Lambert van den Bos, Konst kabinet van Marten Kretzer: a poem on an Amsterdam collection of paintings in 1650


Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), The revel of Bacchus and Silenus. Oil on panel, 92.6 x 130 cm. Sale London (Christie’s) 5 July 2007, lot 66


Jan Lievens, Self-portrait, ca. 1638. Oil on canvas, 96.2 x 77 cm. London, National Gallery (inv. nr. NG2864)












Original A very literal translation of the Dutch An interpretive paraphrase
Van MARTEN KRETZER.t’ AMSTELDAM,Gedruckt by Nicolaes van Ravesteyn,
Art cabinet of Marten Kretzer.

Printed in Amsterdam by Nicolaes van Ravesteyn, 1650.

Marten Kretzer’s painting collection

Printed in Amsterdam by Nicolaes van Ravesteyn, 1650.



m a r t e n  c r e t z e r.

Art-cabinet of Marten Cretzer. Marten Cretzer’s painting collection
1 Hier stae ick stom en sonder spraeck!

En naeuwlijcks een van mijne lippen

Laet sich een enckel woort ontslippen,

Of door verbaestheyt of vermaeck.

Here I stand mute and speechless! And – either through amazement or delight – hardly one of my lips releases a single word. I am struck dumb with amazement or sheer delight. I can’t say a word. Is it only my lips that have been paralyzed …
[What van den Bos means by speaking with one lip is unclear.]
2 Of is mijn Lichaem gantsch van steen?

Of is het leven, ‘t geen mijn oogen

Door stomme toovery bedrogen,

En gantsch gestelt heeft buyten reên?

Or is my body totally petrified? Or is it life, which deceives my eyes by silent witchcraft and has robbed them of the power to reason? … or has my entire body been turned to stone?
Or are my eyes deceived by silent witchcraft, deceived by the lifelikeness of the paintings I see, so that my vision is incapable of comprehending what it sees?
3 Vermagh soo veel des menschen hant?

Vermogen vingers soo te streelen

Door verw, op doecken en paneelen

Het oogh, de sinnen en ‘t verstandt?
A 2                             Wat

Is the human hand capable of so much? Are fingers able, through paint, on canvases and panels, to stroke the eye, the senses and the mind? Can the human hand bring this to pass? Can human fingers, working with dead materials like paint on canvas or panel, really affect the eye, senses and mind of a viewer?
4 Wat Soon van Iapet heeft wel eer

Soo grooten diefstal toch bedreven,

Die om sijn Beelden te doen leven,

Braght vuur en vlam van boven neêr?

Did the son of Japhet not once commit a great theft, bringing fire and flame from above down below in order to bring his images to life? This accomplishment reminds me of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods in order to bring his statues to life. But having said that, do we not have to acknowledge that what Prometheus did was a grave theft?
5 Was hy het doel van Iovis haet,

Moest hy aen Caucasus gebonden,

Door Gier en Arent zijn verslonden,

Eylaes tot soen van sijne daedt?

Was he the target of Jove’s hatred, did he have to be bound to the Caucasus to be devoured by vulture and eagle in order, alas, to pay for his deed? After all, he was punished for his deed by the infuriated Zeus, who tied him down in the Caucasus to have his insides eaten out by birds of prey.
6 En vreest hy geen gelijcke straf,

Die niet het voedtsel van het leven,

Maer ‘t leven self (en kost hy geven

Hy schonck noch meer) sijn Beelden gaf?

Should not he who gives his pictures not the nourishment of life but life itself (and if he could would give even more) fear the same punishment? If that was the penalty for bringing existing works of art to life, shouldn’t it also be meted out to someone who gave life itself to his pictures by commissioning them and who would have done more than that were it in his power. [Does he mean that Kretzer was a frustrated painter?]
7 Wat magh ons Moeder de Natuur

Haer zaet, haer kinders niet gedoogen!

De Beelden leven in ons oogen,

En in de Beelden, enckel vuur.

What does our mother Nature not allow her seed, her children! The pictures live in our eyes, and in the pictures only fire. How good of Nature to endow her children with this gift. The pictures come truly to life in our eyes, while what lodges in the pictures is only a flame.
8 Eer trock men ‘t leven nae, gelijck

Op hoop van ‘t rechte wit te raecken,

Hier dient men ‘t leven wel te maecken

Naer doeck en hout en kostlijck slijck.


