Art at Auction in 17th Century Amsterdam

By John Michael Montias | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Art Collectors and Painters IV:
Jan van Maerlen and His Extended
Family

Of all the private buyers selected in the second part of this book, the jeweler Jan van Maerlen is the only one who was both a buyer at Orphan Chamber sales (in 1612 and 1613) and had his collection sold at Orphan Chamber auction after his death (in 1637). Our interest in the Van Maerlen family is heightened by its extensive ties with collectors and artist-painters through several successive generations. In the appendix to this chapter, I analyze the sale of the works of art he possessed by categories of buyers.

Jan van Maerlen’s father, named Dirck van Maerlen, was born in Grave in the Southern Netherlands around 1540. He migrated to Antwerp in his youth and became a citizen of the city in 1567. He practiced the liberal profession of attorney. The next year, he married Christina van Mansdale.677 Many years later, one of Jan van Maerlen’s daughters would marry David van Mansdaelen who certainly belonged to the same prominent Antwerp family as her grandmother. Jan van Maerlen, born in Breda around 1570, became a jeweler in Antwerp. He migrated to Amsterdam some time before December 1598 when he was betrothed in the Town Hall to Maria Sijbrechts van Ghils.

Jan’s brother, the painter Jonas van Maerlen, also probably migrated to Amsterdam in the last years of the sixteenth century. On July 4, 1603, he was betrothed to Catelijne Gillis van Conincxloo, the daughter of the landscape painter Gillis van Conincxloo, who had migrated from Antwerp, first to Middelburg, then to Frankenthal, finally to reach Amsterdam in 1595. When Jonas van Maerlen bought lots at the post-mortem auction of Gillis van Conincxloo’s auction in 1607, he was said to be Van Conincxloo’s apprentice. At some point, however, perhaps shortly after his master’s death, Jonas became a full-fledged master in the Guild of St. Luke of Amsterdam.678 A year or two after the sale, Jonas took advantage of the Truce in the War with Spain to return to Antwerp. In 1608, he sold his house on the Breestraat to the uitdraagster Barber Jacobs, the mother of Pieter Lastman. This was the house in which Rembrandt would study painting with Lastman many years later.679

Jonas apparently did not do well in Antwerp. He died some time between 1609 and 1614, leaving his widow in very poor circumstances. By February 1610, Catelijne was back in Amsterdam to witness the baptism of Joannes, a son of her

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