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Leendert van der Cooghen

(1632–1681, Haarlem)

Saint Bavo with Falcon. Etching. 19 x 13.3 cm. 1664. B. 3, Hollstein 3.

The son of a Flemish merchant and a daughter of the well-to-do Beeresteyn family from Haarlem, Leendert van der Cooghen enjoyed financial security all his life and never had to earn a living from his art. On the contrary, he was able to pursue his artistic activities on his own initiative and entirely for pleasure. He is thought to have been apprenticed to Jacob Jordaens in Antwerp in the late 1640s and probably studied with Cornelis Bega later on. In 1652 he was accepted into the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke, of which he was a very active member. Nowadays, van der Cooghen is best known for his drawings, on which he mostly recorded the correct day, month and year. Only a few of his paintings have survived, while his printed oeuvre encompasses no more than ten etchings. Strictly speaking, van der Cooghen must be regarded as a dilettante, but his corpus of prints and drawings reveal him to be a gifted and capable artist.

The present rare etching shows the patron saint of van der Cooghen’s native city of Haarlem. Bavo was a seventh century saint whose aristocratic origins meant he was traditionally depicted as a knight in armour carrying a sword and with a falcon on his arm. Two churches in Haarlem were consecrated in his name, one of which – the Great Church or Church of St. Bavo erected between 1370 and 1520 – dominates the silhouette of Haarlem in the background. The etching, which has been treated in a free and accurate style, is remarkable for its modest but visually striking interpretation. The preliminary drawing van der Cooghen made on 13 April 1662 is in Teylers Museum in Haarlem (pen and brown ink, 23 x 14.9 cm, inv. no. P 100).

A brilliant, crisp impression with delicate plate tone, wiping marks, traces of ink and thread margins around the distinct platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in pristine condition. From the collection of Friedrich August II of Saxony (Lugt 971) and from the collection of Georg Denzel (not in Lugt). Literature: Baukje J. L. Coenen, “The Drawings of the Haarlem Amateur Leendert van der Cooghen”. in: Master drawings, 43 (2005), pp. 5–90, no. 1, fig. 47.

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