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BRODER MATTHIESEN (d.1666)
  • BRODER MATTHIESEN (d.1666)

    PORTRAIT OF A MAN

    Signed & dated in plate u.r. B. Math. f. 1644

    Etching on laid paper, trimmed to plate (thread margins)

    Plate: 10 x 7 cm | 27 x 26 cm [Framed]

     

    PROVENANCE:

    Craigie Atchison, C.B.E., R.S.A., R.A., (1926–2009);

    His studio sale, Fielding, Birmingham, 27.04.2013 [unknown lot no.];

    Private collection, Cornwall

     

     

    This extremely rare print, which is not referenced in Brulliot, Füssli or Müller, corresponds in both style and in the manner of the signature (also dated 1644) to another print - also in a very Rembrandt-esque style - described in Hollstein, vol. 11 [1954], p. 263. An example of that work can be found in the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (inv. no. KKSgb10707).

     

     

    The first documented mention of Broder Matthiesen, sometimes called Broderus, is from 1637, when he is mentioned as a painter working in Flensburg, a Northern German town in Schleswig-Holstein. He was active in that town until 1642, when he appears in the civic records of Husum (Holstein), registered as a brewer and yeast-producer; however, from 1645 onwards, he appears to have been some sort of art transporter, delivering paintings to the court in Gottorf. He moved to that town in 1651, having been appointed court painter, and remained there for 8 years before returning to his hometown for several years. 

     

    The main body of evidence for Matthiesen’s activity dates from 1659 onwards, shortly after he was appointed court painter to the Elector, in Berlin, with a considerable salary of 200 Thaler per annum, and free board and lodging for both him and an apprentice. How Matthiesen came to the attention of the Elector, let alone how he was given such a prestigious role in spite of such a relative paucity of extant artworks attributable to him today, remains an intriguing mystery. 

     

    Like many artists appointed to such a role, his duties extended beyond the creation of artworks for his patron: Matthiesen was responsible for maintenance of the entire inventory of paintings in the Elector’s collection, including their restoration; for tutoring members of the court who wished to learn the basics of draughtsmanship; and no doubt for assisting in the purchasing and selection of new acquisitions for the Elector. Matthiesen remained in the job for just two years, becoming building inspector to the Duchess Marie Elisabeth  of Saxonyat Husum Castle in 1661, just after the Duchess had been widowed. Her household at Husum swiftly became known as a major centre for culture in Northern Germany, and it is interesting to see then that Matthiesen was an integral element of this small but influential retinue.

     

     

    Matthiesen's surviving works are few, and include only paintings and the one aforementioned etching. A very fine portrait by Matthiesen of the Polish general Stefan Czarniecki is now in the collection of the Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, Warsaw; another of Hinrich Blome is in the Städtisches Museum Flensburg, Flensburg (inv. no. 22050); a portrait of Matthiesen's patron the Duchess Marie Elisabeth and another ofFrederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp are in the National Museum of Sweden (inv. nos. NMGrh 1300 & NMGrh 37 respectively); a large vanitas still life can be found in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (inv. no. 1996.A); and another vanitas in much the same style is in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (inv. no. KMSst538). A handful of further portraits and still lives are in smaller German museum collections. 

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