Collaboration of Dirck Wyntrack and Joris van der Haagen

While researching the archives, Bredius came across the names of many painters whose work was either little, or not known at all. Whenever he came across a picture by one of these artists he would try to purchase it, thereby rescuing many painters from oblivion. Among these was the landscapist Joris van der Haagen, now a highly esteemed artist, and the fowl painter Dirck Wyntrack.

At a time when the rest of Europe was in a state of turmoil, the Dutch Republic was enjoying a Golden Age. Artists migrated from far and wide to the free provinces in search of spiritual and economic salvation. As a result there were more painters in seventeenth-century Netherlands than ever before, and in this competitive climate they had to develop distinctive talents. Artists started specialising in specific genres – landscape, still life or portraiture, for instance – and by constantly pursuing the same subject they attained a high level of technical mastery. Within these specialisms there were further refinements. Some still-life specialists, for example, almost exclusively painted dead fish, whereas others perfected the rendering of flowers, asparagus, cooking utensils or dead game. This became, as it were, their trademark.

Two super specialists
Geese and Ducks at a Forest Mere serves as a striking example of this kind of specialization. Indeed it is the product of a collaboration between two super specialists, Dirck Wyntrack and Joris van der Haagen. Wyntrack had concentrated on the representation of entvogelen (the seventeenth-century Dutch word for duck and other waterfowl) and there were very few artists as skilled at it as he. The birds in this picture reveal the artist¡¦s fidelity to nature.

The goose in the centre is apparently started by a noise and is raising the alarm by flapping its wings. The feathers have been rendered with great precision, and the bird¡¦s head with its beady eyes and open beak is remarkably life-like. Wyntrack¡¦s handling of light and shade beautifully suggests the goose¡¦s rounded body. The other goose and ducks are also depicted in naturalistic poses, indicating that the painter must have made a close study of the behaviour of waterfowl.

Wyntrack left the painting of the landscape to a specialist in that field, Joris van der Haagen, who was the leading landscapist of the time in The Hague. Despite the fact that two artists worked on the picture there is no lack of cohesion, animals and landscape forming an harmonious whole. In his treatment of the forest, Van der Haagen has used a subdued palette of green and brown hues that serves to accentuate the bright colours of the waterfowl. And the lower part of the trees has been deliberately left dark so as to form a perfect foil for the outspread wings of the central goose.

On closer inspection, however, the two different hands can be clearly distinguished. In contrast to Wyntrack¡¦s precise painterly style, Van der Haagen has a more freely brushed technique. The leaves of the trees and bushes, in particular, have been laid in with rapid brushstrokes, while the reflections in the water are almost impressionistic. Stylistic comparison with other works by Van der Haagen reveals that the master painted the grass in the foreground as well as the forest in the background. Wyntrack and Van der Haagen regularly worked together and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht has a large canvas of A Fox Hunting Ducks which bears the names of both artists: D. Wyntrack et Verhaege fe. 1652.

Two artists, two pictures
The Bredius Museum can help us ascertain which part of the picture is executed by Wyntrack and which by Van der Haagen. Its magnificent collection has two paintings that can serve as comparison: Ducks in a Landscape (cat. no. 190) by Dirck Wyntrack and Pasture with Cattle in the Woods (cat. no. 64) by Van der Haagen. Although the catalogue lists the former as being entirely by Wyntrack, it is now thought that Van der Haagen may have collaborated on this work. The trees, the landscape and the reflection in the water show traces of the impasto and brushy technique that Van der Haagen used in his landscapes. However, the rather poor condition of the painting makes it difficult to reach a conclusive verdict. The other picture used in the comparison, Pasture with Cattle in the Woods reveals a similar technique. Moreover this painting is also the product of a collaboration between two painters. Bredius himself observed that the cattle were painted by Paulus Potter.

When Bredius was researching the archives he unearthed many details about the lives of Dirck Wyntrack and Joris van der Haagen. He published the inventory of Wyntrack¡¦s estate in his seven-volume Künstler Inventare (The Hague 1915-1922), and wrote an article on Joris van der Haagen¡¦s financial position in Oud Holland (1917). Bredius filed away his smaller discoveries, which often remained unpublished. His card-index system is kept by the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) in The Hague and still forms a rich source for anyone researching into seventeenth-century painters.

(before 1625 – 1678 The Hague)

It is not known with any certainty when and where Dirck Wyntrack was born. However we do know that around 1646 he married Geertrui Pietersdr. Montagne, a sister-in-law of the painter Ludolf de Jongh. In 1651 he is mentioned in Gouda and he settled in The Hague around 1657. His move to The Hague was prompted by his appointment as ¡¥Clercq ter Secretarie van de Edele Grootmogende Staten van Holland en Westfriesland¡¦ (Clerk to the Secretary of the Honourable Sovereign States of Holland and West Friesland). From then on painting became a sideline. His dated works are from the period 1642-1670. Wyntrack regularly collaborated with other artists, such as Jan Wijnants, Meindert Hobbema and particularly his fellow townsman Joris van der Haagen. He died in 1678 at his house on Delft Wagenveer in The Hague.

(c. 1615 – 1669 The Hague)

Joris van der Haagen grew up in Arnhem. After the death of his father, the painter Abraham van der Haagen, he moved to The Hague in 1639. In 1643 he joined the Hague painters¡¦ guild in which he served in several high-ranking positions. One year later Joris was made a burgher of the city. He left the guild in 1656 and together with a colleague founded the painters¡¦ confraternity Confrerie Pictura. Van der Haagen was a painter and draughtsman of landscapes, particularly wooded landscapes, topographical views and broad panoramas. In addition to Dirck Wyntrack, he collaborated with many other painters including Paulus Potter, Ludolf de Jongh, Jan Wijnants and Nicolaes Berchem.

    Joris van der Haagen and Paulus Potter

    (Enkhuizen 1625 - 1654 Amsterdam)

    Pasture with Cattle in the Woods

    Signed JHagen (bottom left, on tree)
    Panel, 49.5 x 60 cm
    Bredius Museum, The Hague

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    Dirck Wyntrack and Joris van der Haagen

    The Hague before 1625 - 1678 The Hague and The Hague c. 1615 - 1669 The Hague

    Geese and Ducks at a Forest Lake

    Panel, 73 x 57.5 cm
    Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder, The Hague

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    Dirck Wyntrack and Joris van der Haagen

    A Fox Hunting Ducks

    Signed D. Wyntrack et Verhaege fe. 1652
    Canvas, 165 x 215 cm
    Centraal Museum, Utrecht

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    Dirck Wyntrack

    Ducks in a Landscape

    Signed Wyntrack (bottom right)
    Panel, 47 x 59 cm
    Bredius Museum, The Hague

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