A Court Case in Respect of a Sale of Paintings Attributed to Anthony Van Dyck (1660-1662)

A Court Case in Respect of a Sale of Paintings Attributed to Anthony Van Dyck (1660-1662) by L. Galesloot. First published as ‘Un procès pour une vente de tableaux attribués a Anntoine van Dyck. 1660-1662.’ in Annales de l’Académie d’Archéologie de Belgique¸vol. XXIV, 2nd series, vol. IV. 1868, pp. 561-606 and 2 ill.

Edited by Joost Vander Auwera. Translated by Michael Lomax (2021). The original publication by Galesloot is available to download as a PDF file.

Also see ‘The 1660–1661 Antwerp court case about a series of Van Dyck’s Apostles: two new documents and some reflections on the course of justice and the potential for new discoveries.’ and ‘The 1660–1661 Court Case on the Apostle Series by Van Dyck: A Who’s Who of the Antwerp artistic scene in the post-Rubens and post-Van Dyck era.’ published in the December issue of the Jordaens Van Dyck Journal.

How to cite: Galesloot, Louis “A Court Case in Respect of a Sale of Paintings Attributed to Anthony Van Dyck (1660-1662)” In Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project. Edited by Joost Vander Auwera and translated by Michael Lomax.
http://jordaensvandyck.org/article/galesloot/ (accessed 1 December 2022)

© Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project (terms and conditions)

Contents

  • A court case in respect of a sale of paintings attributed to Anthony Van Dyck (1660-1662)
  • Justificatory documents
    1. Opinion of lawyer Lamberty
    2. Depositions of the witnesses heard for the defendant
    3. Defendant’s appeal and pleadings
    4. Reply of the same defendant
    5. Plaintiff’s duplicate
    6. Deposition in front of notary by painter Jean Breughel
    7. Statement before notary by dean Guillaume Verhagen
    8. Statements by witnesses cited by the plaintiff
    9. Subsequent declaration by painter Jacques Jordaens, made in front of a notary
    10. Attestation made in front of notary by painter Abraham Snellinck
    11. Attestations by Jean-Baptiste Van Eyck, Bonaventure Cornelissen and Gonzales Coques
    12. Declaration of the four deans of the confraternity of Saint Luke in Antwerp
  • Notes


 

A court case in respect of a sale of paintings attributed to

Anthony Van Dyck
(1660-1662)

A Notice by Mr L. Galesloot, titular member of the Académie d’Archéologie de Belgique
Commissioners-Reporters: MM. le Chevalier L de Burbure and Mr. Th. Van Lerius

In 1660, there was brought before the aldermen’s court of Antwerp one of those civil cases which depart from the circle of everyday conflicts which, for most of the time, are all about no more than what is yours and what is mine. On this occasion its task was to pronounce judgement on the validity of a sale, and consequently on the authenticity of certain paintings, the subject of said sale. The fame of the artist to whom these paintings were attributed gave these debates, if not brilliance, at least a real interest, rendered the more lively by the written depositions of the witnesses. Who, indeed, were these witnesses? Contemporary painters, several of whom were still the glory of the Flemish school, a glory albeit somewhat eclipsed by the fairly recent deaths of Rubens and of Van Dyck. Some had known these two illustrious masters, others had been their pupils, and all, faithful to the traditions of the school, had remained their admirers.

The appraisals of these various artists, their explanations, those supplied by an old Antwerp dean of an armed guild [Longbowmen] and his wife, and other circumstances together make this into an at once curious and instructive episode in the history of art in our country. I admit also, for myself, that on finding one by one the documents dispersed among a vast heap of powdery archives, untouched for about a century, l could not refrain from telling myself that I had found a pearl in a heap of waste paper. Such is the recompense that, from time to times, compensates the archivist for his pains in accomplishing this laborious task. But, as Horace observes, nihil est omni parte beatum [= nothing is blissful in every aspect]; the file was not complete and I despair of filling the gaps, given the great disorder reigning in said archives. For this reason that information that follows will also be incomplete. I shall, nonetheless, present it to the reader.

In 1660, or perhaps already in 1659, Antwerp painter Jan Breughel went one day to inform a canon of the cathedral church, named François Hillewerve1, who would appear to have held works of art in high esteem, that Mr Pierre Meulewels2, a bourgeois of the city, owned a collection of thirteen paintings or portraits representing the apostles and Christ. Breughel assured the canon that these were originals by Van Dyck, praising their beauty and proposing that the canon acquire them.3 The latter, without saying yes or no, did not delay in going and examining the paintings. They pleased him. After a fairly long discussion, and a lively discussion as to the price, agreement was reached. Hillewerve acquired the paintings for the sum of 1900 florins, which represented then much more than the same sum today, given the depreciation that this currency has since suffered. Despite this high price, our canon, full of confidence in the seller’s repeated assertions, as well as those of Breughel, believed that he had made an excellent bargain. But since he sometimes entertained artists, whom apparently he had not consulted, and given that the deal had been the subject of a certain amount of talk in the city, doubts arose in his mind as to the authenticity, already contested, of the recently acquired paintings. Finally, his friends completely dissipated his illusions by assuring him that the portraits sold to him were only copies, more or less retouched by the master. The worthy canon, very indisposed, as one can well imagine, towards Meulewels, went to a lawyer, set out the case to him and asked whether there was reason in law to cancel to sale and receive his money back. The lawyer consulted the Digeste (the local customs not probably having made provision for this case), and strengthened by the dispositions of the same4, declared that his client, unworthily deceived, was fully (ten hoochsten) entitled to pursue the seller, quia, [because] he alleged among other things si emptor dolo ad contrahendum inductus sit, tunc dolus dans causam contractui reddit contractum ipso jure nullum, volente eo qui deceptus est [if the buyer be misled by bad faith to conclude the deal, then because bad faith is at the origin of the contract it makes that contract nil by the law itself if the buyer who is misled wants it that way] . On which basis the canon brought proceedings for rescission in front of the aldermen of Antwerp.

I will not go into further details on the ensuing proceedings, given that I have found, as we have seen, only an incomplete dossier.5 What is certain is that these proceedings involved no less than forty hearings, from 5 September 1660 to 7 September 1661, given the skill of the parties’ attorneys in prolonging the squabble, as is their praiseworthy wont. At the bottom of all this were two clearly established facts: that, on the one hand, the defendant, Messire Meulewels, maintained energetically that the paintings he had sold were originals by the famous painter Anthony Van Dyck and that on the other the plaintiff, sufficiently supplied with facts, affirmed the opposite. How in this case could the judges have been able to pronounce an informed sentence without recourse to the lights of competent persons, that is artists? The case was therefore settled on the basis of proofs, or as they used to say at the palace [of justice], written testimonial proofs. It is these which, by a very particular stroke of fortune, have come into my hands.

As is almost superficial to remark, these proofs, together with the reproaches, that is, the attempts of each side to disqualify the other side’s witnesses, form for us the essential part of the trial. The reproaches, also in writing, we lack. This is a major gap, as they would certainly have contained interesting details on the artists that were the subject of the same. In the absence of better, I will give here a summary analysis of the proofs, taking care to reproduce their full texts at the end of this article, in the form of justificatory documents.6 To these I refer the inquisitive reader, and without taking into account the date order, I pass first of all to the witnesses for the defence7, because we find in their statements taken as a whole more comment-worthy facts that in the testimonies of the adversary party.8

THE PAINTER JAN BREUGHEL, the former dean of the painters.9

– This witness made two depositions: one on 5 September 1660 in front of notary Jean Van Nos, in Antwerp; the other in April 1661 in front of alderman Schoyte, judge-commissioner, charged with the investigation of the case.

In the first deposition,10 Brueghel said that he had lived in close intimacy with the famous painter Van Dyck, who was of more or less the same age as himself and with whom he had been brought up. As adolescents they left together for Italy, where they continued to live on the same familiar terms, sharing their works and their impressions reciprocally. This friendship remained on Van Dyck’s return to Antwerp. Breughel often visited the master when he had some capital piece in his hands. Before their departure for Italy, when Van Dyck was residing at the Dom de Cologne, close to the convent of the Friars Minor, Breughel saw him painting the features of the twelve apostles and the Saviour, including one day when Van Dyck was representing an apostle after his uncle, the late Pieter de Jode. 11

‘Whom are you painting there?’ the witness asked. ‘I’ll make quite ‘a fine figure of it’, answered Van Dyck. Breughel adds that he had learned that these paintings were in the possession of Messire Meulewels, who had sold them to Canon Hillewerve. He considered them to be true Van Dyck originals.

Breughel declared, in his second deposition12, that he had been present when the canon acquired the paintings from Meulewels. At the time he had commented that there were some very poor ones; to which Meulewels had said that he had given the portrait of Christ into the bargain. Before the sale, Breughel had advised the canon to place three of the portraits after the others, when showing his collection to art-lovers and to have them retouched by Van Thulden13 or by Langen Jan.14 ‘We shall see’, the future acquirer answered. The witness then asked Meulewels if he did not want to sell his painting for 300 Flemish pounds. Meulewels had refused. ‘Well then’, the canon said, ‘I’ll give you 1900 florins,’ and the deal was done.

