Herman Henstenburgh (Hoorn 1667-1726 Hoorn) Stamboek drawing for Joanna Koerten Blok

Joanna Koerten Blok (1650-1715)

Born on the 17th of November 1650, Joanna Koerten (1650-1715) was the daughter of the Mennonite textile merchant Jan Koerten (1622-1651) and Ytje Cardinaels (-1691). After Jan's death Ytje married her second husband Zacharias Rosijn (-1691) in 1659. In the year her mother passed away (her stepfather passed away earlier in the same year), Joanna married the textile merchant Adriaan Blok (c. 1653-1726) in 1691. The couple remained childless.[1]

Houbraken praises the smart and industrious character of Joanna together with her artistic talents.[2] Joanna's mother and (step)father encouraged her to further develop her crafts on textileworks, making music, engraving, wax casting and above all the art of paper- and silhouette cutting. Her exceptional skills were praised als der Schilderen Penceel (as having been painted). Lovingly encouraged by her husband Adriaan, Joanna would become (one of) the foremost silhouette or papercut artists of the Dutch Republic, receiving Royal and important national and international commissions like Queen Mary II of England (1662-1694). For the Empress of Austria she made a papercut composition with flowers, birds, crowns and coat of arms in a silk foliage braided work at the cost of 4000 guilders, which was a fortune. She rejected an offer of 1000 guilders by the German monarch Johan Willem van de Palts (1658-1716) as the work had taken her more time than appreciated by his offer.[3][4]

She executed religious and historical subjects, still lifes, landscapes, city views and also allegorical and mythological subjects of which a pomegranate surrounded by two cornucopia depicting the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is a splendid example. Joanna also had a fine sens of humor, shown in the papercut of the Coat of Arms she made for P. Muyskens in which she incorporated six mice. At later age Joanna concentrated on portraits of distinguished national and international dignitaries. For these portraits she used sketches and drawings she made during visits as well as existing engravings, which she adjusted. She made papercut portraits of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725), who visited her in 1697 together with the Mayor of Amsterdam, Nicolaes Witsen (1641-1717), Frederick of Brandenburg (1620-1688), Johan de Witt (1625-1672) and Willem Hendrik van Oranje III (1650-1702). Joanna became famous among her contemporaries and was nicknamed the Schaarminerve, which translated means the Minerva of the Scissors.[5][6]

Adriaan was keen to have guests leave a written (often calligraphed) message or laudatory poem in Joanna's Stamboek or Album Amicorum (the term Stamboek or Stammbuch originated during the Middle Ages in Germany followed by the Album Amicorum during the Renaissance. Both terms were used simultaneously during the late seventeenth and eighteenth century after which the Album Amicorum became more common). After Joanna died on the 28th of December 1715 Adriaan commissioned the foremost contemporary artists to make drawings corresponding to the laudatory poems creating dialogues with the written messages of the Stamboek in order to commemorate Joanna's fame. Adriaan died in 1726 after which the Stamboek was inherited by his second wife Maria van Arckel (-1737). Thanks to a visit by Pieter de la Rue (1695-1770) in 1735 to Maria van Arckel, we know the contents of the Stamboek were displayed in Maria's house, commemorating Joanna and her legacy.

The contents of the Stamboek were kept loosely inserted in three large folio albums: One with original written laudatory notes and poems by dignitaries (Emperors, Kings, Prinses, Counts, nobilities etc), a second album with poems by celebrated poets, a third album with contributions by the foremost contemporary artists and added in a fourth part texts in calligraphy by Jac. and Leonoor Gadelle, Elizabeth Crama etc. In 1735 a printed anthology was published with a selection of 117 poems of the albums.[7]

Among the contributing artists was Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719), who contributed at least twenty drawings to the Stamboek and dedicated no less than fiteen pages to Joanna in his De groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Kunstschilders en schilderessen... (1718-1721). His son Jacob Houbraken (1698-1780) engraved the portrait of Joanna for De Groote Schouburg... The portrait by Houbraken was reproduced by Jan Punt in 1734.

The albums comprised a total of ca. 210 drawings, all between ca. 26 x 17 cm and max. ca. 35 x 22 cm with at least 13 contributions by Jan Luyken (1649-1712), 45 by Nikolaas Verkolje (1672-1746), 12 amongst which the title-page of the Stamboek by Jan Goeree (1670-1731), 2 by Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), 2 by Gerard de Lairesse (1641-1711), 2 by Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1635-1695), 12 by Abraham Rademaker (1676-1735), 14 by Arnold Boonen (1669-1729), 4 by Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726) amongst which our drawing with laudatory poem and one by Johannes Bronckhorst (1648-1727), Henstenburgh's teacher and colleague pastry Baker in Hoorn.

