JACOB VAN DER ULFT (1627-1689)
BUILDINGS NEAR THE AQUA ACETOSA, ROMAN CAMPAGNA
Inscribed verso Aqua Citola 1674
Pen & ink with wash
11 x 20.8 cm
Private Collection, Netherlands
The present view is taken from the Roman campagna, near Acqua Acetosa. The building in the foreground with the crenellated tower and thin chimneys is very similar to that in the roughly contemporary Herman van Swanevelt's 1652 etching, Veduto daqua assuttosa for di Roma ('View of the Acqua Acetosa', see fourth image above). For a more closely comparable view of this edifice, Pierre Henri de Valenciennes' drawing in the Louvre, Paris, shows the same building almost unchanged a century or so later (see penultimate image). A drawing attributed to Jan de Bisschop (an attribution that seems probable) was recently sold as part of the Ullmann collection in Paris, which depicts the same edifice as in the present work, suggesting a possible source for this sheet also (View of a castle in Italy, sold at Beaussant-Lefèvre, 11.02.2022, Lot 284, see 7th image above). Finally, a very closely comparable drawing by van der Ulft, showing what appears either to be the same building or one very like it, was sold at Galerie Gerda Bassenge, Berlin, 29.11.2012, lot 6370 (see penultimate image).
Jacob van der Ulft was an amateur draughtsman and painter, though he was evidently well-trained in both fields and was remarkably prolific for a non-professional artist of this period. We know that he was the Burgomaster of Gorkum (Gorinchem, South Holland) between 1660-1679, and that he was the son of the glass painter Abraham Albertsz and Neeske Reyniers. He married Helena Willemsdr. de Wijn in Gorinchem 1643, becoming an uncle by marriage to the artist Peeter Bolckman. Arnold Houbraken, the seminal biographer of Dutch artists of the 17th century, stated that Van der Ulft had in fact never been to Italy; however, he wrote that the artist painted ‘Roman or Italian views…and did so in such a way that (although he had never been to Rome) people who had travelled in Italy recognised the same at first glance’.
Van der Ulft’s oeuvre comprised paintings in oil & gouache and a large number of drawings in his distinctive brown ink & wash. These drawings are closely related to those of Jan de Bisschop, who had learned to draw from Bartholomeus Breenbergh, and it is known that many of them are indeed copies of de Bisschop’s works. Peter Schatborn writes, ‘De Bisschop's drawings, etchings and printing plates were sold at auction on 10 February 1677. It is possible that Van der Ulft acquired his drawings on this occasion and subsequently used them as models; however the two men could also have worked together earlier.’ 
 P. Schatborn, Drawn to Warmth: 17th-century Dutch artists in Italy (exhib. cat.), Amsterdam (2001), English trans. Lynne Richards