EGBERT LIEVENSZ VAN DER POEL (Delft 1621 –1664 Rotterdam)

Egbert van der Poel

Egbert Lievensz van der Poel (Delft 1621 –1664 Rotterdam)

A Kitchenmaid Cleaning Fish before a Farmhouse

Oil on panel, 58.4 x 81.6 cm (23 x 32.1 inch); presented in a modern ebonised ripple frame with gilt slip of 17th-century model

Signed ‘der Poel’ (lower left)

Anonymous sale, Christie’s, New York, 11 January 1991, lot 14; anonymous sale, Christie’s, New York, 23 Janury 2004, lot 145; The Harry R. Calsing Trust, Cleveland Ohio


Van der Poel was born in Delft, but he is mainly associated with Rotterdam, where he is believed to have had his training in the studio of Cornelis Saftleven.1 In 1650, the artist enrolled in the St Luke’s Guild in Delft, but after the devastating explosion of a gunpowder store on 12 October 1654, in which he lost a child, he decided to leave the city for good and to settle in Rotterdam.

Van der Poel’s interest in disasters, as reflected in his village fires, is also clear from the many paintings he made of the gunpowder explosion in his native city. There was evidently a lively market for scenes of this kind, a seventeenth-century variant of today’s ‘disaster tourism’. But it was above all his brandjes (fires), as they were called, that made him famous. He was even celebrated in his own day as Holland’s best ‘fire painter’. Among his followers are Adam de Colonia, Willem Gillisz Kool and Cornelis Snellinck.

A small number of paintings is known that Van der Poel made before the gunpowder disaster, and the present work can also be dated to that period, painted during the second half of the 1640s. It can be compared to a signed Landscape with Farm near a River, dated 1647, which is preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which is nearly identical in size to our painting (fig.).2 The Vienna painting formed part of the collections of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, and is mentioned in his inventory of 1659.


1. For the artist, see A. Goldschmidt, 'Egbert van der Poel und Adriaen van der Poel', Oud Holland 40 (1923), p. 57-66 and Saur’s Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, Munich 1992, vol. 8, p. 56.
2. Panel, 58.5 x 83 cm, inv. no. GG 579; Martina Haja (ed.), Die Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums in Wien: Verzeichnis der Gemälde, Vienna 1991, p. 96, plate 518.