Cornelius Liefrinck II, a relatively unknown Leiden artist, is one of those figures who dot the history of painting in Holland in the 17th century. He was one of the followers of Jan van Goyen and lived approximately from 1581 to 1640. Little is known of his life and almost less about the body of pictures he produced; but those few that are today identified as being by his hand show him to have been a talent of very considerable merit in a time which produced artists as we produce accountants.He is known to have come from an art-oriented family. His grandfather, Cornelius I (who died before 1545), was from Antwerp and was a wood engraver who worked with Burgkmair. His father, Hans II (active 1567-1590), was a map-maker and moved the family to Holland. Cornelius II's apprenticeship can only be guessed at, but it is known from contemporary records that with van Goyen he was an official paintings assessor in Leiden. His earliest dated works are from 1619, and his productive life is presumed to have been little more than twenty years. He was known to Hoogstraten, the famous chronicler of Dutch artists, as a landscape painter who had a personal style especially adapted to the colorful rendering of rocks.The Liefrinck recently acquired by the Institute1
is entitled Coastal Landscape with Granite Cliffs
and was at one time attributed to Hendrick Avercamp and is so inscribed on the back in an old hand. After cleaning, however, it was found to be fully signed at the lower left with both monogram and name (C. Liefrinck), and was painted in the 1630s. The influence of van Goyen, which was widespread although he had few actual pupils, is present more in the brush work than in the composition and speaks to the individuality of the artist. The scene is one of everyday life, and one can clearly see the beached fishing boat being unloaded of its day's catch. The fish are being hauled away in baskets, perhaps to the cool interior of the cave at the base of the granite cliff.This particular painting has another interesting element besides being by a highly rare artist: its previous owner was Paul Delray (1852-1913). A member of the Russian nobility and Privy Councillor to the Emperor, Delaroff was an eager and active collector. He was especially attracted to Dutch pictures and parts of his collection are now housed in the museums of The Hague, Leyden, and Berlin. Our picture, which benefits from having been up to his level of taste, was sold in Paris with his estate in 1914.Endnotes
Referenced Work of Art
- 67.49. Purchased through a Gift of Funds from an Anonymous Donor. Oil on board, 11 1/4” x 14”.
- Cornelius Liefrinck, II. Dutch (ca. 1581-1640). Coastal Landscape with Granite Cliffs. Oil on board, 11 1/4” x 14”. Gift of Funds from Anonymous Donor, 67.49.