Breughel then declared that Van Dyck, Rubens and other painters had often treated the same subject, the first in particular, in such a way that it was difficult to distinguish these different works one from another.15 He said that if all the paintings in question had been equally well finished, they would have been worth twice what they had been sold for. Thus, he offered a hundred patagons to be able to select one of the twelve.

He repeated that certain of these portraits were infinitely better painted than certain others. He had mentioned this to the canon, recommending him to place them in the hands of Langen Jan or Van Thulden.

The witness ended by giving some details on his relations with Van Dyck. These are almost the same as those given above.

THE PAINTER JUSTUS-VERUS VAN EGMONT16. –For him it was easy to distinguish the portraits painted by Van Dyck from the copies made by him17, witness, and similarly from the retouched canvases.18 The witness thought that if the twelve portraits had all been as well finished as well as the best of them, they would have been worth the price at which they had been sold.

THE PAINTER ABRAHAM JANSSENS19 – He has been at Meulewel’s residence while the deal was being struck. He had heard Jan Breughel tell the canon that, among the paintings, there were five or six poor subjects (slechte gasten) which it would be good to have retouched by Langen Jan or by another artist, and that if these imperfect works had been finished to the standard of those designated by Breughel, the collection would have been worth tenfold. Janssens understood, moreover, that the canon had offered 1800 florins, and that Meulewels replied that he could not sell the collection at that price.

THE PAINTER JEAN-PIERRE BREUGHEL20. – He too had been present when the canon was bargaining for the paintings. He had heard him say to his father Jan Breughel that it was annoying that, among the number, there were two or three poor ones and that it was necessary to have them retouched by Langen Jan or by Van Thulden, who was then in Antwerp. Meulewels offered the paintings for 400 Flemish pounds, adding that if he did not obtain more or less this sum, he would send them to England; to which the canon replied that it would be inappropriate for these paintings to pass into the hands of beggars (protestants), and proposed buying them for 1800 florins. Meulewels observed that if his collection had not contained a small number of poorly executed items, he would not have let it go for 600 Flemish pounds.

THE PAINTER MATTHIEU MUSSON21 – For him, Van Dyck never treated one and the same subject22, but he could have retouched paintings23. It seemed to the witness that if one gave 30 Flemish pounds for the best canvas, it would be well paid for.

THE PAINTER CORNEILLE DE BAELLIEU24 – He knew of no canvases that Van Dyck had reproduced twice; but he had seen works retouched by this master, which appeared to him as good as the originals. In his estimation, the best portrait in the collection was correctly valued at 25 Flemish pounds.

GUILLAUME VERHAGEN, hood maker (huyckmaeker), former dean of the guild called the Jongenhandboeg or Young Oath of the Longbowmen. – Like Jan Breughel, Verhagen who, we note, was an old man of 75, made his first deposition in front of notary Van Nos on 5 September 1660. This is what he stated. His statement is both interesting and important.25

44 or 45 years before26, he said, he had asked Van Dyck to paint for him the twelve apostles and the Saviour. Van Dyck had delivered these canvases to him and they remained for a long time in the house of the witness, who often visited the master while he was working on them. He had even seen him at work. Van Dyck constantly boasted about these paintings, saying that they were by his own hand. When they were in the witness’s house, Rubens, Seghers27, David Ryckaert28, now former dean of painters, Wolfaert29, Moermans30, paintings merchant, and other art-lovers come several times to admire them, lavishly praising their perfection and viewing them as true Van Dyck originals. Verhagen added that he had learned that these paintings had passed into Meulewel’s hands and that he has sold them to Hillewerve, etc.

In his second deposition, made on 29 April 1661, again at the request of the defendant31, our old dean repeated that he had ordered the paintings from Van Dyck and that he had seen the painter work on one of them. After much insistence by him, they had been finished and delivered. Verhagen had observed to the master that they were not all equally well painted; to which Van Dyck had objected that there was difference in all things. Van Dyck’s pupils (knechten) had asked the witness to let copies be made of said paintings32 which the artist himself considered highly, declaring himself to be their author. This had been followed by visits by Rubens, Segers, Ryckaert, Moermans and others, and admiration by them. Verhagen added, by way of conclusion, that he had sold the paintings, about one year ago, to a bourgeois named Corneille Nuldens.

ELÉONORE MENNES, wife of the above witness – Forty-six years or thereabouts had passed since her husband has asked Van Dyck to paint for him the portraits of the twelve apostles and of Christ. The paintings having been delivered, a pupil of the painter had come and requested the deponent’s husband to allow him to copy them. He had reproduced two or three of them. Said paintings had been for a long time in the deponent’s house, where a large number of painters and art-lovers came and admired them. These had told the deponent maker and her husband that these paintings would be very useful to them when old age approached. About a year before Verhagen had announced one day to the witness that he had sold the paintings to Corneille Nuldens for 600 florins. A workman had carried the canvases to the acquiring party.

Let us now summarize the sworn statements of the plaintiff’s witnesses.33

THE PAINTER HERMAN SERVAES. – He has examined on two occasions the paintings sold as Van Dyck originals. For him these are not all originals, but retouched copies. He knows this all the more because, when Van Dyck painted these originals, he, witness, was one of his pupils.34 He saw the master at work. The witness has even taken copies of these paintings, which others too have done. He had assured himself that various of the same copies had been retouched by Van Dyck; and he believes that the sold collection contains a copy made by himself and retouched in this way. Hence none of these paintings were from the brush of said Van Dyck.

BONAVENTURA CORNELIS, frame-maker, in Antwerp. – He had heard say to the above-mentioned Servaes that he had painted one of the portraits in the collection in question.

THE PAINTER JUSTUS-VERUS VAN EGMONT. – Having examined the paintings at the canon’s residence, he judges that most of them are copies, retouched by Van Dyck, and that some are really by the latter. The witness has made several copies from the originals. It seems to him that a couple of these are in the collection and that the master had retouched them.

THE PAINTER HUBERT SPORCKMANS35 – He has spoken with Meulewels who, it seems to him, said that he had sold these paintings as originals and considered them to be such. Having examined them, the witness is of the opinion that these are not Van Dyck originals, but retouched copies, some a little more so that the others.

THE PAINTER JAN BOECKHORST36 – He has examined the paintings and believes these to be copies retouched to a greater or lesser extent by Van Dyck.

THE PAINTER MATTHIEU MUSSON – His opinion is that these canvases are copies, not originals by Van Dyck.

THE PAINTER DAVID RYCKAERT37. – It seems to him that he has not seen the paintings other than in the canon’s house. He judges these to be no more than retouched copies and in no way Van Dyck originals.

THE PAINTER JACQUES JORDAENS38 – He has closely examined the paintings in question, which he had already seen previously, at the acquirer’s premises. For him these are copies, retouched to a greater or lesser extent by Van Dyck.

Jordaens gave this opinion in November of December 1660, but on 11 July of the following year he made a more important deposition in front of notary Lamberty. Not only did he maintain that the portraits of the apostles were no more than copies retouched by Van Dyck, but he assured that he had seen the originals in Antwerp, in around 1622, and that they were purchased then by a certain Henri Vuylenborch. Jordaens knew this person all the more for having done business with him. More than that, he has very recently seen the same originals in Utrecht, slightly before Pentecost in this same year of 1661.39

THE PAINTER ABRAHAM VAN DIEPENBEECK40 – On examining the paintings, he judges them to be copies retouched by Van Dyck. There are parts the master has not corrected, like the left hand of an apostle.

Apart from these depositions, Canon Hillewerve had provided, from 29 October 1660 onwards, attestations made in front of the above-mentioned notary Lamberty by painter Abraham Snellinck41, by Messire J.B. Van Eyck, merchant, by Bonaventure Cornelis, mentioned earlier, and by painter Gonzales Coques42.

Snellinck declared that the twelve apostles and the Saviour, painted by Van Dyck, had been purchased by a certain person named Bontemuts, who had taken them abroad. This had been 36 years ago or thereabouts.43 Copies had been made from these originals; Van Dyck retouched them. They had remained for a time with Élie Voet.44 The witness was very well aware of these circumstances.45

Van Eyck and Cornelis affirmed that Herman Servaes had said that the paintings in question were not Van Dyck originals.

As for Coques, he declared that having heard the assertions of the two previous witnesses, he went to see the paintings at the canon’s house, in the company of the same Servaes. The latter maintained what he had stated earlier and pointed to one of the portraits as having been painted by himself in Van Dyck’s workshop.46

Finally, the plaintiff produced another original declaration, dated 6 November 1660, by Pieter Verbrughen47, Pieter Thys48, Hubert Sporckmans49 and Pieter Thomas50, former deans and current deans of the confraternity of St. Luke, in Antwerp, meeting expressly for this reason. The unanimous opinion of these experienced men was that the paintings sold to the canon were only copies, more or less retouched by Van Dyck.51

Such were the witness statements and judgements of the witnesses cited by one or the other pleading party. Unfortunately, I have not found any copy of the judgement to which they obviously gave rise. Obviously they served as a basis. M. le Chevalier de Burbure, who has had the extreme kindness to undertake research in the Antwerp city archives, has been no more fortunate than myself.

And here is another vexation. The condemned party, I do not know which one, appealed the judgement in front of the sovereign council of Brabant, and here again, not only have I been totally unable to discover the decision of this court52, but I have found no trace of the pleadings preceding it.