At first they traced from life, hoping to hit the mark. Here you have to make life itself from canvas and wood and precious sludge. The first works of art were hit-or-miss attempts to trace living forms. Today the artist does not trace from nature, he creates life with oil paints on canvas and panel.
9 Elck spits sich hier op roem om strijdt,

Hier pooght men Romen te berooven

Haer eeren-krans, en elck wil boven

De dapp’re handt die hy benijdt.

Each exerts himself here to compete for fame, here they try to rob Rome of her wreath of honor and each desires to rise above the able hand which he envies. The artists represented here vie for fame; they challenge the supremacy of the ancient Romans and strive to bypass their most admired models.
10 Oudt Griecken stoft’ wel eer op een

Apelles, of op Zeuxis streecken,

Hier siet men soo ick ‘t naeuw bereecken,

Wel hondert sulcke tegens een.

Ancient Greece used to pride itself on Apelles or on the strokes of Zeuxis. Here you see, by my precise estimate, at least a hundred to one of those. Ancient Greece used to pride itself on the accomplishments of individual painters like Apelles or Zeuxis. What we have here, in my estimation, are a hundred times as many.
11 Den eenen handt heeft daer een Beelt

Niet om de vogels die daer vliegen,

Maer self de menschen te bedriegen,

Een levendige schijn, geteelt.

One hand has created a picture to fool not the birds flying past but even to deceive people themselves: a living appearance. [1. Trompe l’oeil]
One master has created a picture to fool not the birds flying past, as did Zeuxis, but with an illusion so lifelike that it fools not animals but people.
12 Den ander beelt u heerlijck uyt

Het puyck van wondere geschichten,

‘t Geen d’alderkeurighste gesichten

Veel eer het oogh dan lippen sluyt.

Another depicts for you delightfully the best of wondrous histories, which will sooner close the eyes than the lips of the most fastidious viewers. [2. A history painting]
Another painter obviously took pleasure in depicting this enchanting story. Even the most fastidious viewer would sooner close his eyes, unable to bear the beauty of the picture, than to close his mouth and stop singing its praises.
13 Gints siet men, en men schrickt te gaer,

De hooge lucht van stormen wagen,

Iae dat men sou met ernst beklagen,
De arme zielen in gevaer.
A 3                        Hier

There one sees, to one’s complete fright, the big sky threatening storms, so that you seriously worry about the poor souls in danger. [3. A seascape with storm clouds]
This painting of a threatening storm at sea is so terrifying that you seriously worry about the lives of the poor endangered souls in the vessels.
14 Hier staet een tafel vol cieraet,

Die licht een handt vermoeyt van vasten,

Sich wel sou doen daer aen vertasten,

‘t Geen kostlijck is en niet versaet.

Here is a table heaped with adornment, which may induce a hand weary from fasting to touch; it is delicious and does not satiate. [4. Still life with food and table adornments]
Here is a well-decked table from which a person weak with hunger would do well to eat. It is delicious fare on which you can never overfeed yourself.
15 Of swangre moeder wreedt en straf,

Hoe graegh sy oock haer Minne bluste,

Sou onversadight in haer lusten

Al schreyend wysen van haer af.

If this pregnant mother cruel and strict, however much she wishes to quell her desire, would be unsatisfied in her lust, repulsing it in tears. [5. A pregnant woman frustrated in love; meaning uncertain]

Or else you see a pregnant mother, cruel and strict, wishing to quell her desire but unable to, repulsing her desire in tears, unsatisfied in her lust.

16 Wat segh ick meer, wat segh ick veel,

En wat kan al het seggen baten,

Indien ick roemende moet laten

Noch onberoemt het beste deel!

What more can I say, how much am I saying, and what good does all that saying do if in praising I leave the best part unpraised? [Transition to section on paintings of higher quality]

All this chattering I’m doing! I’m talking too much! But what good does it do to talk if in  uttering praise I fail to praise what is most praiseworthy?

17 Wie sal ick eerst, en wie daer naer,

Wie dan, en wie ten laetsten prysen,

Wie minst, wie ‘t meeste eer bewysen

Van al dees meesterlijcke schaer?