Nor the original manuscript testimony of the inventory of Maria van Arckel neither the printed edition of the auction of the inventory mention the Stamboek albums which indicates Pieter de Testas Jr. acquired the Stamboek at least before the written testimony or by life directly from Maria. Actually, several versions have been recorded of the inventory of Pieter Testas Jr. of which the earliest dates 1735 which matches with our findings the Stamboek was in de Testas's possession before van Arckels death.[8][9][10]

Parts of the Stamboek were auctioned in 1762 and 1765. In 1766 the auction catalog of Michiel Oudaan (1701/3-1766) mentions six covers with contents of the Stamboek which all were acquired by the art dealer Jan Yver (1747-1814) for the sum of 5.500 guilders. At least one drawing was sold by Yver to the renowned collector, artist and Art dealer Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (1726-1798).

After the auctions, the drawings got dispersed. Drawings from the Stamboek have been localised in the collections of the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, City Archives Amsterdam, Printscabinet of the University of Leyden, Museum de Lakenhal, Leyden, Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Collection Six, Amsterdam and Teylers Museum, Haarlem.


Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726)

Already at young age, the self-taught Herman showed great talent drawing birds and landscapes after Pieter Holsteyn II (1614-1673). In recognition of his talents, in 1683, at the age of 15 or 16, Herman was apprenticed to the local pastry Baker Johannes Bronkhorst (1648-1727) to teach the profession of pastry Baker. Bronkhorst was aside of his profession as a Baker also active as watercolourist and became Herman's teacher on both skills. Bronkhorst exclusively drew birds, indicating Henstenburgh has had other examples by which he found inspiration for his flower- and fruit still lifes and vanitas drawings. Most probably the two Hoorn artists Jacob Rotius (1644-1682/2) and Pieter Gallis (1633-1697) inspired Henstenburgh for these subjects. On their part, they were followers of Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684). In his landscapes with birds and game is the influence of Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1635-1695) clearly present. Aside of being a Baker, Herman was also active as Cook for the regency, weddingparties and as a caterer. [11] Herman marries Weintje de Kneu in 1692 and the couple had five children of which one died at young age. The family lived in prosperity as pastrys were ordered by the upper class, thus providing Herman and his family with sufficient financial security. The couple's son, Antony (1692-1781), would succeed his father, both as artist and pastry Baker. Johan van Gool (1685-1763) dedicated nine pages to Henstenburgh in his De nieuwe schouwburg der Nederlantsche kunstschilders en schilderessen...Gool mentions Pieter Holsteyn II as one of the influences on Henstenburgh and the pupil surpassing his teacher Bronckhorst. [12]

From 1695 on Herman also focuses on flowers, fruits and insects and no one would come close to Henstenburgh and his level of perfection. He made his own pigments which were of superior quality by which he excelled as well (Van Gool). He experimented with additional transparent layers of watercolour, gouache and bodycolour by means of which he created his brilliant fresh pigments. When Mattheus Terwesten (1670-1757) paid Herman a visit, he was overwhelmed by the quality he saw and also promoted Henstenburgh among his own collectors. Pieter van den Branden in Middelburg also became an avid collector of the watercolours by Henstenburgh. Nicolaas Verkolje even drew the portrait of Herman Henstenburgh for the Stamboek of Joanna Koerten Blok, guided by a poem on Henstenburgh by S. Feitama dated 1720 which underscores the importance of the present drawing and Herman's contribution to the Stamboek. Verkolje also painted Herman and his wife Weijntje in 1722. Weijntje died shortly after both portraits were finished on the 8th of December 1722. Henstenburgh was active as a pastry Baker until his dead. On the 29th of 1719 he delivered the gebraad (probably pastry) for d'intreed maaltijt (the inauguration meal) of the Civic Guard Hoorn. In 1722 Herman was also employed by the Hoorn governor Antony Verlaan (1651-1722) which supports the statement he has been active as pastry Baker until his death. Herman Henstenburgh died on the 4th of November 1726 in his house at de Gouw 14, Hoorn where the family lived since 1709.

Already during his lifetime watercolour paintings by Herman Henstenburgh were highly appreciated, exemplified by several wealthy collectors from who Henstenburgh received commissions. Around the 1650's the first cabinets were composed in The Netherlands, with exotic animals, butterflies, shells and naturalia. Herrman also received commissions from the famous amateur botanist and collector Agnes Block (1629-1704) who was wealthy and independent and spent a great deal of her time at her country seat Vijverhof near the river Vecht which she acquired in 1670. Other artists Block contracted are Herman Saftleven (1609-1685), Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), Johannes Bronkhorst (1648-1727) and Willem de Heer (ca. 1638- 1681). Fun fact is that Block was an amateur papercut artist herself. Cosimo III 'de Medici (1642-1723), Grand Duke of Tuscany already owned three works by henstenburgh in 1700.

Herman obviously had a strong preferance for certain flowers, as he often depicted an Anemone Coronaria and Papaver somniferum prominently in the center or on the plinths of his drawings. The Flower Still life for Joanna Koerten Blok's Stamboek drawing further comprises of Fritillaria meleagris, Convolvulvus tricolor, Calendula officinalis, Rosa centifolia (the Rose with hundred petals), Bellis perennis, Ranunculus asiaticus, Primula x pubescens and more. The addition of several Myosotis alpestris (forget me not) flowers on the upper left of the bouquet is an endearing message by Henstenburgh commemorating Joanna not to be forgotten. The composition as well as the glass vase are similar to the undated drawing on vellum by Henstenburgh at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.[13]

Aside of the exceptional and important provenance, the present very fine drawing on parchment by Herman Henstenburgh takes a unique position in the artist's oeuvre being the only drawing known by Henstenburgh with a laudatory poem, in our drawing prominently painted in bronze or gold on the stone plinth.

