S.J. Van Douw - Capriccio italianizzante con scena di mercato
Simon Johannes Van Douw
(Anversa, 1630 - ?, after 1677)
Capriccio italianizzante con scena di mercato / Italian-Style Capriccio with Market Scene, 1650-1660
oil on canvas, cm. 210 x 330
Signed bottom left on block of stone: “S.V. DOUW”
Milano, Collezione d’arte della Fondazione Cariplo
This painting was bought on the antique market in 1982. Nothing is known about its previous history. Large in size and bearing the artist’s signature concealed on a block of stone, after the fashion of the period, it combines a whole series of standard elements and episodes including still life, animals, genre painting, landscape and an architectural capriccio based on works of Roman archaeology such as the temples of Castor and Pollux and Vespasian.
The most striking feature is the extraordinary number of human figures depicted in a whole variety of actions and occupations, engaged in commerce and in play, enjoying themselves in the tavern or at work with the flocks. It is undoubtedly the result of a combination of genres derived mainly from the Flemish tradition, Brueghel and David Teniers in particular, but reinterpreted in the Italianised manner largely initiated by Dutch artists settled in Rome, like Pieter Van Laer, whose nickname “Bamboccio” gave rise to the term “bambocciante” for episodes of everyday life among the common folk. Market scenes with direct references to Roman locations are in fact also to be found in the work of other northern artists, such as Anton Goubau and Johannes Lingelbach.
During his stay in Rome from 1625 to 1639, Van Laer produced a series of engravings that Van Douw unquestionably took as a model. In this connection, Meijer draws attention in particular to the group of horses near the white rider and the young person taking care of the dogs. While the artist might therefore have been able to produce his works (some similar items have recently come onto the market) without leaving the Netherlands, the large format of this painting, which is quite unusual considering how small Dutch were houses at the time, would instead suggest that it was executed for a noble residence in Italy.
There is no record of Van Douw having travelled to Italy, and indeed very little information about his life in general. While the evidence indicated above as regards subject matter and measurements would certainly suggest that he did so, further studies may provide an answer to the question in the future.