Who shall I praise first and who afterwards, who then and who last? To whom shall I give the least and to whom the most honor, of all this masterly group? Who shall I praise first and who after them? Who goes next and who goes last? To whom shall I pay the least honor and to whom the most, of this superlative group?
18 Of u ô Donauws eeren Kroon,

Of dy ô roem des Tybers beyde,

Of eer de kinderen van Leyden,

Gehecht als Sterren aen den Throon.


You – the Danube’s crown of honor? Or you two, the fame of the Tiber? Or should I begin with Leiden’s children, fastened like stars to the throne. You, who was crowned on the Danube? Or the two of you, famous on the Tiber? Or should I begin with Leiden’s children, veritable stars in the skies. [Painters who answer roughly to these descriptions are Dirck de Quade van Ravesteyn, although he worked in Prague, not on the Danube; Pieter Lastman, Cornelis van Poelenburch, Pieter van Laer, Jan Weenix and Jan Asselijn in Rome; and Rembrandt and Jan Lievens of Leiden.]
19 Wat sien ick daer! ô leyder, wat

Voor treurspel slaet ons aller oogen,

Och ‘t is maer Kunst ick ben bedrogen,

O Hemel hoe verheught my dat.

What do I see there? For pity, what a tragedy meets our eyes. Oh, it is only art, I am deceived. O heaven how that rejoices me. [6. Titian, Beheading of John the Baptist (19-25)]

What’s happening here? How awful, what a tragedy we are witnessing. But no, it’s not! It’s only art, I was fooled. My God, what a relief.

20 O Titiaen wat heeft u die

Soo wonderlijcke deught gegeven,

Den langh verstorven te doen leven?

Of is hy doot die ick daer sie?

O Titian, what gave you the wonderful ability to bring to life that which was long dead? Or is he dead, whom I see there? Titian, how in the world did you acquire the miraculous gift to bring to life people long dead? Or is he dead, whom I see there?
21 Wat schrick is dit! Aenmerckt de Maeght,

Met bleecke en met besturven wangen

Ontvanght, en weygert te ontfangen,

Het hooft te dragen, ‘t geen sy draeght.

What a fright this is! Look, the maiden with pale and sunken cheeks receives and refuses to receive, to carry the head, which she carries. How terrifying! Look at that girl with the pale and sunken cheeks! She is torn apart. She has to accept the head but doesn’t want to. But she has no choice – she is carrying the head, like it or not.
22 Den Beul verheught sich in sijn daedt

Noch neêrlaegh niet, maer in sijn oogen

Door medelyden staet bewogen

Van hem die hy ter neder slaet.

The executioner enjoys neither his deed nor defeat. Rather, he shows in his eyes that he is moved with pity for him whom he strikes down. The executioner enjoys neither his deed nor the death-blow he administers. Look into his eyes and you will see that he is moved with pity for the victim he is executing.
23 Merckt hoe versmadelijck hy geeft

Het saligh hooft haer boos begeeren,

De bange en cidderende deeren,

Terwijl haer Dienaer ‘t oogh vast heeft


See how scornfully he presents the blessed head to her evil desire, the frightened and trembling wench, while her servant gazes steadily See how full of scorn he is as he hands over the saintly head, sacrificed to her evil desire. She herself trembles with fright, while her servant gazes steadily
24 Op haer bedruckt en bangh gelaet,

En merckt d’ontsteltnis in haer wesen,

Waer in de droefheydt staet te lesen,

En rouw die vast om ‘t harte slaet.

at her oppressed and frightened face and sees the consternation in her being, in which you can read the sadness and regret that seizes the heart. at her, taking in the oppressed and frightened expression of her face and the consternation that speaks from her pose. You can clearly see the sadness she feels and the regret that clutches at her heart.
25 Hier staet ‘er een in klare schijn

Met stomme lippen uyt te beelden:

Ontfanght u eysch ô kindt van weelden,

Waer van u voeten oorsaeck zijn.

Here stands one plain as day representing with mute lips; receive your demand, o child of luxury, of which your feet are the cause. In full daylight she stands, like a silent tableau vivant. Take it, you spoiled creature, the head is yours. You wanted it, and it was through your dancing that it was cut off.
26 O waerde Heylant, ach! hoe schoon

Laet sich die vuyle daedt hier malen!

Op ‘t hooft vol Goddelijcke stralen,

De bittre vloeck, de doorne Kroon.

