AARON SANTCROOS (active Amsterdam, circa 1760-1791)
Aaron Santcroos (active Amsterdam, circa 1760-1791)
‘Bedriegertje’ with Printed Pages and Drawings Around the Titlepage of J. Haverkamp’s Sabinus en Eponina
Pen and black ink, watercolour, countermark IV, 352 x 273 mm (13.9 x 10.8 inch)
Signed and dated ‘An= SantCroos Feçit. Ao: 1791.’ (lower right)
Private collection, The Netherlands
Aaron (or Ahron) Santcroos, also known as Sanctcroos, was an engraver of Jewish Portuguese descent, working in Amsterdam around the last decades of the eighteenth century.1 Santcroos engraved title pages for the Hebrew Bible Chamishah Chumshei Torah: Tikun Sopherim, published in Amsterdam by Leib Soesmans in 1768; the great edition of the Talmud Bavli, published in Amsterdam from 1752 to 1768; and the Book of Ezra the Scribe, Sefer’Ezrat Hasofer, Hamishah Humshei Torah, published in Amsterdam by G.J. Janson for Israel Mondovy, 1767-69.
Until recently, only a single watercolour by Santcroos was known, preserved in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem (fig.).2 A second watercolour was discovered in 2022 by ourselves, a ‘Bedriegertje’ with the Arms of Orange-Nassau (fig).3 This sheet is thought to have originally conceived as a pair with the sheet in Haarlem and has since been sold by ourselves to the Teylers, to join its companion.
The present, third, watercolour by Santcroos was also discovered in 2022. It is a particularly valuable addition to the artist’s very small corpus, as it is dated 1791 – this year is now the terminus post quem for Santcroos’s decease. Apart from the present and the two Haarlem watercolours, only a few more drawings by the artist are known from references in historic auction catalogues, including two river views along the Vecht from the collection of Willem van Wessem, sold in Amsterdam on 6 April 1789, where the artist is described as ‘A. Santcroos de Lein’.4
This elaborate watercolour is a tour de force of trompe l’oeil, an assemblage of various illusionistically rendered ‘pages’ around a central ‘titlepage’ of the tragedy Sabinus en Eponina, published in Amsterdam in 1741 and written by Johannes Haverkamp (1684–1754). Santcroos copied the titlepage meticulously, as can be seen from an extant copy of the play (fig.). The other ‘pages’ include trompe l’oeil ‘printed’ sheets, showing Santcroos’s meticulous skills in calligraphy, doubtless the result of his activities as a copperplate engraver. Other ‘drawings’ and ‘watercolours’ are executed in the styles of other draughtsmen of the period.
A red chalk portrait of Johannes Haverkamp by Jan Maurits Quinkhard (1688–1772) is also in the collection of White Rose Fine Art and can be found here. In the drawing Haverkamp holds a copy of the same play, which appears to have been his most popular work.
SOLD TO THE JEWISH HISTORICAL MUSEUM (JOODS HISTORISCH MUSEUM), AMSTERDAM
1. For Santcroos, see Isidore Singer and Cyrus Adler (eds.), The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 1916, p. 175.
2. Watercolour on paper, 349 x 267 mm, inv. no. TvB T 159; donated by Stichting Jhr. H. Teding van Berkhout, 2001; C. van Tuyll van Serooskerken, Een kunstkast gaat open: tekeningen uit de verzameling Teding van Berkhout, exh. cat. Haarlem (Teylers Museum), 1995, cat. no. 39.
3. Watercolour on paper, 353 x 255 mm.
4. Amsterdam (Van der Schley … Yver), 6 April 1789, Album D, no. 66: ‘Twee stuks gezigten aan de Vecht, langs de Ryweg, met verscheide stoffagie, uitvoerig met O. Inkt geteekent, A. Santcroos de Lein.’ (Two pieces views along the Vecht, along the road, with some staffage, elaborately drawing with India ink, A. Santcroos de Lein’. Two other views were included in the sale of the collection of Johannes Ulricus van Heijnen and Jacob Helmolt, held in Amsterdam (Van der Schley … De Vries) on 11 April 1811, Album F, no. 55: ‘Een Plijsterplaats en een Dorpgezigt. Met kleuren, door Santecoots’ (‘a resting place and a village view. With colours, by Santecoots’), sold for fl. 1.5 to ‘Poelle’).