DIRK LANGENDIJK (Rotterdam 1748 – 1805 Rotterdam)

Dirk Langendijk

Dirk Langendijk (Rotterdam 1748 – 1805 Rotterdam)

Cavalryman of the ‘Dragonder’ Regiment on Horseback

Pen and grey ink, watercolour, watermark fleur-de-lys in crowned shield with letters LVC underneath, 177 x 194 mm (7 x 7.6 inch)

Signed and dated ‘Langendijk fecit 1785’ (lower right)

Private collection, The Netherlands


Proudly riding his grey, this cavalryman is depicted by the Rotterdam artist Dirk Langendijk with extraordinary eye for detail: while loosely holding the horse’s reins, the soldier’s right arm nonchalantly rests on his upper leg. The rider is faithfully portrayed with all his military gear: his rifle and three wooden poles for his tent under his arm; the tent cloth behind him, together with cooking pot and tricorn hat, while wearing a warm fur cap; a bag for smaller possessions alongside him. A highly comparable watercolour of another cavalryman on horseback is known, dated September of the same year (fig.).1 This sheet is annotated ‘Garder Dragenders Gemeene’, which refers to the Regiment Garde Dragonders of the ‘Staatse leger’, the army of the States of Holland. The cavalryman depicted in our drawing must have belonged to the same regiment. Unlike other types of cavalry, ‘dragonders’ fought on foot, reserving their horses for transportation.2

Langendijk was a pupil of Dirck Anthonie Bisschop, an interior decorator and painter of coats of arms and coaches. From the beginning of his career Langendijk depicted primarily military scenes. As his career progressed he drew inspiration for these military scenes from the Dutch conflict between the Patriots and the Orangists, and from the invasions of the Dutch Republic by the French and Anglo-Russian armies in 1795 and 1799 respectively.

Langendijk’s style is characterised by a concentration on crowds rather than individuals, which makes the present work a rarity in his oeuvre. In his military scenes, we typically see the interaction between groups of officers and soldiers before and during battle. However, as well as military scenes, Langendijk also depicted many scenes of coastal life, such as the Courtauld Gallery’s Shipping in a Storm off the Coast. He executed many of his works without pencil and pen, often just drawing with a brush.

Langendijk was primarily a draughtsman and he was greatly admired in his lifetime, particularly for his detailed rendering of equestrian combat scenes. He was also, to a lesser extent, a painter and etcher, although dated paintings by him are only known from the period of 1771 to 1772 and from 1780. These generally depict the daily life of soldiers and landed gentry.


1. Pen and grey ink, watercolour, 209 x 205 mm; Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 12 November 1996, lot 175, repr.
2. With many thanks to Dr. Louis Sloos of the Legermuseum, Delft, for kindly providing information on this.