O worthy Saviour, o! how beautifully is the foul deed here painted! On the head full of divine rays, the bitter curse, the crown of thorns. [7. Bassano, Crowning with thorns (26-27)]

O worthy Saviour, how ironic! The filthiest of deeds is made beautiful in this painting! A head emanating divine rays is crowned with a bitter curse, the crown of thorns.

27 Hoe lijdtsaem sit dien Lyder, van

Vervloeckte en wel moordadige handen,

Bespot, geslagen en in banden

Geknevelt, konstige Bassan.

How passively the Sufferer sits, mocked by cursed and murderous hands, beaten and bound in chains, artful Bassano. How passively the Sufferer sits, mocked by cursed and murderous hands, beaten and bound in chains, in a painting by the skillful Bassano.
28 Daer sien ick weêr een bloedigh stael

‘t Geen ‘s Minnaers eygen hant bemorste,

Gewet op Maeghdelijcke borsten,

En flucx daer op een purpre strael.


There I see another bloody blade, which has been stained by the lover’s own hand, sharpened on virgin breasts; immediately followed by a purple ray. [8. Pieter Lastman, The suicide of Thisbe (28-31).
There I see another bloody blade. This one was stained when a lover put the sword to her own virgin breasts, bringing forth a spurt of blood.
29 Den Iongelingh in ‘t groene gras,

‘t Geen ‘t bloet dat uyt sijn borst quam stralen,

Met droevigh root gaet overmalen,

Iae rooder als het selver was.

The youth in the green grass – who is going to paint over in sad red the blood that has flowed from his breast, even redder than it already was. The boy lying in the green grass is covered with blood from his own breast. Now the red of his blood is going to be reddened even more, alas, by hers.
30 Waer sagh men ooyt een bleecke mont

Soo wel met doot en dootsnick kampen,

De Min verwoedt, door soo veel rampen,

En ‘t hart door Min ter doodt verwondt?

Where did you ever see a pale mouth struggle with death as well as the last gasp, love enraged by so many disasters, and the heart wounded to death by love? What artist has ever captured the feelings of a person overwhelmed by the death of another while she herself is breathing her last gasp? Who has ever shown how love can be driven to madness by disaster after disaster, to the point that love itself leads lovers to kill themselves?
31 Als hier ô Lastman u penceel,

Verruckt door ongemeene weelde

Van konst en verw, weet uyt te beelden,

Op ‘t treurigh gloeyende paneel.

as here your brush, o Lastman, succeeds in depicting, enraptured by uncommon wealth of art and paint, on the sadly glowing panel. That is what your brush achieves, Lastman! Inspired by a prodigious wealth of skill and paint, you depict these sad subjects in glowing color.
32 Maer gints, wat schoone en nieuwe stof

Gaet ons de oogen weêr bekooren,

En om in ‘t Heydensch niet te smooren,

Ons trecken van het Heydensch of.

But there – what beautiful and new subject is now going to charm our eyes, and draws us away from the heathenish to prevent us from smothering in heathendom. [9. Christ appearing to the Magdalene – although not specified in so many words. No artist named (32-35) The version below proceeds from the assumption that the subject is indeed the Magdalene seeing Christ in the garden after his crucifixion and burial (John 20:11-18).]
But now a beautiful new subject charms our eyes. It draws us away from heathenish stories and keeps us from surrendering to heathendom.
33 O wel geloovigh ongeloof!

Hoe smeeckt u tongh, u handt, u oogen,

Aen hem die over langh bewoogen,

Self eer ghy badt, noch schijnt als doof,

B                          Als

O credulous disbelief! how your tongue, your hands, your eyes beg him who so recently moved, even before you prayed, yet seems deaf, To believe the unbelievable! Before you stands the Lord who such a short time ago was receptive to your worship even before you turned to him in prayer. But now he seems deaf to your entreaties, which you utter with your tongue, indicate by your gestures and express with your gaze.
34 Als doof voor kermen en gebeên,

Iae schijnt als honden te verachten,

Die hy alreedts in sijn gedachten

Verheft naer boven van beneên.

seems deaf to pleas and prayers – indeed, seem to despise like dogs, those whom he already in his mind has elevated from below to above? He seems deaf as well to the pleas and prayers of souls in purgatory. Indeed, he seems to despise them like dogs, even though he has the intention of raising them from the underworld to the heavens.
35 Schept moed ô droevigh vrouwen beelt,

Ick sie alreedts van sijne stralen

Vergoode schijnsels op u dalen,

En u sijn zegen met gedeelt.

