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Netscher, Caspar
Dutch, 1639 - 1684
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Biography

Caspar Netscher was probably born in 1636 or 1639 in Heidelberg or Prague.[1] After the death of his father around 1640–1642, the family appears to have moved to Arnhem, where Netscher apparently attended the local Latin School before taking drawing lessons with Hendrick Coster (active 1638–1659).[2] Around 1654–1655 Netscher moved to Deventer to study with Gerard ter Borch the Younger (1617–1681).[3] His apprenticeship there is confirmed by signed copies he made after Ter Borch’s work as well as by his presence as a model in the National Gallery of Art’s The Suitor’s Visit by Ter Borch.

Netscher remained in Ter Borch’s studio until about 1658–1660 and, like his teacher, became an outstanding portraitist and a master of portraying the social interactions of the Dutch elite. He also developed an exquisite painting technique that allowed him to imitate a wide range of textures, whether linen, satin, or the rough nap of an oriental rug. Around 1659 Netscher traveled to Bordeaux, where he met and married his wife, Margareta.[4] The couple and their first child, born in Bordeaux in 1661, returned to the Netherlands in 1662 owing to the increasingly hostile attitude toward Protestants in France at that time. After settling in the courtly city of The Hague, Netscher found a clientele eager for refined scenes of ladies at their toilet, musical companies, and gallant soldiers. He became a member of the local painters’ confraternity (Schilders Confrerie Pictura) in October 1662, and he is documented in that city nearly every year until his death in 1684.

Today more than 200 paintings are firmly attributed to Caspar Netscher, with nearly 400 more mentioned in various accounts but not yet located.[5] Given the enormous volume of his work, Netscher must have enjoyed high demand as an artist and presumably oversaw a large studio. Among his patrons were the Amsterdam regent Pieter de Graeff and his wife, Jacoba Bicker; Johan de Witt, grand pensionary of Holland, and his wife, Wendela Bicker; Constantijn Huygens, secretary to the stadtholders, or stewards, of the Dutch Republic; and foreign dignitaries such as Cosimo III de’ Medici.[6] Although no inventory appears to have been made upon Netscher’s death, the death inventory of his wife reports a sizeable estate of over 36,000 florins that included paintings and other works of art—a quantifiable measure of the painter’s artistic and financial success.

[1] The place and date of Caspar Netscher’s birth are unknown as is the identity of his parents. Marjorie E. Wieseman outlines the hypothesized scenarios and candidates in Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting (Doornspijk, 2002), 23. For period accounts of Netscher’s life, see Rogier de Piles, Abrégé de la vie des Peintres…, Paris, 1699: 452–455; and Arnold Houbraken, De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen, 3 vols. in 1,The Hague, 1753; reprint, Amsterdam, 1976: 3:92–93.

[2] Marjorie E. Wieseman outlines the hypothesized scenarios and candidates in Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-century Dutch Painting,Doornspijk, 2002: 24.

[3] Sturla J. Gudlauggson, Gerard ter Borch, 2 vols., The Hague, 1959–1960: 1:107.

[4] Arnold Houbraken, De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen, 3 vols. in 1, The Hague, 1753; reprint, Amsterdam, 1976: 3:95.

[5] See Marjorie E. Wieseman’s catalog of accepted, problematic, rejected, and unidentified paintings in Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting, Doornspijk, 2002: 167–465.

[6] Marjorie E. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting, Doornspijk, 2002: 32.

Bibliography
1699
Piles, Roger de. Abrégé de la vie des Peintres.... Paris, 1699: 452-455.
1753
Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 3:92-93.
2002
Wieseman, Marjorie E. Caspar Netscher and Late Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting. Doornspijk, 2002.

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