However, in the presence of the above-mentioned witness statements, and despite the contradictory nature of the statements of Jordaens, Snellinck and Verhagen as to the fate of the original portraits by Van Dyck, there can be no doubt that Canon Hillewerve purchased no more than copies retouched by Van Dyck.

Since sending this notice to the Academy of Archaeology, Mr de Burbure has sent me the following memo: ‘The judgement in the Hillewerve case was pronounced by the Antwerp aldermen on 8 November 1661, but was not transcribed in the ad hoc register of sentences. Five sheets, left blank at that date, indicate where it ought to have been. The appeal was interjected by Meulewels who, on 20 December 1661, appointed Master Gerardi as his attorney in front of the Council of Brabant.’

This communication tells us that it was Meulewels who lost the initial case. It remains to be known whether the judgement of the Antwerp aldermen was confirmed by the sovereign council of Brabant, or whether, as I have suggested, the parties arrived at a settlement.

In the event of doubt, the readers of the Annales of the Academy will thank me for acquainting them the opinion of M. Van Lerius on this dispute.

‘The matter’, this knowledgeable critic writes me53, ‘was difficult to judge. On the one hand, it was declared that one part at least of the paintings were the work of Van Dyck. On the other that the remaining ones had been retouched by him, after being reproduced from his originals, by masters of quality. If Van Dyck had judged them worthy of himself and had sold them as his works, what could the judges do in this singular case? Allow for a reduction in price for those manifestly inferior to the others; but the Saviour had been given by way of compensation for these paintings. What is to be done in such a case? An example to enlighten mankind, as my lawyer colleagues say. It is a fairly well-known fact that today sculptors, when a statue is commissioned from them, are content to model it. The artisans then execute it in marble, stone or another material, and the master puts the final touches. Woe to the person commissioning it and then maintaining it was not the work of the artist with whom he had made the deal. Apply this concept to the case in question, and do not lose sight of the fact that Rubens sometimes did no more than sketch a painting, which his pupils then painted, which he reviewed and put the final touches to and sold as his own, and ask yourselves, once again, what the judges ought to have decided….?’

Justificatory documents

I. Opinion of lawyer Lamberty
29 August 1661

Casus (the matter)

A certain Jan Breugel came to the house of A.54 on behalf of Peeter Meulenvels, telling to said A. that said Peeter Meulenvels had for sale the Saviour and Twelve apostles, consisting of thirteen pieces. Which he, Breugel, said to be the original pieces painted by the renowned artist Anthonius Van Dyck, inducing and persuading said A to go and see and to purchase said pieces. Following which said A went to see the same pieces at the house of said Peeter Meulenvels, on which occasion both said Meulenvels and said Breugel affirmated said pieces to be the original pieces painted by said renowned artist Van Dyck with his own hand. Thus persuaded, said A purchased said pieces for the sum of nineteen hundred guilders, based on the affirmation that said pieces were the original pieces painted by said Van Dyck.

The fact is that said thirteen pieces are not the originals, but are only retouched copies, painted by other persons, after the originals, which pieces were more or less retouched by the aforesaid Van Dyck.

Quaeritur (The question is)

Whether said A is not justified in taking action against said Peeter Meulenvels, the seller of said paintings, to have the same seller required to take back said paintings and to return to said A the price paid by the same A to said seller, with interest on the same

Jus (In la

Seeing that the undersigned, consulted in said case and question, opines that said A is totally justified in taking action against said seller, for the purpose of having the same required to receive back said paintings and to return said sale price, with interest on the same, even if among said sold paintings there were just one or two that were original, propter individuitatem constractus [because being individualised in the (sale) contract] , since all said pieces were sold together uno confuso pretio [at one global price], seeing that said A was induced by the persuasions and statements, both of said Meulenvels and said Bruegel, to said purchase and was cheated quia si emptor dolo ad contrahendum inductus sit, tunc dolus dans causam contractui reddit contractum ipso jure nullum, volente eo qui deceptus est. L[iber]. et eleganter et ibi dd. ff. de dolo malo. [because if the purchaser is induced into contracting by fraud, then the fraud giving rise to the contract renders the contract null by law, if so wished by the one who has been deceived. The Book (of law) and judiciously and on the same pages and the following ones on (the subject of) intentional fraud].

Given also that said A, believing that said pieces were the originals painted by Van Dyck, erravit circa rem venditam. Error autem circa rem impedit consensum et emptionem, que consensu perficitur, vitiat et reddit nullum L[iber] 11 § 5 de actionibus empt. et vend. L[iber] 15 ff., de juridic. [was in error as to the piece sold. However, an error as to the piece is an impediment to the consensus, and vitiates and nullifies the purchase done by the consensus. Book 11 § 5 and the following paragraphs on the actions of buyer and seller. Book 15 and the following books, on jurisdiction]

Thus advised on 29 August 1661, salvo meliore [with (due respect to) a better opinion].

LAMBERTY

 

II. Depositions of the witnesses heard for the defendant
March and April 1661

Testimony heard on behalf of and at the request of PEETER MEULEWELS, defendant, with regard to the contents of the articles described below of the reply of said defendant, against Sir Canon HILLEWERVEN, plaintiff.

JAN BREUGEL, artist painter, living in the Colveniersstraete, fifty-eight years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as to the first, second, third and fourth articles of the defendant’s reply55 witnesses and declares that he, deponent, was present when the plaintiff purchased from the defendant twelve apostles, with the affirmation that these were by the painter Van Dyck; and on the deponent’s stating there were also some very poor ones among them, the defendant said that he would add the Saviour into the sale, the deponent having told the plaintiff before any purchases (and subsequently in the street) that if he showed them to anyone, he advised him, the plaintiff, to place these three (which he then showed) behind, advising him, the plaintiff, to have them retouched by painter Thulden or by Langen Jan, to which the defendant replied ‘Well we shall see’. Then the plaintiff asked the defendant if he would not hand them over for three hundred Flemish pounds. The defendant answering ‘no’, the plaintiff said: ‘Well, I shall give nineteen hundred guilders’, and the purchase was done on that basis.

As to the seventeenth, eighteenth and twenty-seventh articles of the same reply56, the deponent states that the painter Van Dyck and also the painter Rubens and also others had painted one and the same subject and mainly said Van Dyck, so that the same can be distinguished only with difficulty one from another, and the deponent judges that, if all the paintings unde quaestio [of which is the question] were equally beautiful, thy would be worth once so much as the amount at which they were sold when sold, the deponent would have offered one hundred pattacons (equal to 240 guilders (translator) in order to be able to choose one.

With respect to the twentieth, twenty-first and twenty-second articles57, the statement maker says that, of the pieces unde quaestio [of which is the question], some are much better than the others, which is what the deponent has said to the plaintiff at the time of purchase, adding that he should have the same remedied by Langen Jan or the painter Thulden.

With respect to the twenty-sixth article and the attestation required there, the deponent declares that he, deponent, has from his youth been well acquainted with the late painter Van Dyck, having been with the same in Italy and has been well acquainted and in friendship with the same; in the same vein the deponent has known the same Van Dyck when, coming from Italy, he had resided in this city, the deponent having been at his house various times, like when he was working on some rare pieces. And among other things he saw that, before the same removed to Italy and was then living with the Fratres minores at (the house named) Dom van Ceulen (Cologne Cathedral), that he was working on twelve apostles and a Saviour, he himself having seen him working on one apostle, painted after the late Peeter De Jode. And on the deponent’s question to said Van Dyck, whom he was then painting, the latter answered: ‘I shall make a pretty apostle of him.” The deponent saw at the defendant’s house the twelve apostles and Saviour sold to the plaintiff. And he, deponent, maintains that the same, with the exception of a few, are painted by said Van Dyck.

Ending herewith his witness statement, being neither gainer nor loser in the matter, nor in partnership with the parties.

JEAN BRUEGHEL


JUSTUS-VERUS VAN EGMONT, artist painter, resident in the Arenberchstraete, fifty-eight years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath, and questioned about the seventeenth, eighteenth and twenty-seventh articles of aforementioned answer, witnesses and declares that the principal paintings done by Van Dyck are sufficiently recognizable and the copies painted by him, if it were not the two done from life, and that also the retouched copies are sufficiently recognizable.

With respect to the twenty-seventh article the deponent says that in so far as the twelve apostles were all of similar quality to the best of them, they would be worth the price at which they were sold.

Ending herewith, etc.58

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE JUSTUS VERUS AB EGMONT
Depositum 15 martii 1662, presente domino Schoyte, commissario59
[Statement made on 15 March 1662, in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


ABRAHAM JANSSENS, painter, resident in the Colovenierstraete, forty-two years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned with regard to the twentieth, twenty-first and twenty-second articles of the reply of the aforementioned defendant, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, being in the defendant’s house, where the plaintiff was also there among those who were together negotiating to buy and sell the twelve apostles unde quaestio [of which is the question]. There the deponent heard painter Jan Breugel say to the plaintiff that among the aforementioned paintings there were five or six bad ones, and that these could be remedied by Langen Jan or someone else, with the aforementioned Jan Breugel saying to the plaintiff that if all the paintings were like the good ones, which he pointed to, that they would be worth ten times as much, the deponent having heard the plaintiff then offer money to the defendant, being, as far as he can remember, eighteen hundred guilders. To which the defendant said that he could not give them for this.