Take courage O sad woman. I already see the divine illumination from his rays descending on you, and sharing his blessing with you. Take courage, sad woman. You may not see it, but in the painting I can plainly see that the divine illumination from his rays is descending on you, and that the Lord is going to share the blessing of grace with you. [The above paraphrase goes very far in interpreting the meaning of the verses.]
36 O Leyder kindt is dit u handt

U konst soo kies en uytgelesen?

En wiens doch soud het anders wesen

Daer sulck een stoute geest in brandt?

O child of Leiden, is this your hand, your art so correct and exquisite? Whose else could it be, where such a brave spirit shines? [10. Three Magi by a Leiden master, presumably Lucas van Leyden; 36-38]
O child of Leiden, was it you who made this painting with your art at once so precise and yet so exquisite? Who else could have made a work that displays such daring?
37 Met wat een wesentlijck gelaet,

Drie Koningen hun offerhanden

Aen Godt en kinderlijcke handen

Op-offeren! ô overdaedt.

With what proper expression three kings offer their gifts to God and childish hands. O richness! Three kings, each in his own characteristic manner, offer their gifts to God, placing them in the hands of the Christ child. What a rich and copious composition!
38 O kracht van ongemeene konst!

Wat onbelemmertheyt van wesen!

Sou ‘t verw of souden ‘t spieren wesen

Verdienst of opgehoopte gonst?


O power of uncommon art! ! what an unhampered creature! Is it paint or are they muscles, earned reward or accumulated favor? [11. Muscled figure; meaning of last line uncertain]
Now here’s an unusually powerful painting! What it depicts is also powerful, a man who is truly his own man. Is it mere paint or is what we see real muscles? Does the painting owe more to the merits of the artist, or to the well-endowed model?
39 Maer sacht wat schoon, wat aengenaem

Komt Titiaen ons weêr vertoogen,

Och! och ‘t is Rubbens, ‘k ben bedrogen

Hoe wel alleenigh door de naem.

But hush: what beauty, what pleasantness Titian shows us again. Ah no! It’s Rubens, I am deceived – though only by the name. [12. Peter Paul Rubens, Lovers; 39-41)]
Be still! It’s Titian again, with a work of surpassing beauty and grace. What am I saying? It’s not Titian but Rubens. I am deceived, though only in the name of the artist.
40 Wat dartele ongemeene deught

Gaet hier de deught aen welvaert huwen!

O waerdigh Man het is den uwen,

Die wat ghy wilt en kont, en meught.

What agile, uncommon skill here weds virtue to wealth! O worthy man – you are capable of doing whatever you wish, whatever pleases you. This is versatile skill of the highest order, capable of uniting two opposing qualities – virtue and luxury. Rubens, you are so talented that you can accomplish anything at all that strikes your fancy.
41 Wat overvloedt van konst en geest

Komt hier met schat de Minnaers laven!

Waer is ‘er meer van sulcke gaven

Of in u handt of breyn geweest?

What an abundance of art and wit comes here to lavish treasure on the lovers! What is the main source of these gifts – your hand or your mind? You use your art and wit to lavish profuse blessings on the lovers in your painting! Where do these gifts come from – your hand or your mind?
42 Iordaens wat ‘s dit, benijdt ghy noch,

Benijdt ghy desen Man sijn deughden?

Door overvloedt van dartle vreughden,

Gespeelt door Satyrs en gedrogh?

Jordaens: what is this? Do you still envy, envy this man his abilities? Through abundance of agile joys, acted out by satyrs and lowlifes? [13. Jacob Jordaens, Bacchanal (42-43)]
Jordaens: what’s this all about? Do you still envy Rubens his virtuosity? Do you overcompensate by filling your painting with sex, acted out by satyrs and lowlifes?
[The word dartel can mean agile or versatile, as it is used in verse 40, or lusty, as in verse 42.]
43 Laet af wy kennen het geweldt,

De kracht en treck van u penceelen,

Men schrickt voor sulcke konst-paneelen

En sulck een wijdt beploeghde veldt.

