned specifically. This time the draughtsman copied after the work of a certain Joiys. Also in this case a Joos can be traced in the Frankenthal archives as the Calvinist preacher Joos van Liere (before 1520–1583/84). He lived there from 1574 until 1580.6 Yet, he died in Zwijndrecht near Antwerp, where he lived after his return from Frankenthal. This means that he could not have come to Van Coninxloo in Frankenthal, as mentioned in the inscription, as the latter only arrived there by 1587. It is also uncertain whether this Joiys copied this composition after Van Coninxloo, or whether it is an autograph invention. Surprisingly, the name Albrecht is also mentioned in this inscription, despite the handwriting being completely different.

In 2015 a painting was auctioned at Dorotheum showing a similar landscape with only slight differences in architecture and perspective [2a]. Although it exhibits a similar vibrant color pallet to Van Coninxloo’s, the rather simplistic style of painting excludes his authorship.

after Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Landscape with a view on an enclosed garden, c. 1600
Stockholm, private collection Einar (1893-1976) Perman

attributed to Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
River landscape with elegan party, second half 16th century
Private collection

3 – Forest landscape with resting hunters
A third drawing with a similar inscription is preserved at the University of Leiden.7 It depicts a forest landscape with two resting hunters. As the upper right corner has been severely damaged, the inscription is no longer visible. Luckily, the remaining piece of paper was glued to the verso of the drawing during the restoration. Only two words in a similar handwriting are still readable ‘…coninxloo… and …francendael…’. The date 1588 also appears, however, it seems like this is a later addition in graphite instead.8

circle of Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Forest landscape with resting hunters, c. 1600
Leiden, Universiteit Leiden, inv./ PK-T-AW-1198

4 – Village landscape near a stream

A fourth drawing with an inscription on the recto side depicts a village near a stream, with a particular building on high pillars.9Gecontrefait near meester gilles van coninxloo / naer den selsten doek / De selste historie / tot francendael’ is written in the upper left corner. ‘Naer den selsten doek’ can be translated as: ‘after the same canvas’. In this case the copy seems to have been made directly from the master’s original.

Surprisingly, a painting auctioned by Sotheby's in Monte Carlo on the 21st of June 1991, lot 321, depicts almost exactly the same village as in the drawing [4a].10 The background of the drawing in light blue wash, also resembles the colorful hilly landscape in the background of the painting. Nevertheless, several elements differ drastically, which complicates the relationship between the painting and the drawing. Yet, the rich use of color, and the style of painting closely resemble Van Coninxloo’s other paintings. However, as its present whereabouts is unknown, it remains impossible to attribute this panel to Gillis van Coninxloo. Furthermore, it is painted on panel while the inscription only mentions a canvas. Lastly, the painting has also been copied [4b] with added figures and small alterations in the landscape.

follower of Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Village landscape near a stream, c. 1600
Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België, inv./ F23841

possibly Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Landscape with a view on a village, c. 1580 - 1606

David Vinckboons (I)
Hilly landscape with an elegant company and hunters near a village

5 – Forest landscape with a pond

The fifth copy drawing depicts a typical forest landscape we recognize from Van Coninxloo’s paintings.11 The inscription reads: Nr. 38 gecontrefaict near meester gilles / Van coninxloot van Adriaen ende ick Albrecht / near het syne, tot Aemsterdam. From this inscription we can clearly conclude that the original composition was made by Van Coninxloo. Then two other names are mentioned ‘Van Adriaen’ followed by ‘ende ick Albrecht / naar het syne tot Amsterdam’. This time Albrecht made this drawing after a certain Adriaen, who himself worked after Van Coninxloo. In the inventory of his estate, 4 stucxkens van lantschappen van Adriaen are listed. Jan Briels, who made a transcription of the inventory adds ‘Adriaen van Nieulandt?’ in his transcription as Van Nieulandt is also listed among the buyers at the sale of Van Coninxloo’s possessions.12 Yet, again it is uncertain whether the Adriaen from the inscription is Adriaen van Nieulandt. Further research on this artist may provide answers.

after Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Forest landscape with a pond, c. 1600
Berlin (city, Germany), Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, inv./ 12657

6 – Landscape with a road in a forest and a view of a valley

The inscription on this sheet mentions Albrecht as well: ‘gecontrefait near meester gilles van coninxloos/ ende ick albrecht naer Hans Breugels tot france…’. This means Albrecht has drawn after Hans Brueghel, which most likely is Jan Brueghel the Elder as both names were used. Moreover, as a similar drawing [6a], and painting [6b] by Jan Brueghel are known, it is quite plausible that the mentioned Hans is indeed Jan Brueghel. This landscape has been depicted many times, and was also published in a print by Claesz Jansz. Visscher (1587–1652) [6c]. As the delicate drawing of Jan Brueghel has such a high quality, it seems that this design is the first. Yet, the print mentions Egidius Coningslo in[venit] which indicates that he is the inventor of the composition. As both the inscription of the copy drawing and the lettering of the print refer to Van Coninxloo as inventor, it becomes more likely that Jan Brueghel worked after a design of Van Coninxloo. However, the relationship between the two artists remains complicated and leaves much room for debate. It is also uncertain whether Jan Brueghel made a stop in Frankenthal during his voyage to the south.13

after Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Landscape with a road in a forest and a view of a valley, c. 1600
Amsterdam, Stichting P. en N. de Boer

attributed to Jan Brueghel (I)
Landscape with a road in a forest and a view of a valley
London (England), British Museum, inv./ 1935,0413.4

Jan Brueghel (I)
Forest landscape with hunters on a road and a view of a valley, 1594-1595
Nantes (France), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, inv./ 386

published by Claes Jansz. Visscher after design of Gillis van Coninxloo (II)
Landscape with Tobias and the angel (Tob 6, 1-19), dated 1608
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-1903-A-23861


1 Wegner 1967, p. 203, no. 13.

2 Several attributed drawings have been published: Hürkey/Bürgy-de Rujter 1995, no. G. 13-G 14, p. 254-255; Van de Kerckhof/Bussers/Bücken 2000, p. 54. See also Saur 1992-, vol 53 (2007), p.110 for a listing of his work.

3 This inventory includes a ‘Bonn Heincrich Geiβman; stud von Heincrich Geiβman and kleine feine Landschafften Heinrick Geiβman‘ (Kirchhoff 1889, p. 198-199).

4 Briels 1976A, p. 234.

5 Wegner 1967, p. 211, no. 15.

6 Van Mander 1604, folio 257r, Miedema 1994-1999, vol. 1, p. 286-287, vol. 4, p. 163-164.

7 Wegner 1967, p. 216, no. 36.

8 This observation is based on a high resolution image.

9 Wegner 1967, p. 206, no. 18.

10 Boutsen 2017, p. 61-65, ill. 3 and 4. Sabine van Sprang, conservator of 17th-century painting at the KMSKB, has pointed me to the fact the exact same composition of houses was used in two landscapes by Denis van Alsloot. See Van Sprang 2014, no. 16 and 22.

11 Wegner 1967, p. 204, no. 7.

12 Briels 1976A, p. 234, 242-243.

13 Plietzsch 1910, p. 66 and Pietrogiovanna 1987, p. 109-112.

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