Pieter van Laer  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pieter van Laer (or Pieter Bodding van Laer) (Christened 14 December 1599 – c. 1642) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre scenes, active for over a decade in Rome, where his nickname was Il Bamboccio. Artists working in his style became known as the Bamboccianti.


He was born at Haarlem in Holland as the second child of Jacob Claesz Bodding and Magdalena Heyns. He came from a well to do family and his parents operated a private school in Haarlem started by Magdalena's father, the well known writer and publisher Peeter Heyns, after whom Pieter van Laer was named. His older brother was Roedolff van Laer, who later also would become a painter and was known as Roeland van Laer or Orlando van Laer. His youngest brother was Nicolaes Bodding, lateron in life known as Nicolaes Boddingius, a schoolmaster and Reverend. The influence of a long stay in Rome starting in 1625 is seen in his treatment of landscape and backgrounds, but in his subjects he remained true to the Dutch tradition, choosing generally lively scenes from peasant life. He painted markets, feasts, bowling scenes, farriers' shops, robbers, hunting scenes and peasants with cattle. From this taste, or from his personal deformity, he was nicknamed Il Bamboccio by the Italians. The painters influenced by his genre style were called the Bamboccianti after his nickname, and included Andries Both and his brother Jan, Michelangelo Cerquozzi, the French Hugenot Sebastien Bourdon, and Jan Miel. He was also a member of the Bentvueghels, a society of mostly Dutch-speaking artists in Rome known for their anti-academic stance and initiation rituals. Among the other artists that worked with or under van Laer, one can include John Phillip Lemke.

On his return to Holland about 1639, he lived chiefly at Amsterdam and Haarlem, in which latter city he died around 1642.

His pictures are marked by skilful composition and good drawing; he was especially careful in perspective. His colouring, according to Crowe, is "generally of a warm, brownish tone, sometimes very clear, but oftener heavy, and his execution broad and spirited." Certain etched plates are also attributed to him.

While his style of painting was openly disdained by pre-eminent Italian painters in Rome and Bologna, such as Sacchi, Albani, and Reni, this did not translate into a poverty of commissions. In fact, van Laer paintings over time became highly sought after. Initially, the painter must have depended on an open market and dealers, rather than commissions for sales; however, within a decade of work in Rome, he could ask a very respectable 30-35 scudi per painting. Among those owning his work were Pietro Testa, Cassiano dal Pozzo, the marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, and later, the Flemish merchant in Naples Gaspar Roomer. Van Laer was to dedicate a series of engravings to Don Ferdinando Afan de Ribera, the Spanish Viceroy in Naples (Haskell 135-6).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pieter van Laer" 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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