You are here: Home 3. Gerson Digital: Denmark - Horst Gerson annotated by Rieke van Leeuwen 3.5b The Kronborg paintings
Document Actions

3.5b The Kronborg paintings

Simon de Passe was in the Dutch Republic in 1637 to assign the commissions for the sketches, and he returned two years later to distribute the more important and valuable orders for the paintings. It was no doubt the largest foreign commission that had ever come the way of Utrecht painters. As Crispijn de Passe II was not a painter, his designs had to be executed by other artists. In general the choice of artists did not correspond precisely to those represented in the Copenhagen sketchbook. Other painters, even non-Utrecht ones, now became involved. Thus, in the end, sundry paintings expected to cost between 400 and 500 guilders each were ordered from Adriaen van Nieulandt (c. 1586/87-1658), Salomon Koninck (1609-1656), Nicolaes Knüpfer (c. 1609-1655), Claes Moeyaert (1591-1655), Isaac Isaacsz (1598-1649) and Simon Peter Tilman (1601-1668).5

Gerard van Honthorst asked for more money. No fewer than 37,500 guilders were promised to him for 25 history paintings, a truly princely sum!6 Honthorst’s art was no longer unknown in Denmark. A few years before, in 1635, he had rendered four ceiling paintings with scenes from Heliodorus’ Aethiopica [i][i][i][i] and four medallions with guardian spirits, containing the monogram of Christian IV (later changed to that of Christian V) [i][i][i][i].7

X
Gerard van Honthorst, Theagenes and Chariclea fall in love in Delphi during the Pythian Games (Heliodorus' Aethiopica' book 3), 1634/1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Theagenes and Chariclea fall in love in Delphi during the Pythian Games (Heliodorus' Aethiopica' book 3) 1634/1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Theagenes receives the winner's crown from Chariclea (Heliodorus, Aethiopica), 1634/1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Theagenes receives the winner's crown from Chariclea (Heliodorus, Aethiopica) 1634/1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, The wounded Theagenes and the desperate Charicleia found on the beach by pirates (Heliodorus, Aethiopica, book 1, first scene), in or before 1635

Gerard van Honthorst
The wounded Theagenes and the desperate Charicleia found on the beach by pirates (Heliodorus, Aethiopica, book 1, first scene) in or before 1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Chariclea is recognized by her parents, 1634/1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Chariclea is recognized by her parents 1634/1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Flying cupids with the monograms of Frederik II and Queen Sophie, parents of King Christian IV of Denmark, dated 1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Flying cupids with the monograms of Frederik II and Queen Sophie, parents of King Christian IV of Denmark dated 1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
bottom (positional attribute) :  GHonthorst fe 1635
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Flying cupids with King Christian IV's monogram, dated 1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Flying cupids with King Christian IV's monogram dated 1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Cupids with Queen Anne Catherine's monogram, 1634/1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Cupids with Queen Anne Catherine's monogram 1634/1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Cupids with Heir Apparent and Magdalena Sibylla's monograms, 1634/1635

Gerard van Honthorst
Cupids with Heir Apparent and Magdalena Sibylla's monograms 1634/1635
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



Those are the only paintings of the castle’s original decorative scheme that are still in their original location. Everything else that was not nailed down was carried off by the Swedes in 1658.8 Many history paintings of the Utrecht School which once graced Kronborg are now found in Skokloster Castle, which belongs to the heirs of general Carl Gustav Wrangel (1613-1676) [i], and in other Swedish collections.9

X
David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, Equestrian portrait of Count Carl Gustav Wrangel, Marshall of the Realm (1613-1676), dated 1652

David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
Equestrian portrait of Count Carl Gustav Wrangel, Marshall of the Realm (1613-1676) dated 1652
oil paint / canvas, 309 x 316 cm
Skoklosters slott, Skoklosters slott (Håbo), no. 698




No fewer than nine works can be attributed to Honthorst,

X
Gerard van Honthorst, Cavalry battle, dated 1643

Gerard van Honthorst
Cavalry battle dated 1643
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Drottningholm Slott, Drottningholm




X
Gerard van Honthorst, King Albrecht hands over the Swedish crown to Queen Margaret I in 1389, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
King Albrecht hands over the Swedish crown to Queen Margaret I in 1389 c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 247 x 504 cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Christian I meets prince Maximilian at Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1474, dated 1643

Gerard van Honthorst
Christian I meets prince Maximilian at Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1474 dated 1643
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
center right :  G. Honthorst 1643
Private collection



X
Gerard van Honthorst, King Hans at the battle of Rotebro before Stockholm in 1497, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
King Hans at the battle of Rotebro before Stockholm in 1497 c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 290 x 288 cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør, no. 423




X
Gerard van Honthorst, Frederik I at the siege in Copenhagen in 1523, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
Frederik I at the siege in Copenhagen in 1523 c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 274 x 286 cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Battle at a bridge close fight between the Cimbri and the Romans, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
Battle at a bridge close fight between the Cimbri and the Romans c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 305 x 350 cm
bottom (positional attribute) :  G. Honthorst
Private collection



