Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (Amsterdam, August 19, 1621 – September 29, 1674), was a Dutch Golden Age painter in the seventeenth century. Van den Eeckhout’s oeuvre demonstrates a great versatility. He painted and drawn story pieces, that is, paintings with life-sized figures based on Bible, mythology, history and Roman antiquity stories. In addition, he made ornaments for decoration, landscapes, cityscapes, portraits and genres of musicians and soldiers. He was also an etcher, an amateur poet, a collector and an adviser on art. His work is subtle and he signed for a small audience.
Arnold Houbraken records Van den Eeckhout was a pupil of Rembrandt. A fellow pupil to Ferdinand Bol, Nicolaes Maes and Govert Flinck, but regarded as inferior to them in skill and experience; he soon assumed Rembrandt’s manner with such success that his pictures were confused with those of his master.
Eeckhout does not merely copy the subjects; he also takes the shapes, the figures, the Jewish dress and the pictorial effects of his master. It is difficult to form an exact judgment of Eeckhout’s qualities at the outset of his career. His earliest pieces are probably those in which he more faithfully reproduced Rembrandt’s peculiarities. Exclusively his is a tinge of green in shadows marring the harmony of the work, a gaudiness of jarring tints, uniform surface and a touch more quick than subtle.
Gerbrand was born in Amsterdam, the son of a jeweller, a Mennonite who fled after 1585 from Antwerp to the north. In 1631 his mother died. His father’s second wife was Cornelia Dedel, the daughter of a founder of the Delft chamber of the Dutch East India Company.
Although not actually substantiated by surrendered archives, it is believed that Gerbrand van den Eeckhout worked in Rembrandt’s studio from 1635/6 to 1640/1 as a student or companion. According to Arnold Houbraken, Gerbrand was “a great friend of Rembrant van Ryn”. He evolved into a very productive artist, coloristically gifted and, in fantasy, the multitude of other Rembrandt students, such as Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck and Nicolaes Maes. Van den Eeckhout’s use of colors is original, nuanced and unconventional.
The style of Van den Eeckhout is viable; His drawings are brilliant. He produced many variations on the same theme; Ruth and Boas has signed four times. Werner Sumowski describes 218 drawings of his hand. Already in the early drawings and paintings of Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, besides the influence of Rembrandt, there is a clear familiarity with Pieter Lastman. However, a short training at Lastman seems unlikely since it died in 1633 when Van den Eeckhout was twelve years old. Maybe Gerbrand first learned from masters like Nicolaes Moeyaert or Salomon Koninck, who worked in Lastman’s style. But Rembrandt himself, with whom Van den Eeckhout may have studied, could have learned the legacy of his teachers. Rembrandt had two bundles of Lastman’s drawings that he possibly used as a teaching material for the instruction of his students.
Van den Eeckhout and Rembrandt were excluded around 1650 for decorations of the town hall on the Dam.
He painted a portrait of Jan van de Cappelle in 1653. In 1657 he received an important assignment: a rainforest for the kuipersgilde in the Barndesteeg, which also depicted his brother. The activities of the Amsterdam painter, draftsman, etcher, and opportunity poet Gerbrandt van den Eeckhout had a highlight in the 1660s. Apparently, he could fall back on fixed buyers, affecting each other’s interest in certain subjects.
Van den Eeckhout was a developed man and was in contact with merchants, scholars and poets. Van den Eeckhout was friends with Roeland Roghman and Jacobus Heiblocq. In 1663 he probably made a journey from Arnhem to Kleef along the Rhine with Jan Lievens and Jacob Esselens. In 1669 he made a portrait of Isaac Commelin. He made an illustration for the book The experienced huys-holder, being the III. Part of the Vermakelyck landt-life. Educating, taking in and buying the cities, healing medicine for the faults of humans and animals, will add and prepare. As a subterranean house, you can shed flowers and herbs, nutty and spicy waters, and distillate. Neither is the Naerstigen City Holder attached to it. Noisy for this reason. By Petrus Nijlant.
Van den Eeckhoudt was born as a son of goldsmith Jan Pieterszoon van den Eeckhout from the Kalverstraat. Service father Pieter Lodewijckszoon van den Eeckhout was out of baptismal beliefs evacuating his native city of Brussels and evacuated to Amsterdam via s-Hertogenbosch and Harlingen. Two years after Gerbrands mother, Grietje Leydeckers, died Gerbrands father married Cornelia Dedel, the daughter of a founder and governor of the East India Company in Delft. (There are portraits of his father and stepmother still in the possession of the family).
Van den Eechout was unmarried but lived from 1670 with Maria van Schilperoort, his brother’s widow, and her five children on the Herengracht, not far from the Vijzelstraat. The art expert, collector and valuer of paintings was hired by Gerrit van Uylenburgh in 1672. In 1673 he again painted the regents of the wine-making or wine-leavers guild. Gerbrand van Eeckhout died on September 26, 1674 and was buried three days later in the Oudezijds Kapel.