Johannes Huibert Prins (Den Haag 1757-1806 Utrecht) Fighting and resting cattle with shepherd (after Paulus Potter, 1648)

The doctor Johannes Huiber Prins was an autodidact in art and became a board member of the Confrerie Pictura, The Hague in 1785. He is best known for his (often imaginary) topographical drawings and cityscapes. Prins also worked after 17th century artists of which our drawing is a fine example.

Raised in a well-to-do family, the young Johannes was intended to become a Doctor Medicinae, and eventually enrolled to the studies of Philosopy where he became Doctor Philosophiae (Niemeijer), although his interest for drawing and painting was much more passionate.[1]

After completing his studies he fully devoted himself to an artistic career. Stimulated by his direct environment, the self-taught artist Prins traveled to Brabant and Paris where he drew many cityscapes. His drawings are mainly in the tradition of seventeenth century Old Masters Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712), Job (1630-1693) and Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde (1638-1698) and Adriaen van de Velde (1636-1672) whose compositions he also copied.[2][3]

The cityscapes by Prins are often capriccios of existing buildings which he used for free compositions after own inventions. The Rijksmuseum preserves a sketchbook with 175 pages of drawings of architecture studies Prins made in the cities of Delft, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Harlem, Hoorn, Voorburg and The Hague. He would merge these sketches later into his own composed capriccios just like the present sheet. Matthias de Sallieth engraved after Prins.[4]

Johannes' tumultuous character was one with contradictive qualities, as he was praised for his orations which made him a Regent of Confrerie Pictura The Hague in 1784, where he would sneak off with the cash box later on. During his later years Johannes lost grip of his artistic career due to abusive drinking and is assumed to have drowned in 1806.

Works by Johannes Huibert Prins were highly esteemed during his lifetime and he was collected by important contemporary collectors like Hendrik Muilman (1743-1812), Jacob Helmolt (1747-1808) and Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (1726-1798).

The original drawing by Potter preserved in the collection Institut Néerlandais, collection Frits Lugt, Paris. [5][6]


[1] J.W. Niemeijer, Hollandse aquarellen uit de 18de eeuw.
Waanders Uitgevers, Zwolle/Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1990. p. 114-117.
[2] Van Eijnden & Van der Willigen, Geschiedenis der Vaderlandsche Schilderkunst, II (1816) pp. 426-430.
[3] Leslie A. Schwartz, The Dutch Drawings in the Teyler Museum - Artists born between 1740 and 1800.
Haarlem/Ghent/Doornspijk, 2004. p.327-329.
[4] Johannes Huibert Prins, Sketchbook with 175 pages of views of Delft, Utrecht, Nijmegen, Harlem, Hoorn, Voorburg and The Hague.
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inv. no. BI-1891-3134
[5] Paulus Potter, Vechtende runderen en rustend vee.
Pencil, brown framing lines on vellum, 200 x 279 mm.
Institut Néerlandais, collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. no. 253.
[6] Amy Walsh, Edwin Buijsen, Ben Broos, Paulus Potter, schilderijen, tekeningen en etsen.
Mauritshuis, Den Haag/Waanders, Zwolle, 1994. Depicted on p. 49.

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