Figures in an Italianate Landscape

Jacob VAN DER ULFT (Gorinchem, 1627 - Noordwijk, 1689)

Biography



Much of Jacob van der Ulft's surviving painted and drawn oeuvre is made up of Italianate landscapes, or antique Roman cityscapes and port scenes crowded with figures. His drawings - usually executed in pen and ink wash but also occasionally in gouache – are more highly regarded today than his relatively few surviving paintings. Van der Ulft seems to have been an amateur artist and was quite possibly self-taught, as no guild membership is recorded. Furthermore, he is known to have worked as a civil servant in (and at one time mayor of) his native city of Gorinchem. Although there are many quite specific views of Rome by the hand of the artist, many of which are inscribed and dated, it remains unclear whether van der Ulft ever actually visited Italy. The contemporary biographer Arnold Houbraken states definitively that he did not, and claims that his Roman views were based on the work of other artists. Certainly, van der Ulft was profoundly influenced by the work of another amateur artist, Jan de Bisschop (1628-1671), whose drawings approach his own in both style and handling. (It remains unknown, however, whether de Bisschop himself travelled to Rome). An album of forty-three landscape drawings by both Jacob van der Ulft and Jan de Bisschop, mostly views in or around Rome, is in the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire at Chatsworth. Another album of Roman views by van der Ulft is in the Institut Néerlandais (Fondation Custodia) in Paris.