Ending herewith, etc.

ABRAHAM JANSSENS


JAN-PEETER BREUGEL, painter, resident in the Colovenierstraete, around thirty years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned with respect to the first, second, third and fourth articles of the defendant’s reply, witnesses and declares that he was at the defendant’s house, where the plaintiff also was, who was there inspecting the paintings unde quaestio [of which is the in question], when Jan Breugel, the deponent’s father, said that it was a pity that there were two or three poor ones among them, and that the plaintiff could have these remedied by Langen Jan or the painter Thulden (who was at the time in the city). The defendant then offered the same paintings to the plaintiff for four hundred Flemish pounds, saying that they were hardly worth less, and that otherwise they would be sent to England. The plaintiff said they should not be sent to England to those beggars (= protestants) , and that he would not bid a bad price, offering him eighteen hundred guilders. The deponent then heard the defendant say to the plaintiff that if there were not the bad ones among them, they would be worth ten times as much, and that he would not part with them for six hundred Flemish pounds.

With regard to the twentieth, twenty-first and twenty-second articles, the deponent says that he refers to his aforementioned deposition.

Ending herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE JAN PEER BREUGHEL
Depositum 21 aprilis 1661, presente domino Schoyte, commissario
[Statement made on 21 April 1661, in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


MATTHYS MUSSON – artist painter, resident in the Cammerstraete, sixty-two years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath, and questioned with respect to the seventeenth, eighteenth and twenty-seven articles of the defendant’s reply, witnesses and declares that in his, deponent’s, judgement, the painter Van Dyck never painted one and the same subject, but he had overpainted some of them, always as he thought fit, and the deponent had never seen such paintings by the same.

With regard to the twenty-seventh article, the deponent states that, in his opinion, if anyone wanted to give thirty Flemish pounds for one of the best paintings unde questio (in question), that he would have paid a good price for them.

Ending herewith, etc.

MATTHYS MUSSON
Depositum 23 aprilis 1661, presente domino Schoyte, commissario
[Statement made on 23 April 1661, in the presence of Dominus Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


CORNELIS DE BAILLIEU, artist painter, resident on the Steenhouwers veste, fifty-four years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, to his knowledge had never seen any paintings that painter Van Dyck supposedly painted twice. He had indeed seen paintings retouched by him, and which seemed to the deponent to be as good as the originals.

With regard to the twenty-seventh article, the deponent says that if anyone gave twenty-five Flemish pounds for one of the best paintings, unde quaestio [of which is the question], then the deponent thinks that this would be the value.

Ending herewith, etc.

CORNELIS DE BAELLIEU


GUILLIAM VERHAGEN, hood maker, resident in the Lange-Nieuwe straete, seventy-five years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned with respect to the twenty-sixth article of the same reply and the attestation required therein, witnesses and declares that forty-five or six years ago, although without remembering the exact time, he, the deponent, had commissioned the painter Antoni Van Dyck to paint the twelve apostles, and Our Lord, the deponent having seen said Van Dyck paint one of said paintings. The which paintings, after much insistence, were delivered to the deponent, with the deponent saying to said Van Dyck that some were better than the others, to which he replied that all things were not all equal. And his employees had asked the deponent to allow them to copy them; and Van Dyck has praised the paintings to the deponent, saying that they were very well made. The which paintings remained for a long time in the deponent’s house, during which time the painters Rubens, Segers, David Ryckaert, Wolfaert, Moermans and other art-lovers had come to the deponent’s house to view said paintings, praising the same paintings highly and admiring the art. The which paintings he, deponent, had sold and delivered to Cornelis Nuldens, about one year ago now.

Ending herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE GUILLIAM VERHAGEN
Depositum 29 aprilis 1661, presente domino Schoyte, commissario
[Statement made on 29 April 1661, in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


LEONORA MENNENS, wife of Guilliam Verhaeghen, sixty-eight years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that, forty-five or six years ago, that her deponent husband had commissioned from painter Antoni Van Dyck twelve apostles and Our Lord, the which paintings were brought and delivered to the deponent’s house. After the delivery, one of the employees of said painter Van Dyck had asked her husband, deponent, to allow him to copy them. The which employee copied two or three. These paintings had remained for many years in the deponent’s house, during which time many painters and other art-lovers had come to see the same, praising them highly, saying that they were very beautiful and they would serve him well in her old days. About more or less one year ago, the deponent’s husband had come home saying that he had sold the paintings to Cornelis Nuldens for six hundred guilders, showing her the money. The which paintings were fetched at the deponent’s house by a workman and carried to the house of the aforesaid Nulns.

Ending herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE LEONORA MENNES
Depositum 30 aprilis 1661, presente domino Schoyte, commissario
[Statement made on 30 April 1661, in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN (Original)

 

III. Defendant’s appeal and pleadings
Undated item60

Appeal and pleadings on behalf of PEETER MEULEWELS, defendant, against the Reverend FRANCISCUS HILLEWERVEN, priest and canon of the cathedral church of Our Lady of this city, plaintiff

  1. The aforementioned defendant, having seen the claim and conclusions served on him in law on behalf of the aforementioned plaintiff last, says to find in them that the plaintiff seems to distinguish between the paintings sold to him:
  2. viz. that some of them are purportedly painted by Van Dyck, others have been retouched by him and others being mere copies.
  3. In order to have a sure basis here,
  4. To this end the defendant calls on the plaintiff to name and designate pertinently which of said paintings he pretends to have been painted by said Van Dyck, which to have been retouched by the same, and also which are supposedly copied by others or which are supposedly copies.

Pleading the same issues to belong to the litigation of all sorts , cum expensis [with the costs thereof] , as the case may be.

Imploring etc.

And was signed HEN. BUDDENTOP (simple copy)

 

IV. Reply of the same defendant
Undated item[61

Reply and counterclaim on behalf of PEETER MEULEWELS, defendant, against the Reverend FRANCISCUS HILLEWERVEN, priest and canon of the cathedral church of Our Lady of this city, plaintiff

The aforementioned defendant, having seen the claim62 and pleadings, served on him by way of law by or on behalf of said plaintiff on … last, and stating, in response, without prejudice to his earlier petition, as a result of the judicial decision of the 20th of this month, says the following, amongst all things etc.

  1. Initially, that he accepts, with respect to the first article63, to his advantage that the plaintiff is required therein to admit to have purchased from the defendant certain paintings, consisting of twelve64 pieces, representing the twelve apostles, for the sum of 1900 guilders.
  2. That it is unlawful to state that the Saviour would have been sold to the plaintiff along with the other paintings.
  3. Because the which, subject to the negotiation of said twelve apostles, has been given as a gift to the plaintiff.
  4. With respect to the 2nd article, it is not other than true that the defendant sold said 12 paintings to the plaintiff as being painted by the asserten [asserted], famous artist painter Anthonio Van Dyck.
  5. The 3rd article is denied and nonetheless accepted to the advantage.
  6. Similarly also in regard to the 4th article, it is accepted to the advantage that the plaintiff sufficiently accepts that among said paintings are certain that were purportedly retouched by said Van Dyck.
  7. Although the plaintiff, as a result of the aforementioned defendant’s pleadings65, ought to have made a declaration to this end, which of said pieces were held to be totally painted by said Van Dyck and which simply retouched.
  8. The defendant nonetheless denying that there were certain copies among said pieces.
  9. It may be, as stated in article 5, that the plaintiff, at the instigation of some ill-minded person, has made some complaints to persons other than the defendant about the aforementioned pieces.
  10. And that the defendant answered thereto that the plaintiff should have the same visited in the painters’ chamber.
  11. And to seek to infer from this, as the plaintiff seeks to propose, that the defendant should leave the matter in principle and the question of the upholding or annulment of said purchase to the judgement of those persons of said painters’ chamber, is unfounded either de facto or de jure.
  12. For this, the allegations made in articles 5 and 7 are not pertinent to the case.
  13. Against article 7, the defendant states that he failed to appear, for the reason that the article did not and does not oblige him to.
  14. And that it had come to his knowledge that certain members of the chamber, who have the leading word in it, are persons who, so to speak, sit daily at the plaintiff’s table, who live in great friendship with him and have placed this wrangle into his head.
  15. Whereby the latter must be held not only under suspicion, but also deemed to be biased.
  16. With respect to articles 9 and 10, the defendant denies them, being ignorant of what is alleged in them, other than the impertinence (irrelevance) to the case of the same.66
  17. It is a fact known to all art-lovers that said Van Dyck, as well as the famous late painter Rubbens and others, painted one and the same subject on various occasions.
  18. In such a way that one can find different pieces on the same subject that often cannot be distinguished one from the other.
  19. And it should be possible, by means of a physical confrontation of the pieces, which the plaintiff invokes (dato sed non concesso (being given but not granted) that some of these are in rerum natura [ of such nature] as being of another nature than those unde quaestio [of which is the question], to determine which of both sorts would be judged to be the more beautiful.
  20. It is true, and the defendant will never deny it, that among said pieces unde quaestio [of which is the question], there are some that do not correspond in beauty and excellence to others among them.
  21. The plaintiff will not be able to deny either, in fide sacerdotis [according to the faith of a priest], that he was publicly warned of the same at the time of negotiating the sale.
  22. And that he was told that he should have the same remedied by Langen Jan or someone else, having a good hand.
  23. But to want for this reason to take legal action for annulment of said sale, and to want to maintain that the pieces are not painted by said Van Dyck, for this there is no foundation anywhere.
  24. And that some or all of the members of said painters’ chamber were of this opinion.
  25. For which reason the plaintiff is called upon to produce the same in front of witnesses and to counter the defendant totally in his tone and reproaches and further defence.
  26. To which end, the attestations of Guilliam Verhaegen and Jan Breugel67 have been communicated to the plaintiff by way of preparation.
  27. To which is further added that, if said pieces, unde quaestio [of which is the question], all were of equal beauty to certain of those among them, inquam [then I state that], the same would be worth three times as much as those that the defendant purchased.
  28. And a result of all this, pleading with further other reasons etc., the defendant contends to have the plaintiff[‘s complaint] declared, for having acted and pleaded against him, in the way and to the end that he has done, not to be acceptable, cum expensis [with the costs thereof].
  29. And taking the route of counterclaim, to have the counterclaim defendant required to admit, as per the first article of said claim and conclusions, to having purchased said paintings from the counterclaimant for the sum of 1900 guilders.
  30. Of which he also admits in the 3rd article not to have paid more than 1800 guilders;
  31. That he therefore still owes the sum of 100 guilders;
  32. Which the person against whom the counterclaim is made may not continue not to pay, on pretext of said proceedings for annulment;
  33. Given that it is public knowledge that such rude motivations for exceptions, which require further investigations, cannot delay the payment of an admitted debt;

