Masters of Mobility


9.1 Willem Goeree : between Middelburg, Amsterdam and Hamburg

Between 1668 and 1682, Willem Goeree (Middelburg 1635 – Amsterdam 1711) [1] wrote and published five books on art: the Verlichtery-konst (1668) [2], Inleydinge tot de al-gemeene Teycken-Konst (1668) [3], Inleydingh tot de practijck der al-gemeene Schilder-Konst (1670) [4], d’Algemeene Bouwkunde volgens d’Antyke en Hedendaagse Manier (1681) and the Natuurlyk en Schilderkonstig Ontwerp der Menschkunde (1682).1 Goeree states in the introductions to these books that he intended to publish a series of books on art to assist and improve artistic instruction. Apart from the volumes on Drawing and Painting, this book series – which he called ‘onse geheele Schilderkonst (our complete Art of Painting) – would consist of books on perspective, anatomy, architecture, composition and invention (‘Ordineeringh en Inventeeringh’) and light and colour (‘…de kracht en Eygenschap der schaduwen, dagen, reflexien en houdinge en wat verder in ‘t coloreeren waer te nemen state, door Wiskundige figueren te betoogen’).2 The Teycken-Konst and Schilder-Konst were presumably the first publications in this series (although the subjects do not explicitly appear in Goeree’s list of themes), as were the aforementioned books on architecture and anatomy. In the latter, Goeree stated that he had written the volume on composition, but it appears never to have been published. The Verlichtery-konst was not part of this series, but was actually a restructured and considerably enlarged edition of a publication by Gerard Ter Brugghen (Verlichtery kunst-boeck in de welcke de rechte fondamenten, ende het volcoomen ghebruyck der illuminatie met alle hare eyghenschappen klaerlijcken werden voor oogen ghestelt) [5], which had first been published in 1616 with subsequent editions in 1634 (Leiden: Jacob Roels) and 1667 (Amsterdam: Willem Gort). In 1668, the year following the last edition of Ter Brugghen’s book, Goeree restructured and rewrote it in a more appropriate contemporary Dutch – the Dutch language evolved considerably during this period – and added information throughout the text. The fact that a reference to Ter Brugghen’s text is included on the title pages of all editions of Goeree’s book is a clear sign of its importance and reputation.3

Wallerant Vaillant after Jacques Vaillant
Portrait of Willem Goeree (1635-1711), seated before a volume and writing with a quill-pen
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ RP-P-1898-A-20651


Anonymous, Frontispiece of Willem Goeree’s Verlichterie Kunde… (frontispiece, 1670, 2nd ed.), c.1670, engraving


Anonymous, Willem Goeree’s Inleydingh tot de Practyk der Algemeene Schilderkonst (frontispiece, 1670, 1st ed.), c. 1670, engraving


Anonymous, Willem Goeree’s Inleydingh tot de Practyk der Algemeene Schilderkonst (frontispiece, 1670, 1st ed.), c. 1670, engraving


Gerard TerBrugghen’s Verlichtery Konst-Boeck (title page, 1634, 2nd ed.)

Although Goeree’s publications lack the learnedness of other Dutch art literature such as Franciscus Junius’ Schilderkunst der Oude (1641)4 or Samuel van Hoogstraten’s Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: anders de zichtbaere werelt (1678), their significance for the development of art should not be underestimated. In fact, the relative lack of literary references and abstract concepts may have well been part of the attraction of the book, especially for artists and amateurs with little intellectual ambitions.5 All books in the envisioned series on the Art of Painting, as well as the Verlichtery-konst were reprinted several times, until far into the 18th century.6 The Verlichtery-konst, Teycken-Konst and Schilder-Konst were translated into German and English within a couple of years after the publication of the editio princeps and had several editions over the course of the 17th and 18th century.7 Goeree’s publications were thus widely available, suggesting they had a considerable impact. The practical nature of the books makes it probable that many artists were amongst its readers.


Willem Goeree’s Kurtzer Begrif der Erleuchterei- und Anfärbe-Kunst (title page, 1669, 1st German ed.)


Willem Goeree’s Reiss und Zeichenkunst (title page, 1669, 1st German ed.)

