Bartholomeus van der Helst, Dutch, 1613-1670
Title: Portrait of Maritge Jansdr Pesser (c.1593-1649)
Date: 1647
Medium: Oil on wood panel
Dimensions:
71.2 x 59.1 cm
Signed: centre left: B. vander. helst / 1647/ A. tes.54
Credit Line: Purchased, 1866
Object Number: NGI.65
DescriptionThe son of a Haarlem innkeeper, Van der Helst probably trained with the renowned portrait painter Nicolaes Eliasz Pickenoy. He rapidly established his reputation in Amsterdam in the early 1640s, when he received a number of significant commissions for individual portraits. By the time he died, 30 years later, he was the leading portrait painter of the ruling class in the city. Van der Helst painted more than 100 individual portraits, most of which were shoulder-length or half-length figures, and monumental three-quarter-length pieces. He occasionally painted life-size family portraits.
The artist’s prominent position led to commissions from distinguished people outside his place of residence (Amsterdam), a rare phenomenon in the history of seventeenth-century Dutch portraiture. In the early 1650s he was even asked to paint the official portrait of Mary Henrietta Stuart, widow of William II of Orange Nassau. This commission was exceptional, as the court did not ordinarily employ artists working for the Amsterdam merchants’ class. Van der Helst’s main competitor in Amsterdam was Rembrandt van Rijn.

March 2016

Exhibition HistoryCentenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, October - December 1964
Label TextVan der Helst rapidly established his reputation in Amsterdam in the early 1640s, when he received a number of significant commissions for individual portraits. By the time he died, 30 years later, he was the leading portrait painter of the ruling class in the city. Van der Helst painted more than a hundred individual portraits, most of which are shoulder-length, half-length figures or monumental three-quarter-length pieces. Van der Helst occasionally painted life-size family portraits. His prominent position led to commissions from distinguished people outside Amsterdam, a rare phenomenon in the history of seventeenth-century Dutch portraiture.