Concluding therefore and contending that the defendant in the counterclaim be required to pay said 100 guilders, et salutariter, cum expensis [and to the benefice and with the costs thereof].

Imploring, etc.

(Original document)

I believe it my duty to follow this reply by the defendant with the duplicate of the plaintiff, which was in the folder. Apart from the facts alleged in it, one can read it as a sample of legal proceedings of the time.

 

V. Plaintiff’s duplicate
26 November 1660.

Justification and response in the counterclaim on behalf of the Reverend FRANCISCUS HILLEWERVEN, priest and canon of the cathedral church of Our Lady in this city, plaintiff and defendant in counterclaim, against PEETER MEULEWELS, defendant and counterclaimant.

Said plaintiff, in conformity with the injunction of 3 November last, answering each and every article of the defendant’s reply that really exists, states the following, under all due and customary declarations and protests.

  1. First of all, with respect to the first and second articles, he persists in stating that the defendant sold to him, defendant, the twelve apostles and the Saviour, for the sum mentioned in conclusion [in conclusion].
  2. In addition, he expressly denies the third article salvâ impertinentiâ [may we be saved from this irrelevance]].
  3. Against the fourth article, the plaintiff continues to insist that the thirteen pieces of painting were sold to Mr plaintiff as being principal and original paintings painted by Anthonius Van Dyck.
  4. In this same way he continues to deny the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth articles.
  5. The facts adduced in the ninth and thirteen articles are accepted quatenus pro68, and no further.
  6. Passing over the eleventh and twelfth articles and accepting quatenus pro the facts adduced in the thirteenth article.
  7. The contents of the fourteenth and fifteenth articles are expressly denied.
  8. Passing with persistit [while persisting] the sixteenth article, Mr plaintiff states that he is unaware of the seventeenth and eighteenth articles, salvâ notissimâ impertinentiâ may we be saved from this most notable irrelevance].
  9. Passing over similarly the de facto non-existent nineteenth article.
  10. The facts alleged in the twentieth article are clearly accepted.
  11. The twenty-first article is expressly denied.
  12. The twenty-second article is similarly denied, except that it is said that the Saviour’s beard needs changing somewhat, salvâ impertinentiâ [which is irrelevant here].
  13. Rejecting, as not relevant and not in facto existing, the following articles, up to twenty-six inclusive, the twenty-seventh article is also denied, with respect to the estimate made therein and accepting that the defendant recognizes that there is such a marked difference between the aforementioned pieces, which would not exist, if all paintings were painted by Van Dyck.

Maintaining that said Mr plaintiff and defendant in counterclaim have herewith fulfilled said injunction, and in the principal matter continuing, ut ante, cum expensis [as before, and demanding expenses].

And responding in reconventione (in the counterclaim), employs the content of his claim, pleading, with the reasons contained in the same, that this is inadmissible in forma, cum expensis [as to its form requirements with the costs thereof].

Imploring etc.

LAMBERTY, 1660
C. GEVAERTS69
Transmitted on 26 November 1660 (Original)

 

VI. Deposition in front of notary by painter Jean Breughel70
5 September 1660

On the aforementioned day, month and year71 and at the request as before72, appeared Jan Breugel, artist painter and former dean of the same, aged fifty-eight, and did declare and attest, as before, that he truly had, from his young years, a great knowledge of and familiarity with the very famous artist painter Van Dyck, now deceased, with whom, being of almost the same age, he was brought up, and that when they had reached a convenient age, were together in Italy, having and maintaining there the same familiarity and friendship, always communicating to each other the business and art of the one and the other. The deponent had the same communication and communion with the same Van Dyck when, returning from Italy, he resided in this city73, always has seen by and has been present when the same Van Dyck was working on new pieces and special works. Among which he, deponent, saw that, before the same moved to Italy, and was living with the Fratres minores at the Dom van Ceulen (Cologne cathedral), over here that he had been working on and had been painting the twelve apostles with Our Lord, and that the deponent had seen him painting one apostle after Peeter de Jode, now deceased, his uncle, whereupon he, the deponent, stated ‘What are you making?’ To which the aforesaid Van Dyck replied: ‘I will well make an attractive apostle of him.’ The which aforementioned paintings then came into the hands of said counterclaimant74, as he, the deponent, had understood and seen, and that he had sold the same to the Reverend Canon Hillewerven. The which aforementioned pieces he, the deponent, maintains and knows to have been painted by said artist Van Dyck in his own hand. Consenting also to have this deed delivered.

Actum [enacted], in the presence of aforementioned witnesses75, with the deponent signing the original copy.

Quod attestor [which I testify]. And was signed,
JOAN. VAN NOS, Not.s publicus [public notary]
(Simple copy)

 

VII. Statement before notary by dean Guillaume Verhagen
5 September 1660

In the year of Our Lord thousand sixhundred and sixty, on the fifth day of the month of September, at the request of Sr Peeter Meulewels, burgher of this city, before myself, Jan Van Nos, ordained and admitted to practice in Brabant by His Majesty’s council, and the witnesses named below, appeared Guillam Verhagen, former dean of the guild of the Young Longbowmen of this city, aged around seventy-five, and has declared and attested to be true, summoned and placed under oath, that between forty-four and forty-five years before, without his remembering the precise time, he, deponent, had commissioned the very famous artist painter Anthoni van Dyck to paint, in his own hand, the twelve apostles with Our Lord, the which were delivered to him by the same artist Van Dyck, and which remained for a long time in his houses, he, the deponent, having been several times in the house of the aforesaid artist painter Van Dyck, when he was in the process of completing the same paintings, on which he had seen the same Van Dyck working, and the which paintings he always has recommended to him, deponent, as being very well made and completed by this own hand. It being also true that when the aforesaid paintings were in his house, the very famous artists painters Petro-Paulo Rubens, Segers, David Ryckaert, now the former dean of painters, Wolfaert, art dealer Moermans and many others have come to visit him often, for the sole purpose of seeing and inspecting the aforesaid paintings, the which were amazed at the art of the same, which they always praised and acclaimed, as being made and completed by said artist painter Van Dyck in his own hand. The which paintings he, deponent, knows to have come into the hands of said counterclaimant, and which the counterclaimant has now sold and delivered to Canon Hillewerven, as he, deponent, has understood from the counterclaimant. Consenting to this deed being delivered.

Thus done and enacted in Antwerp, in the presence of Jan Simonart and Jan Sneleinck as witnesses. And the deponent signed the first copy.

(Simple copy)

 

VIII. Statements by witnesses cited by the plaintiff
November and December 1660

Witnesses heard on behalf of and at the request of Canon FRANCISCUS HILLEWERVEN, plaintiff and defendant in counterclaim, with respect to the contents of the articles, as described below, of the complaint and conclusion of the aforesaid plaintiff and defendant in counterclaim, against PEETER MEULEWELS, defendant and counterclaimant.

HERMAN SERVAES, painter, resident on the Minrebroeders Ruyde, in Sint-Anne, fifty-nine years old, witness, summoned and placed under oath, and questioned with respect to the fourth and eleventh articles of the claim76 of aforesaid plaintiff, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, examined on two occasions a Saviour and twelve apostles, sold, as he, deponent, understands, by the defendant to the plaintiff as original pieces by painter Antoni Van Dyck. All of these he, deponent, says not to be original, but only retouched copies, basing his knowledge on the fact that at the time the originals were painted by aforesaid Van Dyck, he, deponent, was at that time working with aforesaid Van Dyck, and saw him paint the originals, the deponent having at the time made some copies of the same, and also saw others also making some copies, and saw that said Van Dyck had retouched various of the said copies, the deponent is believing that among the paintings of which is the question there is still one apostle that the deponent copied, and which was retouched by the aforesaid Van Dyck, so that the deponent knows well that the paintings, unde questio [of which it is question], are not originals of the painter Antoni Van Dyck.

