Van der Doort, Abraham (DNB00)

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VAN DER DOORT [DORT], ABRAHAM (d. 1640), medallist and keeper of Charles I's collections, was a native of Holland, and was at first employed as a modeller in the service of the emperor Rudolph II. It is uncertain when he came to England, but it must have been previous to 1612, when he appears to have been in the service of Henry Frederick, prince of Wales [q. v.] The prince having wished to possess ‘an Imbost in coloured wax so big as the life, a woman's head laid in with silver and gold, made by Vanderdoort for the Emperor Rodolphus,’ had promised Van der Doort the post of keeper of the prince's cabinet and medals in the newly erected palace of Whitehall. Henry died before the promise could be carried out; but his brother Charles appears to have retained Van der Doort's services. On Charles's accession to the crown in 1625 he appointed Van der Doort designer for his coinage with a salary, and three years later added the post for life of keeper of his majesty's cabinet-room with an additional salary. The king took a great personal interest in his collections, and there are notes of his visits to Van der Doort and conversations about the medals, coins, and other rarities. In 1638 and the following year Van der Doort compiled a catalogue of the royal collections of pictures, limnings, statues, bronzes, medals, and other curiosities. The original manuscript appears to be that among the Ashmolean manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, comprising a first draft with corrections and additions by Van der Doort himself (Ashmol. MS. 1514) and a fair copy (Ashmol. MS. 1513). This catalogue was transcribed and prepared for press, not very correctly, by George Vertue [q. v.], the engraver, and was finished and published by W. Bathoe in 1757. A fair copy, made by Van der Doort for the king's own use, formerly in Horace Walpole's library, was acquired in 1874 for the royal library at Windsor Castle. Van der Doort's catalogue forms the most precious record of Charles I's splendid collection, which was dispersed by the Commonwealth a few years later. So keen was Van der Doort's interest, and so strong his sense of responsibility for the valuable collections under his charge, that in 1640, when the king asked for a miniature of the ‘Lost Sheep’ by Gibson, and it could not be found, Van der Doort committed suicide by hanging himself. After his death the miniature was found and restored by his executors. In November 1628 Secretary Conway tried to negotiate a marriage between Van der Doort and Louisa, relict of James Cole, presumably an eligible widow. It is not recorded whether the result was successful. The poet George Rodolph Weckherlin [q. v.] wrote an epigram on Van der Doort's death. A portrait of Van der Doort, painted by W. Dobson, was formerly in the Houghton collection.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum; Fine Arts Quarterly Review; Sanderson's Graphice, 1658; Rye's England as seen by Foreigners; Catalogue of Charles I's Collection, ed. Bathoe, 1757.]

L. C.