Hendrik van Velthoven (Leiden 1728 – 1770 Utrecht)
A Wedding Ceremony in a Classical Landscape
Watercolour, bodycolour, heightened with silver (partly oxidized) and gold, partial black ink framing lines, 250 x 198 mm (9.8 x 7.8 inch)
Signed and dated ‘H. v. Velthooven / Fecit 1750’ (lower left)
Private collection, Belgium
Hendrik van Velthoven was born in Leiden, where he was educated at the Drawing Academy.1 He was registered in the annals of Leiden University on 10th December 1745 as ‘Batavus Pictor’, ‘painter of Leiden’, and was then living with his father on the Hogewoerd street. On 5th September 1753 he became a master at the Guild of St Luke in that city.2 In 1761 he was the first drawing master appointed at the Fundatie van Renswoude (Foundation of Renswoude) in Utrecht, where he spent the remainder of his life. Among his pupils was Louis François Gérard van der Puyl (1750–1824), who spent five years with Velthoven.
Van Velthoven was active as a draftsman, painter and miniaturist. He was among the most sought after portraitists of the era and wealthy merchants and members of the aristocracy flocked to his studio. Pendant portraits of Jan Bartholomeus de Malnoë (1702–1750) and his wife Catharina Gasparina van der Meulen (1707–1750) are preserved in the Museum Lakenhal in Leiden.3 In Utrecht he also painted several professors, several of which are still preserved in the collection of the University.4
Despite Van Velthoven’s long activity as drawing master, virtually no drawings or works on paper by the artist have survived. In addition to our bodycolour, there are two further works known, a watercolour interior with a portrait of Carel Wouter Visscher (1734–1802) in the collection of Leiden University (fig.)5 and a bust of the philosopher Democritus in red chalk in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.6
In this carefully executed gouache, proudly signed and dated by the artist, Van Velthoven has depicted an enchanting garden, adorned with a fountain and a circular Classical temple in the background. In the centre of the composition a gentleman and lady are shown dressed in Classical robes, and appear to the in the process of a wedding ceremony, overseen by the Goddess Minerva behind them, and accompanied by female mythological figures and river gods in the foreground, while a dove carries an olive branch in the skies above. It is possible that this sheet was executed to celebrate an actual wedding ceremony by one of Van Velthoven’s patrons.
1. For the artist, see: R. van Luttervelt, 'Hendrik van Velthoven, eerste teekenmeester aan de Fundatie van Renswoude’, Jaarboekje van Oud-Utrecht 1945 -1946, Utrecht 1947, pp. 162-174.
2. “5 Sept.  heeft Hendrik van Velthoven zijn Gild gekogt als Meester Fijnschilder fl. 6 – 0 – 0”, ‘Lijst van leden van het Leidsch St Lucasgild na 1685’, Oud Holland, vol. 22, no. 3, 1904, p. 191.
3. Oil on panel, 45 x 35 cm, dated 1750, inv. no. 445; Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Catalogus van schilderijen en tekeningen, Leiden 1983, p. 349.
4. Such as the portrait of Pieter Luchtmans (1662–1732), professor of anatomy, dated 1760, oil on canvas, 66 x 54 cm, Utrecht, Academiegebouw, exh. cat. Knappe Koppen, vier eeuwen Nederlands professorenportret, Utrecht (Centraal Museum), 1991-92, cat. no. 117.
5. Watercolour and chalk on paper, 530 x 475 mm, J.W. Niemeijer, Cornelis Troost 1696-1750, Assen 1973, p. 408.
6. Red chalk, 200 x 160 mm (after an etching by Arold Houbraken), Centraal Museum, Utrecht, A. Blankert, ‘Heraclitus en Democritus’, Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1967, pp. 31-124, cat. no. 86b.