JACOB SCHWARTZENBACH (Veere 1763 – 1805 Veere)

Jacob Swartzenbach

Jacob Schwartzenbach (Veere 1763 – 1805 Veere)

An Artist Painting a Silhouette Portrait of a Young Boy

Oil on panel, 35 x 28 cm (13.8 x 11 inch); presented in a carved and gilt frame of Neoclassical model

Signed and dated ‘J Schwartzenbach 1798

Private collection, Switzerland, 1958 (recorded on the reverse of a black/white photograph in the RKD)


Jacob Schwartzenbach was born in Veere in Zeeland, and worked in this town his whole life.1 He was active as a painter, notably of portaits, and also as a draughtsman and etcher. The artists’ biographer Christiaan Kramm praised his ‘wèlgelijkende, en keurig uitgewerkte Afbeeldingen, … fraaije en fijne schilderijen, en zelfs … de ets- en graveerkunst’ (‘his accurated and beautifully executed representations, beautiful and fine paintings, and even the arts of etching and engraving’).2 Schwartzenbach was also Secretary of the ‘Rederijkerskamer’ named ‘Missende Scholieren’ in Veere. He frequently collaborated with the Middelburg artist Engel Hoogerheyden (1740–1807), who may also have been his teacher.

Only a handful of paintings by Schwartzenbach is known today, of which this work is the undisputed masterpiece. A portrait dated 1799 of Martinus Kouwenhoven (1755–1812), priest in Veere, is preserved in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht (fig.).3 A portrait of an unknown lady serving tea, dated 1801, is in a private collection (fig.).4 This work also shows an accurately delineated piece of furniture in the background, similar to the ‘klapbuffet’ which can be observed in the hauntingly unusual present work.


1. For the artist, see Christiaan Kramm, De levens en werken der Hollandsche en Vlaamsche kunstschilders, beeldhouwers, graveurs en bouwmeesters, van den vroegsten tot op onzen tijd..., Amsterdam 1857-64, p. 1503 and Pieter Scheen, Lexicon Nederlandse beeldende kunstenaars, 1750-1880, The Hague 1981, p. 473.
2. Kramm, loc. cit.
3. Panel, 30.5 x 24.5 cm, inv. no. BMH S 916a; J. Dijkstra, P.P.W.M. Dirkse, A.E.A.M. Smits, De schilderijen van Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht/Zwolle 2002, p. 256.
4. Panel, 29 x 23 cm, private collection, RKD Images no. 146847.