B 2                  Sal

Desist! We know the vigor, the power and pull of your brushes. People are frightened by such art-panels and such a wide-plowed field. Cut it out! You don’t have to prove anything to us. We know that your brushwork is full of vigor, power and tension. If you take things too far and overplow your field, you will frighten people off.
44 Sal dit van ‘t hooge Feest een schijn

Geviert van maghten uyt den Hoogen,

Of eerder een bancket der oogen,

Segh grooten Poelenburrigh, zijn?

Is this the appearance of the high feast celebrated by powers from heaven? Or rather a banquet of the eyes? Tell us, great Poelenburch. [14. Cornelis van Poelenburch, Feast of the gods]
Is this what a grand banquet of the gods from on high really looks like? Or is the banquet dished up only for our eyes? The only one who can answer that question is the maker. Which is it, Poelenburch, you great artist?
45 Slaept ginder Mars, soo koen en vroom

Wel eer, en brandend in de wapen,

Ter Brugge seght, is dit u slapen,

Of slaep ick self, en is ‘et droom?

Is that Mars sleeping, once so brave and true and fiery with weapons? Ter Brugghen tell us, is this your sleep or am I asleep and is this a dream? [15. Hendrik ter Brugghen, Sleeping Mars (45-46).]
Is Mars really asleep? Him who we are used to seeing awake and on guard, armed to the teeth? Ter Brugghen tell us, are you nodding and have you forgotten your iconography, or am I asleep, only dreaming of seeing a painting of Mars asleep?
46 Iae Mars die slaept, en ‘t is gewis,

Misschien om haest weêr op te branden,

Maer ghy en slaept niet noch u handen,

Te toonen ‘t geen een wonder is.

Yes, it is Mars who is asleep, for sure, perhaps in order to soon fire up again. But you do not sleep, nor do your hands, in showing something that is such a wonder. No, it’s not Ter Brugghen or I who is sleeping – it really is Mars. Perhaps he’s refreshing himself, to come back all the stronger when he awakes. If there’s anyone who’s not asleep it’s Ter Brugghen. He is all there, putting his talent and manual skill to work to create such a miraculous painting.
47 Francisco Flores wat geval

Gaf u soo schoonen stof te malen,

En ongemeene roem te halen

In dit verheven drie getal?

Frans Floris, what occasion gave you such a beautiful subject to paint, and to win uncommon fame in this exalted threesome? [16. Frans Floris, Holy Family (47-50)]

Frans Floris, who commissioned you to paint such a beautiful subject, allowing you to become immensely famous by painting this exalted threesome?

48 Wat verf! Wat segh ick? vleesch en huyt,

Noch swart noch wit komt sich vertoogen,

De Godtheyt straelt ten Godlijcke oogen,

Iae half geloocke blicken uyt.


What paint! What do I say? Flesh and skin. Neither black nor white appears. The Godhead emanates, from Godly eyes, yes from half-closed eyelids. Did I say paint? No, it’s not paint at all. Nor is it flesh or skin, black or white that we see. It’s the Godhead itself, shining from Godly eyes, though they be half closed.
49 Het voedtsel onser zielen schreyt,

Om spijs en voedtsel sijner leden,

De saelge Moeder stelt te vreden,

De hongerige Godtlijckheyt.

The nourishment of our souls cries for food and nourishment of its limbs, the holy Mother satisfies the hungry divinity. The Christ child, who provides food for our souls, is here the one who is crying for food and bodily nourishment. The Madonna, his holy mother, satisfies the thirst of the hungry divinity.
50 U honger niet, ô waerde vrucht,

Eyscht voedtsel van des Moeders handen,

Ons honger druckt u ingewanden,

‘t Is ons gebreck waerom ghy sucht.

It is not your hunger, o worthy child, that demands nourishment from the Mother’s hands. Our hunger presses on your insides. It’s our lack that makes you moan. Where does this hunger come from? Not from you, precious child. True, you are demanding nourishment from your mother, but what your stomach is really feeling is the hunger of humanity for grace. It’s our deficiency that made the incarnation necessary and that makes you cry for milk.
51 Ach Lastman sien ick weder aen

U brave konst, jae toover-swieren

Door eyndeloose lof te vieren,

In ‘t Vrouwken van Sarepta staen?