Concluding herewith his deposition, being neither winner nor loser in the matter, nor in partnership with the parties.

H. SERVAES


BONAVENTURE CORNELISSEN, frame-maker, resident in the Schuttershoffstraete, aged around thirty-nine, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, and the aforesaid Servaes, along with Jan-Baptista Van Eyck, talking of the twelve apostles and a Saviour, told someone that these had been sold as Van Dyck originals, whereupon the aforesaid Servaes said that he had painted one of the aforesaid twelve apostles.

Concluding herewith, etc.

BONAVENTUER CORNELIS


JUSTUS-VERUS DEGMONT, artist painter, resident in the Arenberch straete, fifty-eight years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned, as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, having inspected at the plaintiff’s house one Saviour and twelve apostles which the plaintiff said to have been sold to him as originals by painter Antoni Van Dyck, judges that all the same are for the most part retouched copies of the aforesaid Van Dyck. He then judges, in his opinion, that there are among them some painted by the aforesaid Antoni Van Dyck, the deponent having made various copies after the originals of the aforesaid Van Dyck. And the deponent thinks that, among the paintings unde quaestio [of which is the question], one or two were copied by the deponent and retouched by the aforesaid Van Dyck.

Concluding herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE JUSTUS VERUS AB EGMONT
Depositum 11 novembris 1660, presente domino
Schoyte, commissario
[stated on 11 November 1660 in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


HUBERTUS SPORCKMANS, artist painter, resident in the Oudtr Daentken (Oudaenstraat), forty years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath, and questioned about the first and second articles of the claim and conclusion of the aforesaid plaintiff, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, talking to the defendant about the paintings unde quaestio [of which is the question], thinking and holding firmly to the fact that the defendant then said that he had sold the aforesaid paintings to the plaintiff as originals, and that he himself believed this, being unable to say anything than that the defendant has said so, and that he cannot declare the same affirmatively (given the length of time).

With respect to the fourth and eleventh articles of the same claim, the deponent says that he, deponent, having visited the litigious painting, judges the same not to be original pieces painted by the painter Antoni Van Dyck, but copies, all retouched by the aforesaid Van Dyck, there being among the aforesaid paintings a number that the aforesaid Van Dyck has heavily retouched, and also ones to which he had done little.

Concluding herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE HUBERTUS SPORCKMANS
Depositum 13 novembris 1660, presente domino
Schoyte, commissario
[stated on 13 November 1660 in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


JAN BOUCKHORST, artist painter, resident in the Hoplandt, fifty years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned with respect to the fourth and eleventh articles of the plaintiff’s claim, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, having seen at the plaintiff’s house one Saviour and twelve apostles, says and judges the same not to be originals painted by painter Antoni Van Dyck, but retouched copies, said Van Dyck having painted heavily by way of retouching certain of the same paintings and others very little.

Concluding herewith, etc.

JOHAN BOCHORST


MATTHYS MUSSON, artist painter, resident in the Cammerstraete, sixty-two years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as to the first and second articles of the plaintiff’s claim, witnesses and declares to know nothing of the matter.

With respect to the fourth and eleventh articles, declarant declares that he, deponent, has seen the Saviour and twelve apostles at the plaintiff’s house, and says and judges that the same are not originals painted by painter Antoni Van Dyck.

Concluding herewith, etc.

MATTHYS MUSSON


DAVID RYCKAERT, artist painter, resident at the Church of our Lady, forty-five years old, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, has seen, to the best of his knowledge, the Saviour and twelve apostles nowhere else than at the house of the plaintiff in this case, and at that occasion said and judged; just as the deponent says and judges, that the same are not originals painted by the painter Antoni Van Dyck, but retouched copies.

Concluding herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE DAVID RYCKAERT
Depositum 23 novembris 1660, presente domino
Schoyte, commissario
[stated on 23 November 1660 in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN


JACQUES JORDAENS, artist, sixty-six years old77, witness, summoned, placed under oath and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, having seen the Saviour and twelve apostles today, at the plaintiff’s house, and having seen the same previously, judges that all of them are merely copies retouched by Van Dyck, some of which are better than others.

Concluding herewith, etc.

Juravit tantum per Deum78 [He has taken the oath solely by God]

JACQUES JORDAENS


ABRAHAM VAN DIEPENBEEK, artist painter, resident in the Everdeystraete, more than sixty years old79, witness, summoned, placed under oath, and questioned as above, witnesses and declares that he, deponent, having seen the aforesaid paintings, judges all of the same to be retouched copies of the painter Van Dyck, said Van Dyck having painted more on the one than the other, and the deponent himself judges that the same Van Dyck has not painted certain parts of the same paintings, among others, a left hand of one of the same apostles.

Concluding herewith, etc.

PHILIBERT SCHOYTE ABRAHAM VAN DIEPENBEECK
Depositum 16 novembris 1660, presente domino
Schoyte, commissario
[stated on 16 November 1660 in the presence of Sir Schoyte, commissioner]
J. VERREYCKEN
(Original)

IX. Subsequent declaration by painter Jacques Jordaens, made in front of a notary
11 July 1661

On today’s date, the eleventh of July, sixteen sixty-one, appeared before me, Johannes-Baptista Lamberty, notary, ordained by the council of His Royal Majesty and admitted to practice in Brabant, and residing in Antwerp, Sr Jacques Jordaens, artist painter, resident of this city and at the request of Franciscus Hilwerven, master in both laws and canon of the cathedral church of our Lady in this city, has declared, attested and affirmed, on his honour, in place of oath, which he is always ready to do if necessary and so requested, the following to be true: first and in particular, that he has seen the same twelve apostles and one Saviour, located in the house of the aforesaid Canon Hilwerven, declares the same to be solely copies, overpainted to a certain extent by the famous artist painter Antonio Van Dyck. In addition. Then said deponent says that he saw the originals in this city in the year XVIc twenty-two or thereabout, not included, the which at the time were purchased by a certain Henricus Vuylenborch, whom the deponent knew well and with whom he had done various pieces of business. The which originals by Antonio Van Dyck he, deponent, had seen three days before Pentecost of the present year in Utrecht, where they right now should still be.

The attestor, ending herewith his declaration, declares that he neither gains nor loses by the same, but does the same solely in favour of justice, and whereas it is honest and pious to give true witness, especially when requested to do the same, consenting to the same in front of me, notary, done and to be delivered to the same counterclaimant one or more instruments in forma [in due form].

Enacted on the day, month and year aforesaid. And said deponent has signed the original copy of this document, together with me, notary.

Quod attestor
J. B.ta LAMBERTY, not.[notary]s
(Authenticated copy)

 

X. Attestation made in front of notary by painter Abraham Snellinck
29 October 1660

On today’s date, the twenty-ninth of October, sixteen sixty, appeared before me, Johannes-Baptista Lamberty, notary80, ordained by the council of His Royal Majesty and admitted to practice in Brabant, and residing in Antwerp, and in the presence of the witnesses listed below Sr Abraham Snellincx, painter, aged in his sixties, who declared, attested and affirmed, at the request of lord and master Franciscus Hilewerven, priest and canon of the cathedral church of Our Lady in this city, master in both laws, on his honour, solemnly swearing as requested, that the original pieces of the famous master Antonius Van Dyck, artist, viz. the twelve apostles with the Saviour, being thirteen individual pieces, were bought by a person named ….. Bontemuts, who took the same with him abroad, being, according to his guess, about thirty-six years ago, rather more than less. Said attestor also declared that some copies of the aforesaid apostles had been made, and retouched by the aforesaid Van Dyck, which were for some time in the house of Elias Voet, talking from knowledge, alleging to have seen the same and to have been present there.

This he, deponent, declared to be his deposition, without gaining or losing from the same, nor to be in partnership, but does the same solely in favour of justice, and whereas it is honest and pious to give true witness, especially when requested to do the same.

Enacted on the day, month and year aforesaid, in the presence of Joncker81 Johannes Smits, lieutenant of horse of H(is) C(atholic) M(ajesty) of Spain, and Sr Gonzalo Coques, as witnesses. And said attestor has signed the original copy of this document, together with me, notary.

Quod attestor
J. B.ta LAMBERTY, not.[notary]s
(Authenticated copy)

 

XI. Attestations by Jean-Baptiste Van Eyck, Bonaventure Cornelissen and Gonzales Coques
29 October 1660

On today’s date, the twenty-ninth of October, sixteen sixty, appeared before me, Johannes-Baptista Lamberty, notary, etc., Sr Jan-Baptista Van Eyck, merchant of this city, and Bonaventure Cornelissen, frame-maker, both burghers and residents of this city, who declared, attested and affirmed, at the request of lord and master Franciscus Hilwerven, priest and canon of the cathedral church of Our Lady in this city, master in both laws, , on their honour, being ready to swear an oath, if required, that they, attestors, had heard Herman Servaes, artist painter, say, among other matters they discussed, that the certain twelve apostles with a Saviour, being thirteen separate items, purchased by the aforesaid canon, as he declared, from Peeter Meulewels, as original items by the famous artist, master Anthonius Van Dyck, were not originals, but copies, saying by way of further confirmation of the same to have himself painted one of the same.

