Art at Auction in 17th Century Amsterdam

By John Michael Montias | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
Art Dealers II: Johannes de Renialme

Johannes de Renialme, who came from a distinguished family with members in Antwerp and Venice,405 may properly be called a “gentleman dealer”. As far as we know, he had no training in art. Born in Antwerp about 1600, he was a full generation younger than Lucas Luce. By the early 1620s he was noted in Middelburg, where he was still living at least as late as 1637.406 He was first married to Margriet Bartolotti, a member of that extremely wealthy family. Margriet died in or shortly before 1630. He then married Marie de Cocquel, from whom he inherited property in Ireland.407 Next he married Marie Weinrich from Delft, some time before 12 August 1640 when the couple had their son Johannes baptized in the New Church in Amsterdam.408 He was said to be “merchant in Amsterdam” in 1642.409 As his fourth and last wife, he married Catharina d’Overdaghe, widow of the rich merchant Nicolas Tristram, on the first of January 1643, in Delft.410 He joined Delft’s Guild of St. Luke as an art dealer in 1644, probably to be allowed to sell art in the city.411 He owned a house in Delft and one in Amsterdam, and divided his time between the two. He died in Amsterdam in 1657, survived by Catharina d’Overdaghe and by his sons Johannes and Constantin.

I shall now retrace De Renialme’s career in detail, concentrating on his business relations with the Amsterdam merchant Pieter Cruijpenning and, later, with Cruijpenning’s widow, Lucretia Coymans.

In the early 1630s, if De Renialme dealt in art at all, it was as a subsidiary enterprise. This is indirectly confirmed by the fact that he made his first known purchases at the Van Maerlen sale of 1637412 (even then, he bought far more jewelry at this first sale than he did art). The only works of art he bought at this sale were an untitled painting by Wtewael for the high price of 105 f, a “gilded man” for f 6:15:-- and a statue of Pallas (Athena) made of copper for f 7:15:--. These purchases pale in comparison with the jewelry he acquired: “34 Scotch pearls” for f 1,457:10:--, a diamond cross for f 272, 8 “jacinten” (perhaps rose-colored diamonds) for f 88, six diamonds for f 66, and a ring representing the four elements for f 115–, a total of almost exactly f 2,000.

By 1637, in any event, De Renialme was not only a dealer in art but a lover of painting as we can infer from a deposition of that year in which he refused to sell a painting by the landscape painter Govert Jansz. “because he first had to have his pleasure for a while longer from the painting” (if this was not only a bargaining stance).413

As far as we know, De Renialme’s long-standing relationship to Pieter Cruijpen-

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