Abraham Rutgers (Amsterdam 1632 - 1699 Amsterdam) Landscape with a fortification

Abraham Rutgers was born in 1632 as the youngest son of David Rutgers and Susanna Flines. In 1659 he married the ten year younger Anna van Hoeck who died in 1674 during childbirth. Abraham, a slik merchant by profession, was an amateur draughtsman or dilettante and close friend of Jacob Esselens (1627/28-1687). He was self-taught and later may have been educated by his friend and fellow merchant Esselens and influenced by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) which explains why drawings by Rutgers sometimes have been confused with Johannes Leupenius (1643-1693) and Philips Koninck (1619-1688). Rutgers had the custody of Esselens's children after his death in 1687 which shows the close friendship between both artists.[1][2] For one drawing, now in the collection Albertina, Vienna, Ludolf Backhuysen (1630-1708) drew the figures.[3]

Very characteristic for drawings by Rutgers are his idiosyncratic strong diagonal compositional elements creating a powerful and deep vanishing perspective which is clearly visible in both of our recently discovered red chalk drawings. The somewhat clumsy figures are characteristic for Rutgers and show great similarity with the figures found in most of his drawings. Museum Mr. Simon van Gijn, Dordrecht preserves a vellum binding which contains 88 drawings by Rutgers titled 88 Tekeninge door Abraham Rutgers getekent Ao 1686 en 1687 zynde Principale, Inventive & Copijen. Principale being drawings drawn after nature, inventive fantasy landscapes and copijen being copies after artists like Esselens and other contemporaries.][4][5]

The present drawing with fortification and walkway is beyond doubt a Principale (drawn after life). The landscape shows travellers in the distance on the left and a man and his dog in the foreground, a rower on the right closes the composition. The long casts of shadows on the figure and cattle on the left reveal to us the drawing must have been drawn during the evening, shortly prior to the end of the day. Although we haven't yet been able to localize the fortification, most probably the drawing depicts a (lost) fortification in the surroundings of Hinderdam or Weesp, which corresponds perfectly with locations situated along the river Vecht between Amsterdam and Utrecht where Rutgers owned the country seat Hoge Vegt/Hoogevecht (demolished c. 1830). Abraham bought the property in 1682 from Antonio Alvares Machado (alias Jacob de Mercado; 1643-1706), a Portuguese-Jewish merchant who made a fortune supplying Stadhouder Willem III (1650-1702) with bread for his army of 30,000 Dutch troops during the Forty Years’ War with the French (1672-1712). The gardens to Hoogevecht were probably designed by Daniël Marot I (1661/64-1752). Abraham's older brother David Rutgers III (1629-1706), a vervet and silk merchant who married Margaretha Blok, was his neighbour and owned Groenevecht which was built by their father and inherited by David. Both Hoogevecht and Groenevecht were located the Zandpad, between Maarsseveen and Breukelen, Hoogevecht at no. 27 and Groenevecht at no. 37. Many familly members of Abraham's wife Anna lived near the river Vecht, thus providing multiple locations for drawing activities.[6]

Both our drawings should be dated between 1680 and 1690 (the drawing Landscape with castle and Roman sarcophagi bears the watermark Coat of arms of Amsterdam, ca. 1680-1690) and the dimensions of both drawings closely correspond to the dimensions of the vast majority of recorded drawings by Rutgers. The watermark has been recorded frequently in drawings by Rutgers, just like in the De Rommelpott van Hoorn drawing we sold recently.[7]

Red chalk drawings by Rutgers are of greatest scarcity as only twelve drawings by the artist in this medium have been recorded, including our two sheets.[8][9][10][11][12]

A warm thanks to Gerrit Keunen for discussing the topography with me.[13]

[1] Mejuffrouw Dr. I.H. van Eeghen, 'Abraham en Antoni Rutgers: de kunstzin van grootvader en kleinzoon', Jaarboek Amstelodamum 67 (1975), p. 174-188.

[2] J.W. Niemeijer, 'Varia Topografica IV Een album met Utrechtse gezichten door Abraham Rutgers', Oud-Holland 79 (1964,) p. 127-129.

[3] Abraham Rutgers and Ludolf Backhuysen, Two ice skaters on a frozen moat with a view of the Vecht.
Albertina, Vienna, inv. no. 10015.

[4] Museum Simon van Gijn, Dordrecht , inv./cat.nr SIK 10.
(inventorynumber for the complete sketchbook).

[5] Marijn Schapelhouman and Peter Schatborn, Tekeningen van Oude Meesters, De verzameling Jacobus A. Klaver. Waanders, Zwolle, 1993. P. 186-191, cat. nrs. 87-89.

[6] J. Shoaf Turner, 2019, 'Abraham Rutgers, Trekschuit (Tug-Boat) alongside the Artist’s Country Estate ‘Hoogevecht’ / recto: Landscape with Two Fishermen alongside a Road, Maarssen, c. 1682 - c. 1699', in J. Turner (ed.), Dutch Drawings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum, online coll. cat. Amsterdam. inv. no. RP-T-1888-A-1430X(V)

[7] Abraham Rutgers (Amsterdam, 1632 - 1699), De Rommelpott van Hoorn.
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, 162 x 206 mm.
Titled verso in pen and brown ink De Rommelpott van Hoorn
Watermark: Coat of arms of Amsterdam (ca. 1680-1690).

[8] Abraham Rutgers, River view with a mill on the left, a rowing boat in the forground.
Leiden University Libraries, inv. no. PK-T-9303.

[9] Abraham Rutgers, River area between trees, on the right a sailing ship, on the left a boat, in the background a tower.
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, inv. no. 3042

[10] Abraham Rutgers, River scene.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 06.1042.14

[11] Abraham Rutgers, River scene.
Whereabouts unknown

[12] Abraham Rutgers, Two vellum bindings with a total of 130 drawings (of which six in red chalk).
Bubb Kuyper, Haarlem, 1 June 2018, lot. 5996

[13] Correspondence by phone and e-mail, 7, 13, 17 and 21 February 2024.

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