X
Gerard van Honthorst, King Frode Fredegod of Denmark hailed by many kings, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
King Frode Fredegod of Denmark hailed by many kings c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 281 x 331 cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør, no. 428



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Harald Klak and his family are baptized in Mainz, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
Harald Klak and his family are baptized in Mainz c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 228 x 481 cm
Private collection



X
Gerard van Honthorst, Fridlev, the son of King Frode III, kills a dragon, c. 1640

Gerard van Honthorst
Fridlev, the son of King Frode III, kills a dragon c. 1640
oil paint / canvas, 310 x 310 cm
Private collection



as well as three10 to Isaac Isaacsz [i] and a few each to Claes Moeyaert [i][i], Salomon Koninck [i] and Adriaen van Nieulandt [i]. No picture is dated later than 1643, so that we may assume that the work had been concluded by then. Even so, it seems unlikely that the commission orchestrated by Simon de Passe, with its more than 80 pictures, was carried out in full [i][i].11 The payment did not proceed quickly either, for in 1646 Moeyaert still had to receive 800 guilders from the Danish king. In any case, nothing came of the production of engravings by Simon de Passe. His heirs requested the return of the copper plates and pictures from his estate, wanting to sell everything in Utrecht. We may therefore assume that the king had yet to pay for them, or his heirs would not have had any right to ask for the return of these works.

X
Isaac Isaacsz., Harold Klak is received by emperor Ludwig in 826, dated 1640

Isaac Isaacsz.
Harold Klak is received by emperor Ludwig in 826 dated 1640
oil paint / canvas, 163,5 x 345 cm
below, right of the middle :  Isaac Isaacsen Fecit Ao 1640
Skoklosters slott, Skoklosters slott (Håbo), no. 1954




X
Claes Moeyaert, The funeral of a heathen king, dated 1643

Claes Moeyaert
The funeral of a heathen king dated 1643
oil paint / canvas, 162 x 341 cm
lower left :  C[....] Mo[.]yaert 1643
Skoklosters slott, Skoklosters slott (Håbo), no. 3633




X
Claes Moeyaert, The baptism of Harald Bluetooth

Claes Moeyaert
The baptism of Harald Bluetooth (1637 - 1643)
oil paint / canvas, 194 x 373 cm
Östra Ryds kyrka, Uppland




X
Salomon Koninck, The royal double betrothals or nupitials of 1502, c. 1642

Salomon Koninck
The royal double betrothals or nupitials of 1502 c. 1642
oil paint / canvas, 165 x 345 cm
Salomon Koninck f.
Skoklosters slott, Skoklosters slott (Håbo), no. 1955




X
Adriaen van Nieulandt, Radulph outwits the Wends at Roskilde, dated 1643

Adriaen van Nieulandt
Radulph outwits the Wends at Roskilde dated 1643
oil paint / canvas, 164,5 x 315 cm
left center :  Adriaen van Nieulandt Anno 1643
Skoklosters slott, Skoklosters slott (Håbo), no. 1953



X
Simon Peter Tilman  after Simon de Passe, Pagan procession, dated 1641

Simon Peter Tilman  after Simon de Passe
Pagan procession dated 1641
oil paint / canvas, 252 x 370 cm
Simon Petrus Tilman / 1641
Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Stockholm, no. NM 4573



X
Simon Peter Tilman  free after Simon de Passe, The Cimbrians defeating the Romans, dated 1641

Simon Peter Tilman  free after Simon de Passe
The Cimbrians defeating the Romans dated 1641
oil paint / canvas, 240 x 320 cm
Simon Petrus Tilman / Ao 1641
Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Stockholm, no. NM 4576



At approximately the same time as Honthorst, an indigenous painter must have worked on the ceiling paintings in Kronborg Castle. In any case, one Morten van Steenwinckel (1595-1646) was paid in 1634 for ten pictures in the queen’s chamber in Kronborg, which may still be seen there:

X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Mars, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Mars c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Jupiter, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Jupiter c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Apollo, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Apollo c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Diana, ca, 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Diana ca, 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Dawn, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Dawn c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Night, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Night c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Neptune, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Neptune c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Venus, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Venus c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Saturn, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Saturn c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør




X
Morten van Steenwinckel, Mercurius, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
Mercurius c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, ? x ? cm
Kronborg Slot, Helsingør



They are decidedly weaker and more antiquated than Honthorst’s paintings in the adjacent room. Steenwinckel had also been to Italy and studied Caravaggio’s work, but the result of all this study does not justify the admiration that contemporaries lavished on his naturalistic depictions. If we believe Sandrart, Steenwinckel was able to paint horses so deceptively that they were neighed at by living animals [i][i][i].12 I do not believe that Steenwinckel’s horses on the Kronborg ceiling ever heard live specimen neighing at them.13 Steenwinckel, the court painter of Prince Christian, was not a Dutchman, as one often reads. He was born in the Province of Halland [now in Sweden] as son of an Antwerp architect.14

X
Morten van Steenwinckel, King Christian IV (1577-1648) and the Prince Elect on horseback, c. 1634

