Saturday, April 14, 2018

01 Paintings, Olympian deities, by the Old Masters, with footnotes # 15

Willem Drost, AMSTERDAM 1633 - 1659
Oil on canvas
39 by 33 in.; 99 by 84 cm.
Private collection

William Drost’s Flora was painted during the artist’s brief stay in Venice during the 1650s and has hitherto remained unknown to scholars.  The work should be considered one of Drost’s very best paintings, comparable to his undisputed masterpiece, the Bathsheba in the Louvre. It is a remarkable synthesis of the artist’s early training in Amsterdam under Rembrandt and the more mature style he developed in Venice, when he came under the direct spell of Titian, to whom this work is a clear homage. Titian's own Flora is known to have been in Amsterdam in the collection of Alfonso López, a Spaniard in the service of Cardinal Richelieu, but Drost probably did not see it in person. Rembrandt almost certainly did, and Drost would very likely have been aware of the design through drawings and prints of it. It is only once Drost arrived in Venice that he finally would have had direct access to a multitude of works by the Venetian master. Drost's interpretation of the subject thus successfully combines elements from the most important school of painting from the Dutch 17th century with the legacy of Venice's greatest artist. More on this painting

Willem Drost (baptized 19 April 1633 – buried 25 February 1659) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and printmaker of history paintings and portraits who died young, at the age of 25. He is a mysterious figure, closely associated with Rembrandt, with very few paintings attributable to him.

He was presumably born in Amsterdam, in what was then known as the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Around 1650 he became a student of Rembrandt, eventually developing a close working relationship, painting history scenes, biblical compositions, symbolic studies of a solitary figure, as well as portraits. As a student, his 1654 painting titled Bathsheba was inspired by Rembrandt's painting done in the same year on the same subject and given the same title, though their treatments are rather different; both Drost’s and Rembrandt’s paintings are in the Louvre in Paris.

He was in Amsterdam until 1655 and then travelled to Italy. He influenced the painter Adolf Boy. Sometime in the mid-1650s, the young artist went to Rome, where he collaborated with the German artist Johann Carl Loth on a lost series of the Four Evangelists in Venice. He died in the latter city in 1659. More

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