Het Gulden Cabinet  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Golden Cabinet of the Noble Free Art of Painting, or Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const, as it was originally known in Dutch, is a series of artist biographies and panegyrics with engraved portraits written by the 17th century notary and rederijker Cornelis de Bie. This work is considered to be a very important source of information on 17th century Southern Netherlandish artists and was later used as a source by the art historians such as Arnold Houbraken and Jacob Campo Weyerman. It was published in 1662, although the work also mentions 1661 as date of publication. Het Gulden Cabinet is part of the Basic Library of the dbnl (Database of Dutch Literature) which contains the 1000 most important works in Dutch literature from the Middle Ages to today.


Background and influence

Het Gulden Cabinet is an important work in a long standing tradition of artist biographies. This tradition goes back to PlinyTemplate:Dn, but was most important during the Renaissance. In 1550, the Italian Giorgio Vasari published his Vite and Karel van Mander was the first author to introduce this genre in the Dutch language with his Schilder-boeck of 1604. Cornelis de Bie explicitly places himself in the tradition of Van Mander, but wants to give an updated version of the work.

The concept of Het Gulden Cabinet did not come from Cornelis de Bie himself, but rather from the Antwerp publisher Jan Meyssen. In 1649, Meyssen had already published Image de divers hommes in imitation of Anthony van Dyck's Iconography. Most of the portraits in Het Gulden Cabinet had, in fact, previously been published in this Image de divers hommes and few new engravings were made especially for De Bie's work.

In his work, De Bie clearly presents himself as a rederijker whose duty it is to broadcast the fame of the artists. In this, he puts himself in a tradition of which also Alexander van Fornenbergh is an exponent.

The work is divided into three parts, the first of which deals with artists who had died before De Bie's time and this part relies heavily on Van Mander's work. The second part deals with artists living at the time of De Bie and is mostly based on original research by De Bie and on the comments added to the engravings. The third part deals with living sculptors and other artists who had been omitted in the first two parts.


Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part I


Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part II


Artists in Het Gulden Cabinet, Part III


Second edition

De Bie seems to have planned a second edition of the work, but this was never published. A personal manuscript of De Bie is still extant in the Royal Library of Belgium. In this manuscript he clearly mentions his plan to have the second edition published. This manuscript is dated in 1672. The reason why it never happened is unclear, although the publisher of the first edition, Jan Meyssen had died in 1670 and it is plausible that he did not find another publisher.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Het Gulden Cabinet" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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