Morten van Steenwinckel
King Christian IV (1577-1648) and the Prince Elect on horseback c. 1634
oil paint / canvas, 266 x 351 cm
Private collection




X
Karel van  Mander (III)  and Morten van Steenwinckel, Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark, ca. 1643

Karel van  Mander (III)  and Morten van Steenwinckel
Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark ca. 1643
oil paint / canvas, 315 x 315 cm
Stiftung Schloss Eutin, Eutin




X
Karel van  Mander (III)  and Morten van Steenwinckel, Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark, c. 1643

Karel van  Mander (III)  and Morten van Steenwinckel
Equestrian portrait of King Christian IV (1577-1648) of Denmark c. 1643
oil paint / canvas, 310 x 280 cm
The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerød, no. A 2741





[5]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] A large painting by Knüpfer for the series, The Battle of Volmer, was consumed by flames in the fire at the Castle of Copenhagen in 1794 (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988, p. 60). The Utrecht archives have a contract dated 6 August 1639 in which Tilman undertakes to paint 10 pieces for the series within two years for 500 guilders each. He was to be paid after each (partial) delivery (De Kruijf 1891A, pp. 252-254). Two of these paintings, now in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, have recently been identified (Lange 2011, p. 106-113, figs. 4 and 6, see also below). For works by Adriaen van Nieulandt, Salomon Koninck, Claes Moeyaert and Isaac Isaacsz, see below and Sluijter 2015, 'A network of moderately successful Amsterdam natives. Claes Moyaert, Adriean van Nieulandt, Isaac Isaacsz and Salomon Koninck', pp. 149-213.

[6]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] De Kruijff 1891, pp. 251-252.

[7]

[Gerson 1942/1983] Beckett 1916; [Van Leeuwen 2015] Judson/Ekkart 1999, pp. 128-132, nos. 138-145, pls. 62-69. The medaillons actually contain the monograms of 1. Christian IV, 2. his wife, Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, 3. his parents, Frederick II and Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and 4. His son, the Prince Elect Christian and his wife Magdalene Sybille of Saxony (Lassen et al. 1973, p. 201; Heiberg et al. 1988, nos. 225-232).

[8]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] The Kronborg paintings were divided between Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie (1622-1686), who certainly took nine paintings by Honthorst, and Carl Gustaf Wrangel(1613-1676), who carried off other works to Sweden (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988, p. 20). Most works are still in Sweden but three Honthorsts have returned to Kronborg (RKDimages 236448, 236444 and 236339). A fourth Honthorst (RKDimages 236374) was no longer in Kronborg in 1658 and therefore remained in Denmark.

[9]

[Gerson 1942/1983] De Kruijf 1891; Haverkorn van Rijsewijk 1892; many illustrations in Beckett 1937; Granberg 1911-1913 and Granberg 1929-1931, p. 54; Bredius 1915-1921, vol. I, pp. 264-265. – Cf. our comment below. Gudlaugsson incorrectly identified the subject of Moeyaert’s painting of 1643 (Gudlaugsson 1938, p. 62) as a scene taken from Hooft’s Bato, as was quickly refuted by Van de Waal (Van de Waal 1940, n. 107).[Van Leeuwen 2015] Paintings were not only looted by Carl Gustav Wrangel but also by Count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. In 1658 he stayed for a few months at Kronborg Castle together with King Charles X Gustav. De la Gardie and Carl Gustave Wrangel divided the war booty; De la Gardie took (at least) nine Honthorst paintings from Kronborg with him to Sweden (Schepelern/Houkjaer 1988, p. 20).

[10]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] Of the three works discussed by Gerson, only one is still given to Isaacsz. Gerson based himself on Beckett 1937 (pp. 129-131, ills. 108-109). Of the two other works, one is now attributed to Claes Moeyaert (RKDimages 236459) and another, tentatively, to Gerard van Kuijl (RKDimages 236452).

[11]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] It is assumed that only 20 to 30 paintings were executed (Schepelern/Houkjær 1988); obviously, if the king failed to pay for a partial delivery, nothing else was deliverd. Recently two paintings in the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, executed by Simon Peter Tilman, have been indentified as belonging to the series (Lange 2011, p. 106-113). Up to now, 14 paintings in Sweden and three (now) in Denmark have been identified.

[12]

[Van Leeuwen 2015] Juliette Roding attributes the horses of Karel van Mander’s equestrian portraits to Morten van Steenwinckel, see her contribution, § 4.5.2.

[13]

 [Van Leeuwen 2015] Christian IV was not satisfied with the decorative paintngs by Van Steenwinckel and threatened the artist with imprisonment in the Blue Tower of the Copenhagen castle if he refused to introduce changes. (Heiberg 1984, p. 17 and n. 11). See also Roding 2014, p. 20.

[14]

[Gerson 1942/1983] Beckett 1933-1934; [Van Leeuwen 2015] He was a son of Hans van Steenwinckel I, brother of Hans van Steenwinckel II and uncle of Antonie van Steenwinckel. See Johannsen 2013.

Datum laatste wijziging: May 20, 2016 02:42 PM