The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House

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Bartolomeus van der Helst (1613 - 1670)
  • Place of Birth: Haarlem, The Netherlands
  • Place of Death: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Biography
Works of Art

Born in Haarlem, the son of an innkeeper, he moved with his family c.1627 to Amsterdam, where he was probably the pupil of the portrait painter N. Eliasz (called Pickenoy). His earliest dated work is of 1637 (Regents of the Walloon Orphanage; Maison Descartes, Amsterdam), and by the mid 1640s he had ousted Rembrandt as the leading portrait painter in Amsterdam, his careful attention to character and costume, smooth technique and clear colour particularly appealing to prosperous sitters. Between 1650 and 1656 he painted five regent pieces of which two,
with two civic guard pieces of 1639 and 1648, are in
the Rijksmuseum.

He died in Amsterdam where he was buried on 16 December 1670. His high reputation continued into the eighteenth century; in 1781 Reynolds considered his Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648; Rijksmuseum) as 'perhaps the first picture, of portraits in the world, comprehending more of those qualities which make a perfect portrait, than any other I have seen'.