ARNOLD BOONEN (Dordrecht 1669 – 1729 Amsterdam)

Arnold Boonen

Arnold Boonen (Dordrecht 1669 – 1729 Amsterdam)

Portrait of a gentleman in ‘Japonsche rock’

Oil on canvas, 48 x 39 cm (18.9 x 15.4 inch); presented in a modern ebonised frame of Dutch 17th-century model

Signed and dated ‘A. Boonen 169[.]’ (lower right)

Charles Burrow, Esq. (circa 1900, according to a label on the reverse); private collection, Belgium


Born in Dordrecht, Arnold Boonen was first taught by the little known painter Arnold Verbuys in 1682.1 He continued his education however in the studio of the celebrated Godefridus Schalcken, where he worked for six years. Around 1690 Boonen established himself as a master painter in the city of his birth, where he painted portraits of the elite, generally on a small scale. His fame rose quickly during a journey through the German princely states in 1695.

In 1696 Boonen settled in Amsterdam, where he became one of the most fashionable portraitists, favoured by the city’s wealthiest inhabitants, not unlike another Dordrecht painter, Nicolaes Maes, had done a few decades before. His fame was such, that in 1717 he received the prestigious commission to paint Czar Peter the Great and his wife. Boonen’s candlelit scenes were also highly popular.

Portraits by Boonen can be found in the leading museums of the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Although the last number of the date on this intimate likeness is no longer legible, it is likely to date from the first half of the 1690s, when Boonen was still working in Dordrecht. It can be compared to Boonen’s portrait of the Dordrecht ‘schepen’ Pieter Everwijn (1665–1723), which is dated 1695 (fig.).2


1. For the artist, see A. van der Willigen and F.G. Meijer, A dictionary of Dutch and Flemish still-life painters working in oils: 1525-1725, Leiden 2003, p. 43.
2. Canvas, 45 x 35.5 cm, private collection, The Netherlands; E.W. Moes, Iconographia Batava: beredeneerde lijst van geschilderde en gebeeldhouwde portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in vorige eeuwen, Amsterdam 1897, no. 2438; RKD images no. 211207.