There appeared with them Sr Gonzales Coques, artist painter, who, having heard the above from the attestor, joined him together with aforesaid Servaes, and led the same to the house of canon Hilwerven, and showed him there the aforementioned pieces, who replied to him the same thing as written above, adding and designating one of the same with his finger, saying that he himself had painted it at the house of the aforesaid master Anthonius Van Dyck, and just as aforesaid latter attestor affirms the same to be only copies retouched by Van Dyck and in no way originals.

Concluding herewith their deposition, etc.

Enacted on the day, month and year aforesaid, with said attestors signing the original copy of this document, together with me, notary.

Quod attestor
J. B.ta LAMBERTY, not.[notary]s
(Authenticated copy)

 

XII. Declaration of the four deans of the confraternity of Saint Luke in Antwerp
6 November 1660

The deans of the guild of Saint Luke, , both the old and the current oath being gathered in competent number in their chamber at the request of Canon Hillewerven,, in order to judge twelve apostles with one Saviour, whether the said apostles and Saviour are originals painted by Mr Antonio Van Dyck or not: the aforesaid deans having visited and inspected the aforesaid pieces, declare and judge unanimously, on their oaths, made them as deans, that the aforesaid pieces are not originals or fully painted by said Mr Antonio Van Dyck, but that said Antonio Van Dyck has painted on said pieces, some more, some less.

Thus judged at the aforesaid chamber of the Guild of Saint Luke, date as above.

PEETER VERBRUGHEN
PEETER THYS
HUBERTUS SPORCKMANS
PEETER THOMAS
(Original)

Notes

1. The son of Corneille and Mechtilde Tolincx. His brothers were Frédéric, a canon of St Donatian’s cathedral in Bruges, and Henri, the most distinguished benefactor of St James’ church in Antwerp in the 17th century. François was canonicus graduatus of our city’s cathedral and penitentiary of the same church. To him it owed the altar of Sainte-Barbe, demolished in 1798, and which he had had decorated with a superb copy of the Saviour on the Cross by Antony Van Dyck, owned by the church of the Capuchins of Dendermonde. This copy, by the famous painter Thomas Willeborts Boschart, still exists and is currently in the chapel of the charity office (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

2. Probably the son of Pierre Meulewels the Elder, apprentice painter in 1618-1619. The latter was ordained priest, no doubt after the death of this wife (like Henri Hillewerve) and died in 1664. He has left poetry. (Liggeren de la Gilde de St-Luc, à Anvers, transcrits et annotés par PH. ROMBOUTS et TH. VAN LERIUS, lawyer, vol. 1, p. 550, and footnote 2, ibid.) I have not encountered the young Pierre among the free masters of St. Luke, in whose number merchants in paintings were required to be received. The absence of the qualification Heer (Sir), constantly given to ecclesiastics, shows moreover that we are not dealing here with the father, whose wife had died some time between 18 September 1631 and 18 September 1632. It is indeed on this latter date that the accounts of the guild of St Luke mention the payment of her death debt. (Information from Mr Van Lerius).

3. I speak here on the basis of a motivum juris [a lawful proof], which will be mentioned later. If we are to believe Breughel’s assertions, things did not happen this way. (See below this painter’s assertions, and Meulewel’s reply, Justificatory documents, no. IV).

4. Lib. II, tit. 1; de jurisdictione [on jurisdiction]; lib. IV, tit III, de dolo malo [on with evil intention, on bad faith]; lib. XIX, tit. 1, de actionibus empti et venditi [on the acts of purchasing and sellings]. The opinion of the lawyer, Master Lamberty, which the plaintiff produced in writing, seems to me curious enough to be included in the justificatory documents added to this report (see no. I). This opinion is in Flemish, as are all the other documents of the court case.

5. We need to remember that previously pleadings in court were presented in writing and not orally, except for certain incidents.

Among the documents of this case that I have collected, there is the defendant’s reply to the plaintiff’s aenspraecke (claim). As it is essential to know this reply in order to understand the depositions of the witnesses called by the said defendant, and which are analysed later, I have been unable to dispense myself from reproducing it, as well as the plea and supporting arguments (style of the time) which had preceded it. In this document Meulewels summoned the adversary to designate specifically the paintings painted by Van Dyck and those retouched by this master. (See Justificatory documents, nos III and IV.)

6. To this text, in which we will find details of the age and dwellings of the artists, we add facsimiles of their signatures (see ad calcem [at the foot of the article]).

7. Justificatory documents, no II.

8. We shall see later that certain witnesses were cited by both parties.

9.Jan Breughel, or more exactly Brueghel, was the son of Jan Brueghel the Velvet, and of Elisabeth or Isabelle de Jode, the daughter of engraver Gérard, the Elder. He was born in Antwerp in September 1601 and married, on 5 July 1626, Anne-Marie Janssens, the daughter of the famous painter Abraham Janssens Van Nuyssen, and of Sara Goetkint. The Jan Brueghel in question painted landscapes, flowers and animals, sometimes also human figures like hermits with much talent. (See the details supplied by Mr Van Lerius, pp. 22-24 of the Supplément au Catalogue du Musée d’Anvers, 1863).

‘Our Jan Brueghel the Younger’, says Mr Van Lerius, has remained, so to speak, unknown to the writers who have concerned themselves with research on our school.’

10. Justificatory documents, no. VI.

11. Pieter de Jode the Elder, a meritworthy engraver, was the brother of Isabelle de Jode, first wife of Jan Brueghel the Velvet and the mother of Jan Brueghel the Younger. (Communication from Mr Van Lerius.) This is therefore the witness’s uncle.

12. See at the top of the Justificatory Document no II.

13. ‘If we are to believe the biographers’, says Mr Van Lerius (Catal. Du musée d’Anvers, p. 245) ‘Theodor Van Thulden was born in ‘s Hertogenbosch, in 1607. We have the authentic proof that the place where our painter was born is precisely indicated, but as to the date assigned to his birth, we accept 1607 only with reservations.

‘According to the archives of our St Luke’s corporation, Van Thulden was registered in 1621-1622 as the apprentice of Abraham Blyenberch. Caspertius Gevartius (Gaspar Gevaerts) also states, in the preface of the Pompa Introitus of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, that Theodor was the pupil of Rubens. Van Thulden, admitted as a master in the confraternity of St Luke in 1626-1627, obtained citizen’s rights in our city on Tuesday 18 November 1636.’

After spending some time in Paris, where he painted several paintings, Van Thulden returned to Antwerp, marrying, on 24 July 1635, Marie Van Balen, the daughter of the famous painter Hendrick Van Balen the Elder, and of Marguerite Briers. The date of his death is not known.

‘This master’, adds the author from whom we take these details, successfully painted both historical scenes and portraits, and representations of familiar scenes, like fairs, kermesses, etc.’ It was he and Rubens who did the designs for the triumphal arches, chariots and other ornaments for the triumphal entry into Antwerp, in 1635, of the Cardinal-Infante, the brother of Philippe IV. Van Thulden later engraved these models for the above-quoted work, of which he was himself the author. (See the details supplied by Mr Van Lerius on painting no. 376 in the above-mentioned Catalogue.)

14. Jan Boeckhorst, known as Langen Jan, because of his great height. See the note dedicated to him later in this text.

15. The original text is not very clear at this point.

16. I have under my eyes family papers which prove that this excellent painter of historical subjects and portraits was born in Leiden and not in Antwerp. (See the Liggeren, vol. 1, pp. 516,520, 650 and 658.) Communication from Mr Van Lerius, who refers also to an interesting work by M. A. Jal, Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d’histoire; Paris, 1867, a large 1326-page in-8° time. Mr Jal has given several previously unknown details on Van Egmont, but among other errors, he has committed that of confusing the master with his bastard son Constantin, whom he had from Émérence Bosschart, who later became his legitimate wife. This child was baptized in Saint James’ Church, Antwerp on 19 September 1624.

17. See also later his declaration for the plaintiff.

18. By Van Dyck, apparently.

19. He was the son of the famous painter Abraham Janssens, the Elder, and of Sara Goetkint, and brother-in-law of Jan Breughel the Younger, who had married his sister Marie Janssens. He was registered as a master’s son in the painters’ corporation [Guild of St Luke] in 1636-1637. (See the above-quoted Catalogue, p. 149). Mr Van Lerius has found in the baptismal register of the church of Our Lady the baptismal deed of Abraham Janssens the Younger. Here is the literal copy: 1616, novembr. 23, Abraham, (Parentes): Abraham Janssens van Nuyssens (sic), Sara Goetkind. (Susceptores) Chrisostomus Van Immerseel, Elisabeth Goetkint.