The text on the stone plinth Ut Flos Secatur Unguibus, Vel Ventis Imbribus-Que Collabitur, sic JOANNA CURTENIA Dotibus Ingenii Et Arte Florentissima Tandem De Statione Sua Deturbata Est. 1718 (Like a flower being torn off for its perfume or by the rushing wind and rain, likewise Johanna Curtenia, who flourished by the gifts of her mind and by her beautiful art, was finally driven from her residency) is an endearing homage to Joanna and the international appreciation she and her work acclaimed. In 1735 a printed edition was published with a selection of poems from the Stamboek. The drawing might have been placed opposite to the one of the hymns written bij one of the Feitama family members, though this remains speculative as the printed edition of the poems is an anthology of the Stamboek contributions. One of the contributions by Nikolaas Verkolje for the Stamboek was a portrait of Herman Henstenburgh, facing a poem by S. Feitama which might be indicative for the above mentioned thoughts.[14]

Herman might well have been inspired by the painting with laudatory testimony on the plinth by the pioneer of the Dutch still life, Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573-1621), now in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.[15]

A warm thanks to Bob P. Haboldt for bringing the painting by Ambrosius Bosschaert to my attention.



[1] C.J. Kaldenbach, Tekeningen uit het album amicorum (Stamboek) van Joanna Koerten Blok (1650-1715), een overzicht met index, ca. 1988 (met enkele aanvullingen uit 2014; internetpublication:
https://kalden.home.xs4all.nl/auth/KoertenBlok1.htm), unpaginated.

[2] Arnold Houbraken, De groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Kunstschilders en schilderessen... (1721). Gedrukt door den auteur te Amsterdam, 1718-1721. Vol. III, p. 293-308.

[3] M. Moffitt Peacock, 'Paper as power. Carving a niche for the female artist in the work of Joanna Koerten', Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art 62 (2012), p. 238-265

[4] M. Plomp, 'De portretten uit het stamboek voor Johanna Koerten (1650-1715)',
Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 8 (1989), p. 323-344

[5] R.-J. te Rijdt, 'Jan Goeree, het stamboek van Joanna Koerten en de datering ervan',
Delineavit et Sculpsit no. 17, maart 1997, p. 48-56

[6] J.P. Verhave, R. Wieringa, 'Amsterdamse notities. Joanna Korten en haar kabinet van papieren snijkunst', Maandblad Amstelodamum 102 (2015), p. 175-178

[7] Het stamboek op de papiere snykunst Van Mejuffrouw JOANNA KOERTEN, huisvrouw van den heere Adriaan Blok: bestaande in Latynsche en Nederduitsche gedichten der voornaamste dichters.
Amsterdam, Voor Rekening van de Compagnie, 1735.

[8] Inventory Maria van Arckel, 22 October 1737.

[9] Catalogus Van een Nette en Zindelyke inboedel, Bestaande in Een groot Kabinet Oude Blauwe en Gecouleurde Japansche en Chineese Porcelynen Gemaakte en Ongemaakte Lywaten & c.
Jan Blok en Pieter Pekstop Jr. Utregtsestraat, tusschen de Heere- en Keysersgracht, 30 October 1737.

[10] Catalogus van een uitmuntend cabinet schilderyen, teekeningen, miniaturen, waterverwen en konstprenten, en gebonde prentwerken van de beste Italiaansche, Fransche en Nederlandsche meesters : alles met kennis en kosten uit de beste kabinetten by een verzamelt door den Heer Pieter Testas de Jonge. Hendrik de Leth, Amsterdam, 29 March 1757. Konst-boek B, lot 4 as Fles met Bloemen.

[11] ZAAL, ANNE M. - Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726)
Hoorn: Stichting Vrienden van het Westfries Museum, 1991; 4to (29cm), 19pp

[12] Johan van Gool, De nieuwe schouwburg der Nederlantsche kunstschilders en schilderessen.
Den Haag, 1750-1751. p. 248-257.

[13] Herman Henstenburgh, Flowers in a Glass Vase with a Butterfly.
Watercolour, gouache on vellum, 374 x 299 mm.
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-T-1898-A-3500

[14] Het stamboek op de papiere snykunst Van Mejuffrouw JOANNA KOERTEN, huisvrouw van den heere Adriaan Blok: bestaande in Latynsche en Nederduitsche gedichten der voornaamste dichters.
Amsterdam, Voor Rekening van de Compagnie, 1735.

[15] Ambrosius Bosschaert, Bouquet of Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1621.
Oil on copper, 316 x 216 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. inv. no. 1996.35.1

Copyright © 2022 • Onno van Seggelen Fine Arts • All rights reserved • Webdesign and development by Vier Hoog and Swiped