Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor - A Pastoral Scene
Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor
A Pastoral Scene
Oil on canvas (relined). 83 x 102 cm.
This elegant depiction of a shepherd couple was painted by the Utrecht-based painter Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor. The piece was offered on the market as a work of Abraham Bloemaert in 1975 and again in 2005. However, Peter van den Brink had already attributed it to Aelbert van der Schoor in 1994 and included it in his oeuvre, in which it can be considered a principal work.
The painting shows a pair of shepherds settled under a tree to make music. The shepherd holds a flute in his left hand and a book of sonnets lays open in his lap. He embraces the shepherdess with his right arm whilst she moves her body closer to him and gazes into his eyes. The painting seems to show a moment in which the two have interrupted their song - the girl's hand still lingers over the line she was about to sing, and the boy has lain aside his flute to return her gaze. The two figures occupy almost the entire image, the rest of the space is taken up by two sheep who graze nearby peacefully without disturbing the intimacy of the scene. The serenity of the motif is echoed in the bright lighting, the harmonious composition of the figures and the colour palette, especially the finely balanced pale blue, yellow, red and green hues of the clothing.
This work was published by McNeill Kettering in her seminal research into Dutch pastorals as an example of a full-figure depiction of shepherds of Utrecht provenance (McNeill Kettering 1974, p. 501; McNeill Kettering 1977, p. 30). The former erroneous ascription to Abraham Bloemaert was probably made simply due to this artist's importance in the development of this form of depiction in Utrecht (cf. illus. 2; Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum, Hannover). Although the Utrecht school was of central importance in popularising the pastoral genre, its roots are to be found in the Venetian school of the 16th century. It was here that the so-called “Concert Champêtre" was conceived among the circle of Titian and Giorgione.
The research of Peter van den Brink and Marten Jan Bok has allowed us to outline the artistic personality and oeuvre of Aelbert van der Schoor. The present work can be considered one of his masterpieces, and shows strong stylistic parallels to several of his - partially signed - works, for example the “Supper at Emmaus” in the Musée Municipal in Saint Amand-les-Eaux (for the attribution cf. van den Brink 1994, passim). A study for the present work also exists, in which the heads and feet of the figures are sketched (cf. ill. 1; Noortman Collection, Maastricht; cf. van den Brink 1994, p. 47, illus. 17).
Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor was born in Utrecht in 1603 and was active in this city throughout his entire career. His earliest dated work was made in 1642 and his last in 1662. His oeuvre encompasses history paintings, portraits, genre and still life paintings (both vanitas and fish still lifes). His narrative works, such as the above-mentioned Supper at Emmaus, his genre scenes of merry company and also the present work all reflect the influence of the Utrecht Carravagesques.
In accordance with the Dutch and Venetian predecessors in this style, the apparent innocence of this pastoral idyll conceals thinly veiled erotic undertones. The finger of the shepherdess indicates not only towards the open book, but also to the manhood of her music partner beneath it. The gesture with which she grips the shepherd's crook is also somewhat of a double entendre, and the seemingly arbitrary billowing of her cloak could be symbolic of a certain arousal.
Walther Bernt, Munich, 13.3.1975 (attributed to Abraham Bloemaert).
David David Inc., Philadelphia/New York, 1972 (attributed to Govert Flinck). – Auctioned by D. M. Klinger, Nuremberg, 29.11.1975, lot 901 (attributed to Abraham Bloemaert). – Private collection, Germany. – Auctioned by Hampel, Munich, 23.9.2005, lot 188 (attributed to Abraham Bloemaert). – Continental private collection.
Alison McNeil Kettering: The Batavian Arcadia. Pastoral Themes in Seventeenth Century Dutch Art. Diss. Berkley. Berkley 1974, p. 501, illus. 209. - Alison McNeil Kettering: Rembrandt´s „Flute Player“: A Unique Treatment of Pastoral. In: Simiolus, IX (1977), p. 19-44, p. 29f, illus. 15. - Peter van den Brink: Aelbert Jansz. van der Schoor, een Utrechts schilder en zijn werk. In: Oud Holland, CVIII (1994), p. 37-57, p. 37f, illus. 1; p. 56, no. 23. - Exhib. cat.: Utrecht 1993: Het gedroomde land. Pastorale schilderkunst in de Gouden Eeuw. Ed. by Peter van den Brink. Utrecht 1993, p. 114, footnote 12. - Marcel Roethlisberger & Marten Jan Bok: Abraham Bloemaert and His Sons. Paintings and Prints. Doornspijk 1993, vol. 1, p. 292.