20. Jean-Pierre Breughel. Son of Jan the Younger and Anne-Marie Janssens, baptised at Saint Georges in Antwerp on 29 August 1628, admitted to the St Luke’s guild as the son of a master, in 1645-1646. (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

21. Free master of the Guild of St Luke, in 1621-1622. (See the Liggeren, vol. I, pp 576, 577, 583). He was dean of the Guild of St Luke in 1647-1648 (See Communication from Mr Van Lerius)

22. The witness probably meant that Van Dyck never painted the same subject twice?

23. The text is unclear here.

24. Corneille de Baellieur, the Elder, an excellent painter of bas-reliefs. He was registered in 1617-1618 as a pupil of Antoine Lissart and admitted in 1625-1626 as a master’s son. (Liggeren, vol I, pp. 542, 625). In 1644-1645 he fulfilled the functions of dean of the Guild of St Luke. He was a family relation of the famous engraver Pierre de Balliu. The so-called biographers of our masters have changed into Bailly the name of this family of artists, the spelling of which changed frequently (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

25. See Justificatory documents, no. VII.

26. Did not the witness make a mistake? He is referring to 1615 or thereabouts, when Van Dyck was only about fifteen years old.

27. This is Gerard Zegers, the friend of Rubens and Van Dyck, of whom Mr Van Lerius has given a detailed biography in the above-cited Catalogue, pp. 196-198.

28. See later footnote.

29. Artus Wolfaert, a very good painter of historical and interior scenes, free master of St Luke in 1616-1617. (Liggeren, vol. I, pp. 534, 558, 565). Communication from Mr Van Lerius.

30. The is probably Jacques Moermens, admitted in 1621-1622 to the Violette rhetoricians chamber and whom Mr Philippe Rombouts and myself have confused with Jacques Moermans, painter, an apprentice of P.-P. Rubens in the same year and who became a free master only in 1629-1630; his death duty was paid on 21 December 1653. Jacques Moermans, the art lover (liefhebber’), is mentioned in the guild accounts of 1629-1630 as having paid his debt to the Violette rhetoricians’ chamber, following his death or resignation. (Communication from Mr Van Lerius)

31. See ad calcem (at the foot) of Justificatory document no. II.

32. See the text. It is obscure.

33. See Justificatory documents, no. VIII.

34. It is to be noted that the Liggeren and other accounts of the St Luke’s guild make no mention of any apprentice of Anthony Van Dyck. We conclude from this omission that this great artist would, like Rubens, have been dispensed by the sovereign authority from the requirement to register his pupils in the famous confraternity. Herman Servaes was admitted to it as a free master in 1650-1651 (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

35. Hubert Sporckmans, a good painter of historical scenes and portraits, baptized in the church of St James in Antwerp on 13 October 1619, a pupil of P.-P. Rubens, free master of the guild of St Luke in 1640-1641, dean in 1659-1660. See my communications to the article in the Journal des Beaux-Arts of Mr A. SIRET, 1863, pp. 8 and 29. The Antwerp city hall possesses a painting by this master; in which we see some very beautiful portraits. Item no.. 494 of the Antwerp Museum, the Amphitheatre, an anatomy lesson, was also painted by this artist. This canvas contains some superbly done effigies. We regret that it is deposited in a workshop instead of being on exhibition in the Museum (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

36. Boeckhorst, known as Langen Jan, was born at Münster in Westphalia. He died in Antwerp on 21 April 1668 and was buried in the church of St James. He distinguished himself as a painter of historical scenes and of portraits. Mr Van Lerius (Catalogue p. 270) has given us descriptions of several ofthis paintings, which he praises. This learned critic, in a handwritten note on Lange Jan which he communicated to me, says this: ‘I have in front of me an original deed, in Flemish, where the master signs as Johan Boeckhorst, without van. In it he says that he is the son of Henri, born in Münster in Westphalia and is 34 years old, on 10 September 1639, which makes his year of birth to be 1605. This date is exact, as the writer of the deed has replaced by 34 the figure of 33 that he had begun to write out in full.’

37.David Ryckaert the third. Mr Van Lerius has devoted a long article to him and his family in the above-mentioned Catalogue, Supplément, pp. 60-68. This author notes that Ryckaert took advantage of the lessons of his father (David Ryckaert the second) and was a successful representer of rustic buildings, stables, family scenes, still life objects, Temptations of St Anthony, sorcery scenes, etc. He excelled in painting candlelight scenes. He enjoyed the favour of Archduke Leopold, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, and died in 1661.

38. See an interesting biography of this great artist in the above-mentioned Catalogue, pp. 201-204.

39. Jordaens’ attestation, which I found after the other documents, is given in full in the Justificatory documents, no. IX.

40. Born at ‘s Hertogenbosch in 1599, a date derived from the text of Van Diepenbeeck’s statement, reproduced later. (See his biographical notice in the above-quoted Catalogue, p. 249.) This great painter of historical scenes took up permanent residence in Antwerp around 1629 during the surrender of ‘s Hertogenbosch to the United Provinces. He married, in June 1637, at Schelle, Catherine Heuvick, the daughter of a notary, of whom he had eight children. He died in 1675, after a second marriage with Anne Van den Dort, who gave him a further four children.

41. Born in Antwerp on 13 August 1597. He was the son of Jan Snellinck, the Elder, and Pauline Cuypers. He was admitted in 1638 as a free master of the guild of St Luke. On 27 October 1638 he married Anna Marie Richard, from whom he had two sons (See the long notice on Snellinck the Elder inserted in the supplement to the above-mentioned Catalogue, pp. 5-19.)

42. Gonzalve Cocx known as Coques, an excellent portrait painter, baptized in the church of Our Lady in Antwerp on 8 December 1614, son of Pierre and Anne Beys, admitted as a master in 1640-1641, died on 18 April 1684, after being married twice and having fulfilled the functions of dean of St Luke in 1665-1666 and in 1680-1681. (Mr Van Lerius, Supplément au Catalogue du Musée d’Anvers p. 70.)

43. This date brings us close to the one given above by Jordaens.

44. Master’s son, received as an art-lover (‘liefhebber’) in the Guild of St Luke in 1622-1623. (Liggeren, vol. I, pp. 586, 588.) Communication from Mr Van Lerius.

45. See Snellinck’s in extenso declaration in the Justificatory documents, no. X.

46. See the attestations of Van Eyck, Cornelis or Cornelissen and Conques in the notarial deed, no. XI of the Justificatory documents.

47. Pierre Verbruggen, the Elder, a statue carver of great merit. Liggeren, vol. 1, p. 462, 620. (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

48. Pupil of Artus Deurweerders in 1635-1636, free master in 1644-1645, dean in 1661-1662. (See TH. VAN LERIUS, Catalogue du Musée d’Anvers, article on Pierre Thys the Elder, and Supplément, p. 85.).

49. See above, p. 573, footnote

50. Painter, apprentice in 1634-1635, with no indication of master; free master in 1645-1646, dean in 1658-1659. (Communication from Mr Van Lerius).

51. Justificatory documents, no. XII.

52. Perhaps a settlement was ultimately reached between the canon and Meulewels, as the judges frequently sought to achieve a reconciliation between the parties.

53. Letter of 29 August 1868. I take the opportunity to thank Mr Van Lerius for the trouble he has taken to enrich my little work with his notes.

54. This letter replaces the canon’s name

55. See the following piece no. III

56. Ibid.

57. See the following piece no. III

58. Same formula as the previous statement.

59. i.e. the alderman acting as judge-commissioner of oaths]

60. I believe it to date from 13 October 1660

61. I believe it to date from 20 October 1660

62. This piece is missing in the dossier

63. Of the plaintiff’s claim

64. I have in front of me a series of engravings done by Cornelius Galle the Younger, after
Anton Van Dyck and representing, apart from the Saviour and the Holy Virgin, the following apostles: 1) St Peter, 2) St Paul, 3) St Andrew, 4) St James, the Great, 5) St John, 6) St Thomas, 7) St James, the Less, 8) St Philip, 9) St Bartholomew, 10) St Matthew, 11) St Simon, 12) St Judas Thaddeus, 13) St Matthias.

One can ask oneself whether some of these figures were reproduced from the originals mentioned in the court case (memo of Mr Van Lerius).

65. See the preceding piece

66.This is the opposite of pertinens. The word ‘pertinent’ is still in use in legal wording these days. The impertinent allegations of yesteryear are translated today as non-pertinentes.

67. See pieces VI and VII following

68. i.e. in so far as is favourable to the plaintiff

69. This is the famous Antwerp city secretary, and a friend of Rubens.

70. This statement is inserted in the deed containing that of Willem Verhagen. It comes in second place (see following piece).

71. 5 September 1660

72. Of Meulewels

73. Antwerp

74. Meulewels

75. See the following piece

76. This piece is lacking.

77. This is the sole witness whose place of residence is not indicated

78. Jordaens had embraced the reformed religion. (See what Mr T Van Lerius reports on this subject in the memo he has devoted to Jordaens in the Catal. du Musée d’Anvers, loc. cit). This dispensation granted to Jordaens shows the degree of progress made in the ideas of religious tolerance in the second half of the seventeenth century.

79. This puts Van Diepenbeeck’s birthdate in 1599. People have tried in vain to establish the year of birth of this great artist. (See Mr Van Lerius on this in his above-cited Catal., part 1, p. 249.)

80. His protocols no longer exist in the collection kept in the Antwerp City Hall

81. Title normally given to a nobleman (translator’s note)