In 1668, Willem Goeree published the first editions of the Verlichtery-konst and the Teycken-konst. The next year, the books were translated into German and published in Hamburg by Johann Naumann and Georg Wolf [6-7].8 Philipp von Zesen (Priorau 1619 – Hamburg 1689) [8] was instrumental in the quick translation.9 Von Zesen, who was living in the Dutch Republic in 1669 (when he translated the books),10 is a fascinating character. He had two great passions: the Netherlands and the German(ic) language(s). In 1662 he was given citizenship (burgerrecht) of Amsterdam, where he lived for extended periods of his life (between 1642 and 1648, 1656 and 1672, and between 1679 and 1683) and in 1664 he published the Beschreibung der Stadt Amsterdam, the first guide of the city in a foreign language.11 Throughout his career as an author and man of letters he fought for the purity of the German language.12 He was one of the founding members of the Deutschgesinnte Genossenschaft in Hamburg in 1643 or 1644 and a member of the German literary academy, the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft since 1648.13 The main goal of both societies was to promote the use of the German language. In Amsterdam, Von Zesen worked for the publisher Elsevier in the capacity of editor and translator. Von Zesen is famous for having contributed considerably to the reform of the German language, by standardizing spelling and encouraging the use of German terms instead of words from the Roman languages. Although further research is required, we may assume that these considerations also played a role in his initiative to translate Goeree’s books.14 The fact that the translations were published in Hamburg, rather than in Amsterdam – where they could have been published either by Goeree, who published his own books, or with Elsevier – further confirms Von Zesen’s role as the driving force behind the translation project. Von Zesen had strong ties with the Hanseatic city: besides his involvement in the Deutschgesinnte Genossenschaft from 1643 onward, he married a woman from the city in 1672 (shortly after his translation of Goeree’s books); he had lived and would spend his last years there and had many Hamburg acquaintances.

Anonymous Amsterdam (city) c. 1700
Portrait of Philipp von Zesen (1619-1689), c. 1700
Amsterdam, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, inv./ 7827

Von Zesen’s involvement as a translator of Goeree’s publications was limited to the first editions of the Verlichtery-konst and the Teycken-konst. The subsequent – considerably enlarged – Dutch editions of 1670, as well as the first edition of the volume on painting, were translated in 1678 by a certain Johann Lange (and published with the same Hamburg publisher, Johann Naumann and Georg Wolf).15 Lange's principal occupation was as a physician in Hamburg, but he also translated many texts on a variety of subjects, principally from English to German. Translating appears to have been a supplementary source of income to Lange and he likely had less intellectual affinity with the content of Goeree’s books than Von Zesen. Indeed, Lange closely followed the first translation, whilst adding the new sections of Goeree’s enlarged edition.


1 Kwakkelstein 1998; Goeree 1668; Goeree 1668A; Goeree 1670; Goeree 1681; Goeree 1682.

2 Goeree 1670, ‘Aen den konst-lievenden Leser’, n.p.

3 All the Dutch editions as well as the German and English translations refer to Ter Brugghen’s treatise on the title page.

4 The Dutch edition of Junius’ treatise is an extended version of the earlier Latin (De pictura veterum, 1637) and English (The Painting of the Ancients, 1638) editions.

5 As Kwakkelstein has illustrated, Goeree made ample use of Leonardo da Vinci and sometimes refers to other authors as well (Kwakkelstein 1997; Kwakkelstein 1998 and Miedema 1999).

6 Verlichtery-konst: reprinted in Middelburg (1670, enlarged) and Amsterdam (1697; 1705); Teycken-Konst: reprinted in Middelburg (1670, enlarged) and Amsterdam (1697; 1705; 1739; 1749); Schilder-Konst: reprinted in Amsterdam (1697; 1705) and Brugge (1770); Ontwerp der Menschkunde: reprinted in Amsterdam (1697; 1704; 1730; 1753); Algmeene Bouwkunde: reprinted in Amsterdam (1705).

7 The Verlichtery-konst and Teycken-Konst first appeared in German in 1669 and in English in 1674 (bound in one volume). The Schilder-Konst was first published in German in 1678.

8 Goeree 1669 and Goeree 1669A.

9 Von Zesen has been the subject of extensive research, for some recent publications: Bergengruen/Martin 2008, and the introduction to the 18-volume Sämtliche Werke (ed. Van Ingen): Van Ingen 2013. Zesen was raised to the German nobility in 1653, thus changing his name into Von Zesen.

10 In Goeree 1669, he wrote: ‘Geschrieben in des Grafenhage am 1 tage des Offermohndes in 1669 jahre.’ (end of the dedication); in Goeree 1669A: ‘Geschrieben zu Amsterdam am 7 tage des Offermohndes im 1669 heiljahre.’ (end of the dedication). Apparently, Von Zesen moved between The Hague and Amsterdam and was working simultaneously on both translations.

11 Von Zesen 1664.

12 Schielein 2002 (principally on Von Zesen’s contribution to the juridical language).

13 Herz 2008; Schielein 2002, p. 14-15.

14 Claudine Moulin (Universität Trier) is working on a paper on Von Zesen’s translations of Goeree (written communication, September 2017). Since I am not a specialist in historical linguistics, I have decided to refrain from analyzing Von Zesen’s choice of words in his translations of Goeree.

15 Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 1883.

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