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  • NameWillem van Herp
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesFlemish, born 1614, dead 1677
BiographyHistory- and genre painter. Active at Antwerp, where he was probably born; no baptismal record has been found. Willem van Herp became a
pupil of the minor Antwerp history painter Damiaen
Wortelmans I in 1625/1626 and of Hans Biermans in
1628/1629, eventually enrolling as a master in the
local painters’ Guild of St. Luke in 1637/1638, perhaps
after spending some time abroad. By 1651 he
was employed by the Antwerp art dealer Matthijs
Musson, for whom he retouched copies after Rubens,
and for the firm of Forchoudt, supplying the Antwerp
art market with large quantities of artworks of varying
quality, many destined for export to Spain. Besides
working for Musson, Van Herp also received independent
commissions from Spanish patrons: in 1663
he worked with Luigi Primo, Adam Frans van der
Meulen and David Teniers II, on a series of twenty
small paintings on copper illustrating the life of
Guillermo Ramon Moncada and his brother, with
decorative borders by Jan van Kessel I. Several of
these compositions, including four by Van Herp,
were subsequently woven into tapestries in Flanders.
As was so often true in the 17th century, art was a
family affair for Van Herp: in 1654 he married Maria
Wolffort, daughter of the painter Artus Wolffort; and
both of their sons, Norbertus and Willem II, became
painters. Two other pupils are recorded.
Van Herp’s art has been termed “industrial”. The
majority of his paintings are religious scenes painted
on large copper plates, which exist in multiple versions.
Often they are copies or pastiches of compositions
by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and
other local history painters such as Gerard Seghers
and Jan Boeckhorst. While predominantly religious,
his subjects also include historical and mythological
themes, still lifes and attractive genre scenes, mostly
peasant pictures in the manner of David Teniers II,
presumably intended primarily for the local Antwerp
art market. His warm palette and lively brushwork
may have been influenced by Rubens and by Jacob
Jordaens. Few known works are dated – although
most seem to have been executed in the 1650s and
1660s – making it difficult to establish a chronology
or distinguish a stylistic development within his eclectic
oeuvre. His personal style is, however, easily recognizable
in the slightly mannered drawing and expressiveness
of his figures. In addition to the series mentioned
above, Van Herp is also known to have collaborated
with Erasmus Quellinus II, Antoon Goubau
and Philips Augustyn Immenraet.
Work
The Entry into Jerusalem