Detail from [Shepherd Boy with Recorder] by Jan van Troyen, after Francesco Bassano, the younger, ca. 1673. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
after a painting by Francesco Giambattista da Ponte, called Francesco Giambattista Bassano, the younger, painter, 1549-1592
This etching depicts a half-length portrait of a shepherd boy who wears a wreath of grape leaves in his hair. He plays a recorder with a flared bell, but the recorder is not accurately drawn by the artist. The shepherd's torso faces the left but he turns his head and gazes directly at the viewer. The Miller etching probably came from one of the editions of the Theatrum Pictorium, compiled by David Teniers the younger (1610-1690). The Theatrum Pictorium was a book of etchings and engravings of Italian paintings in the collection of the Archduke of Austria, Leopold Wilhelm (1614-1662), governor of southern (Spanish) Netherlands from 1647 to 1656, whose palace was in Brussels. In 1651, Teniers had moved to Brussels on being appointed court painter to the Archduke and keeper of his art collection. Teniers himself made painted copies of the Archduke's paintings from which engravers such as van Troyen, van Kessel, Vorsterman and others prepared the plates for the Theatrum Pictorium, the first edition of which appeared in 1660.
Teniers also painted many images showing the Archduke in his painting gallery. Among them is a painting entitled The Picture Gallery of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in Brussels in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Schloss Schleissheim, Oberschleissheim. In this image, a painting of a shepherd boy playing a recorder is seen. Presumably, it is the original painting by Bassano on which the Miller print was based. A reproduction of it can be seen in David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting, page 64. The painting of the shepherd wearing a wreath and playing a recorder is in the middle of the picture gallery at the left. He faces right, the opposite direction of the shepherd in the Miller etching. (Prints are often the reverse of the original painting, which is inherent in the printmaking process.)
The Library of Congress does have the 1660 edition of the Theatrum Pictorium. An image of the Miller etching is indeed included in the 1660 edition and the platemark dimensions of the Miller etching match exactly those of the etching in this edition. The etching by van Troyen is one of a pair of prints on a single page, thus the sheet dimensions of the Miller etching are slightly less than half the dimensions of the entire page which measures 16 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches (41.2 x 25.0 cm.). The Miller etching is more heavily inked than the etching in the 1660 edition which makes it seem much darker overall than the etching in the book of 1660.
Though the Miller etching was undoubtedly made from the same plate as the etching in the 1660 edition of Theatrum Pictorium and it does not appear to have been altered in any way, it probably came from one of the later editions of the Theatrum Pictorium because it includes a plate number "150," a number which does not appear on the plate of the shepherd boy in the first edition of 1660. Plate numbers appeared for the first time on the prints beginning with the second edition of Theatrum Pictorium in 1673, and they were placed in the bottom margin between the dimensions of the original painting and the printmaker's name. The plate number "150" on the Miller print means that it must date to at least 1673, though it may have come from a later edition of the Theatrum Pictorium as well.
Another impression of this shepherd boy by van Troyen is mentioned in a Web site, Recorder Iconography, by Nicholas S. Lander. See another print in the Miller collection from the Theatrum Pictorium, 525/V, The Finding of Paris by Theodoor van Kessel. The catalogue record for it provides much more information and sources on Teniers and the Theatrum Pictorium.
About the Artists
Jan van Troyen, engraver and etcher, ca. 1610-after 1670/71
Very little biographical information is available on Jan van Troyen. In an exhibition, David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting, at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, 2006-2007, the author of one of the essays, Margret Klinge, on page 31, mentions van Troyen as one of the engravers of the Theatrum Pictorium, and that he made fifty-six plates for it. She gives his full name as Jan van Troyen and his life dates as ca. 1610-after 1670/71. Bénézit describes van Troyen as a Flemish engraver and etcher, born in Brussels about 1610 and who died after 1666. Bénézit mentions that van Troyen engraved genre and religious subjects and that he was known especially for his plates for the Theatrum Pictorium (Theatre of Painting) by David Teniers the younger (1610-1690).
Francesco Giambattista da Ponte, called Francesco Giambattista Bassano, the younger, painter, 1549-1592
Francesco Bassano the younger was the eldest son of Jacopo da Ponte, called Jacopo Bassano (1510-1592). Jacopo was the most well-known of the Bassano family of artists, all of whom were born in Bassano del Grappa. Francesco studied with his father, Jacopo, and often collaborated with him, at first on altarpieces and frescoes for churches. Later, in Venice, they often worked together on various commissions, especially the décor of the Doge's Palace in Venice, where they probably collaborated on an oval ceiling painting, Capture of Padua at Night, of ca. 1580. Francesco painted other nocturnal scenes as well as genre subjects.
- Other editions were published in 1673, 1684, ca. 1700, and 1755. For a discussion of the Theatrum Pictorium, see David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting, an exhibition held at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Somerset House, London, 19 October 2006 - 21 January 2007. LC call number: ND673.T3A4 2006. [back to article]
- The original painting of the Shepherd Boy with Recorder and the Teniers copy after it, on which the van Troyen etching was based, are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. [back to article]
- It is entitled Schilder-thooneel van David Teniers, Gheboottigh van Antwerpen Schilder ende Camer-diender des Doorlste. Princen Leopol. Gvil. Arts-hertogh.... Antwerp: H. Aaertssens, 1660. Rare Book and Special Collections. LC call number: ND615.T3. [back to article]
- The information regarding the plate numbers that appeared on the prints in the Theatrum Pictorium beginning with the 1673 edition and their placement relative to the dimensions and other platemark inscriptions is found in the essay by Margret Klinge in David Teniers and the Theatre of Painting, p. 35. [back to article]
- This information is courtesy of Dr. Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen, Head of the Courtauld Galleries, London, 20 July 2007. [back to article]
- See Nicholas S. Lander, Recorder Iconography, where it is entitled and described as follows, under Francesco Bassano the Younger: "[Shepherd Boy with Pipe], engraving by I. Troÿen after Francesco Bassano, (1549/50-1592) but attributed in error to 'Bassant Jr.' Ref. Recorder & Music 7(3): cover (1981). A young boy with a leafy wreath on his head plays a narrow recorder with a greatly flared bell. The resemblance of this engraving to the anonymous copy of an original oil painting by Francesco Bassano, an anonymous painting in Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel, and to one of the paintings depicted in The Gallery of Archduke Leopold in Brussels (1640) by Teniers II is remarkable, though the details of the recorder differ somewhat in each case." [back to article]
- For further biographical information on Francesco Bassano the younger, see Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (subscription only). [back to article]