Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ketel, Cornelis

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1443088Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 31 — Ketel, Cornelis1892Lionel Henry Cust

KETEL, CORNELIS (1548–1616), portrait-painter, born at Gouda in Holland on 18 March 1548, was the illegitimate son of Govert Jansz van Proyen, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob Ketel. His father's daughter was married to Wouter Pietersz Crabeth, the famous glass-painter at Gouda. Ketel showed an early aptitude for painting, and was instructed in the art, especially in glass-painting, by his uncle, Cornelis Jacobsz Ketel, at Gouda. There his work attracted the notice of the glass-painter Dirk Crabeth, brother of Wouter Pietersz Crabeth. In 1565 Ketel went to Delft to study under Anthonie Blocklandt, and thence in 1566 to France, where he was associated with other young artists from the Netherlands on work at Fontainebleau. He resided for some time at Paris with the court glass-painter, Jean de la Hamée. In 1568 he returned to Gouda, to avoid the religious wars in France, and practised there for six years. In 1573 he came to England, and worked in London for eight years. He lodged with a statuary, who was a friend of his uncle, and received commissions from the Hanse merchants at the Steelyard. It is stated that a merchant friend presented to Sir Christopher Hatton [q. v.] an allegorical painting by him of ‘Force Vanquished by Wisdom,’ and that he thus obtained an introduction to court circles. He undoubtedly soon obtained a high reputation among the English nobility as a portrait-painter. He painted Hatton at full length more than once; examples of the portrait are in the collections both of the Earl of Winchilsea (Tudor Exhibition, 1890, No. 345) and of Viscount Dillon at Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire. He also painted, among others, Henry Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (one is in the collection of the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle (Tudor Exhibition, 1890, No. 211), and another in that of the Marquis of Bath at Longleat, Wiltshire); Edward Clinton, first earl of Lincoln (in the collection of the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey); James Hamilton, second earl of Arran (in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton at Hamilton Palace); Edward Vere, earl of Oxford; Sir James Gresham (1579) (in the collection of G. W. Leveson-Gower at Titsey); and Sir George Penruddocke (Tudor Exhibition, 1890, No. 222). In 1577 Ketel was employed to paint for Queen Elizabeth and the Cathay Company portraits of Sir Martin Frobisher [q. v.] and the Esquimaux brought back by him to England from Greenland; as well as of Frobisher's ship, the Gabriel. The portrait of Frobisher is now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Tudor Exhibition, 1890, No. 327). In 1578 the Duchess of Somerset received Elizabeth in state at Hanworth, Middlesex, and her son, the Earl of Hertford, employed Ketel to paint a portrait of the queen to celebrate the occasion. Ketel returned to Holland in 1581, having married in England Aeltgen (Adelaide) Gerrits, by whom he had a son, Raphael, baptised at Amsterdam on 16 Nov. 1581.

Ketel now settled at Amsterdam, where he quickly became the leading portrait-painter. He was especially patronised by the guilds of marksmen, for whom he painted some large groups of portraits, and was the forerunner in this line of Frans Hals and Van der Helst. Two of these portrait-groups are now in the Ryksmuseum at Amsterdam, one, painted in 1588, showing a group under the corporalship of Dirk Rosencrans; the other was painted in 1596. Four similar pictures in the same museum are attributed to Ketel, and portraits of Jacob Bas, burgomaster of Amsterdam, in 1581, and of Grietje Codde, his wife, painted in 1586, are in the same collection. Four portraits by Ketel are in the collection of Mr. Hugo Gevers at the Hague. Carel van Mander, the intimate friend and biographer of Ketel, who wrote while Ketel was still living, gives a list of the principal works executed by Ketel in Amsterdam, in cluding his allegorical and poetical productions. From him we learn that Ketel in his later years took to modelling in wax, painting entirely with his fingers instead of brushes, and finally in 1600 painting with his feet alone. Ketel died at Amsterdam in 1616, and was buried on 8 Aug. in the old church there. In a will dated 16 March 1610, to which he added numerous codicils, he mentions his wife, Aeltgen Jans, apparently his second wife, and a son Andries, who died young.

Ketel frequently painted his own portrait: one, at Hampton Court, was engraved by H. Bary. Two allegorical pictures by him, ‘The Triumph of Virtue’ and ‘The Triumph of Vice,’ painted for an Amsterdam merchant, were subsequently in the collection of the Duke of Buckingham. Ketel was one of the most remarkable portrait-painters of his time, and such works of his as have survived are of the highest interest. Pieter Isaacsz, the famous painter in Denmark, was his pupil.

[Carel van Mander's Livre des Peintres, ed. Hymans, 1885; Bredius's Meisterwerke des Ryksmuseums zu Amsterdam; Bredius's Catalogue of the Ryksmuseum; Taurel's L'Art Chrétien en Hollande, ii. 176; Oud Holland, iii. 74; Obreen's Archief voor Nederlandsche Kunstgeschiedenis, iii. 62, &c.; Vertue's MSS. (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 23068); Scharf's Catalogue of Pictures at Woburn Abbey; Law's Catalogue of the Pictures at Hampton Court; Tudor Exhibition Catalogue.]

L. C.