ADRIAAN DE LELIE (Tilburg 1755 – 1820 Amsterdam)

Adriaan de Lelie

Adriaan de Lelie (Tilburg 1755 – 1820 Amsterdam)

Portrait of a Gentleman and Portrait of a Lady

Both oil on canvas, in feigned ovals, 39.5 x 30.8 cm (15.6 x 12.1 inch; presented in Neoclassical giltwood frames

Remains of red lacquer seals on reverse of stretchers

Private collection, USA


The Tilburg artist Adriaan de Lelie was mostly self-taught, though he also appears to have collaborated with his fellow townsman Cornelis van Spaendonck (1756–1839) in his formative years.1 Together they travelled to Antwerp in 1773, where De Lelie finished his artistic education in the academy led by Andreas Bernardus de Quertenmont and commenced specialising in portraits and historical scenes. He then travelled to Düsseldorf, where in the Electoral collections he copied portraits by Rubens and Van Dyck, whose loose and spontaneous technique was influential to the artist.

In 1783 De Lelie established his studio in Amsterdam, where he quickly became among the most celebrated portraitists of the town’s cultural and intellectual elite. In addition to portraits of individual sitters, he also produced a number of highly refined group portraits, which art part of the tradition of the conversation piece or ‘babbelstuk’. A notable example is that of the art collector Jan Gildemeester, surrounded by family and friends in his gallery, dating to 1794-1795 and preserved in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (fig.).2 De Lelie also painted a number of genre pieces.

Our portraits, which have sadly lost the identities of the sitters, are particularly well preserved and show De Lelie’s delicate and painterly technique. They can for instance be compared to De Lelie’s portrait of the book seller Jan Nieuwenhuyzen, also in the Rijksmuseum.3 Other works by De Lelie art in the collections of the Museum van Loon, Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, the Catharijneconvent Museum, Utrecht and Teylers Museum, Haarlem. Among De Lelie’s pupils were Jean-Augustin Daiwille, François Montauban van Swijndregt, Pièrre Recco and Johannes Ziesenis.


1. For the artist, see K.P. Ackema, Adriaan de Lelie (1755-1820): Amsterdams portret- en genreschilder, n.p. 1981 and Josephina de Fouw, Adriaan de Lelie 1755-1820: het achttiende-eeuwse familieportret, Amsterdam/Zwolle 2014.
2. Oil on panel, 63.7 x 85.7 cm, inv. no. SK-A-4100; P.J.J. van Thiel, All the paintings of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1976, p. 340, repr.
3. Oil on canvas, 63 x 50.5 cm, inv. no. SK-A-2856; Van Thiel, op. cit., p. 343, repr.