Dirck van Delen
Palace Interior with the Parable of the Rich Man and Poor Lazarus
Oil on panel. 61.6 x 73 cm.
Monogrammed and dated: DD 1626.
This work illustrates the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, which is told in the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31). We see the rich man enjoying a banquet in a palace with two ladies and two gentlemen, taking no notice of the beggar Lazarus at his door. Lazarus later goes to heaven whilst the rich man goes to hell, where he begs Lazarus to be sent to him so that he may dip his finger in water to cool his tongue (verse 24). But then it is too late to do penance and avoid eternal punishment. This biblical scene appears frequently in Dutch painting, showing how important is was to remember ones duty of charity and compassion towards the poor.
Next to nothing is known about van Delen's training as a painter, which makes this early piece especially important for the reconstruction of his artistic development. The way in which he depicts the architecture in this work betrays the influence of Vredeman de Vries and his series of engravings “Scenographiae, sive Perspectivae“. Another of van Delen's sources was probably Bartholomeus van Bassen's painting with the same motif. The entire foreground of the composition, including the dog between the vase and the wine cooler and the figures seated at the table all display the artist's knowledge of van Bassen's composition. We know that both artists met in later years, brought together by their mutual acquaintance with the art collector and hobbyist engraver Johan Huyssen van Kattendijke (1566 - 1634).
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Dirck van Delen's works, which is currently being prepared by Bernard M. Vermet.
Probably DG Van der Burgh van Kronenburg, Kronenburg, Loenen. - His sale 6.09 1824, lot 110. - Gooden and Fox, London. - Private collection Bagpath Court, Gloucestershire, 1930. - Acquired from there for an English private collection.