Abraham Van Diepenbeck - Encyclopedia

ABRAHAM VAN DIEPENBECK (1599-1675), Flemish painter, was born at Herzogenbusch, and studied painting at Antwerp, where he became one of Rubens's "hundred pupils." But he was not one of the cleverest of Rubens's followers, and he succeeded, at the best, in imitating the style and aping the peculiarities of his master. We see this in his earliest pictures - a portrait dated 1629 in the Munich Pinakothek, and a "Distribution of Alms" of the same period in the same collection. Yet even at this time there were moments when Diepenbeck probably fancied that he might take another path. A solitary copperplate executed with his own hand in 1630 represents a peasant sitting under a tree holding the bridle of an ass, and this is a minute and finished specimen of the engraver's art which shows that the master might at one time have hoped to rival the animal draughtsmen who flourished in the schools of Holland. However, large commissions now poured in upon him; he was asked for altarpieces, subject-pieces and pagan allegories. He was tempted to try the profession of a glass-painter, and at last he gave up every other occupation for the lucrative business of a draughtsman and designer for engravings. Most of Diepenbeck's important canvases are in continental galleries. The best are the "Marriage of St Catherine" at Berlin and "Mary with Angels Wailing over the Dead Body of Christ" in the Belvedere at Vienna, the first a very fair specimen of the artist's skill, the second a picture of more energy and feeling than might be expected from one who knew more of the outer form than of the spirit of Rubens. Then we have the fine "Entombment" at Brunswick, and "St Francis Adoring the Sacrament" at the museum at Brussels, "Clelia and her Nymphs Flying from the Presence and Pursuit of Porsenna" in two examples at Berlin and Paris, and "Neptune and Amphitrite" at Dresden. In all these compositions the drawing and execution are after the fashion of Rubens, though inferior to Rubens in harmony of tone and force of contrasted light and shade. Occasionally a tendency may be observed to imitate the style of Vandyck, for whom, in respect of pictures, Diepenbeck in his lifetime was frequently taken. But Diepenbeck spent much less of his leisure on canvases than on glass-painting. Though he failed to master the secrets of gorgeous tinting, which were lost, apparently for ever in the 16th century, he was constantly employed during the best years of his life in that branch of his profession. In 1635 he finished forty scenes from the life of St Francis of Paula in the church of the Minimes at Antwerp. In 1644 he received payment for four windows in St Jacques of Antwerp, two of which are still preserved, and represent Virgins to whom Christ appears of ter the Resurrection. The windows ascribed to him at St Gudule of Brussels were executed from the cartoons of Theodore van Thulden. On the occasion of his matriculation at Antwerp in 1638-1639, Diepenbeck was registered in the guild of St Luke as a glass-painter. He resigned his membership in the Artist Club of the Violette in 1542, apparently because he felt hurt by a valuation then made of drawings furnished for copperplates to the engraver Pieter de Jode. The earliest record of his residence at Antwerp is that of his election to the brotherhood (Sodalitat) "of the Bachelors" in 1634. It is probable that before this time he had visited Rome and London, as noted in the work of Houbraken. In 1636 he was made a burgess of Antwerp. He married twice, in 1637 and 1652. He died in December 1675, and was buried at St Jacques of Antwerp.

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