O Lastman, do I see once more your able art, your wondrous elegance, which deserve endless praise, in this Woman of Sarepta? [17. Pieter Lastman, Widow of Zarephath]

O Lastman, do I see once more in this example of outstanding art and wondrous elegance, in this Woman of Zarephath, a work by you, deserving of endless praise?

52 O Eng’len bootschap van Pinas

Aen salige Harders by hun schapen,

Hoe klaer getuyght ghy self met slapen,

Wat Meester ooyt u Meester was?

O the angels’ message by Pynas to the blessed shepherds with their sheep, how clearly you affirm yourself by sleeping. Which master was once your master? [18. Jan or Jacob Pynas, Annunciation to the shepherds; meaning of last two lines uncertain]

O, Pynas’s Annunciation to the blessed shepherds with their sheep, how clearly you show by depicting the sleeping shepherds which master was once your master?

53 O grouwsaem! ô ondanckbaer stuck!

Niet ‘t geen ons Honthorst hier gegeven,

Maer ‘s werelts monster heeft bedreven

Een yeders schrick en ongeluck.

B 3              Seer

O horrible! o thankless deed! Not the one Honthorst here gives us, but the world’s monster has committed, the terror and ill-fortune of all. [19. Gerrit van Honthorst, The death of Seneca (53-57). The catchword “Seer” is a typo for “Eer.”]
How horrible! What hideous ingratitude in this piece! I’m not talking about Honthorst’s creation but about the deed committed by the worst monster in the world, who brings terror and ill-fortune to all.
54 Eer wel geluckigh, driemael jae,

Hoe wel door Neroos woedende handen,

In hooge grijsheydt, en in banden

Ter doodt gebraghte Seneca.

Once happy – indeed thrice-happy Seneca, although killed in old age and in chains, by Nero’s furious hands. You were once happy, Seneca – indeed, there was no one happier than you. And here you are in your dotage, in chains, being executed by command of the madman Nero.
55 Die sulck een handt getroffen heeft

En ‘t langh verhoopte end gegeven,

Om door een ander weêr te leven,

Gelijck ghy eertijdts hebt geleeft.

Who was stricken by such a hand and given the long-awaited end, in order, through another, to live again just as you once lived. You who have been struck down, meeting death, to which you had looked forward, in such cruel fashion – you have here been resurrected by Honthorst, looking the way you did in life.
56 Staet vry verbaest wie dit oock siet,

Ghy hebt hier ‘t afgedruckte wesen,

In ‘t welck de wijsheydt staet te lesen,

Maer ‘s Meesters eygen vindingh niet.

Be amazed, whoever sees this. You behold here the imprint of its being, in which wisdom can be read, but not the master’s own invention. Stand amazed, you who see this painting. What you have before you is an impression of a person whose very appearance emanates wisdom – real wisdom, not the product of the artist’s imagination.
57 Soo stondt dat aensicht in sijn doodt,

Soo eel in treck als wel gelijcken,

Hier hebt ghy konst die heeft te wijcken,

Voor geene konst, hoe oudt of groot.

That is how that face looked in death, as noble of feature as it is a faithful depiction. Here you have art that need not cede to any art, however ancient or great. This painting shows how he looked when he died, bestowing on him nobility of feature while depicting his appearance faifhfully. This is art that need not cede pride of place to any other art, however ancient or great it may be.
58 Wat wonder stuck, wat bloet, wat strijdt!

Zijn ‘t Oyevaers gedost in veeren,

Of zijn ‘t veel eer gepluymde Beeren,
Verhit op bloedt, gespitst door nijdt?

What a wondrous piece, what blood, what battle! Are those ostriches decked out in feathers, or are they rather plumed bears, out for blood, urged on by envy? [20. Jan Baptist Weenix, Fighting storks (58-60)]
What an amazing painting, full of blood and conflict! Are those ostriches decked out in feathers? Fighting the way they do, you would sooner think they were bears wearing plumes. These birds are out for blood, in vicious competition with each other over something or another.
59 Wat kracht, wat overstoute handt,

Wat dappre treck, wat schijn van saecken,

Wat wondre keur van tin en daecken,

Wat eel en levendigh verstandt!

What power, what a daring hand, what brave drawing, what an appearance of things, what a wonderful choice of tin and roofs, what noble and lively intelligence! What power, what a daring hand, what assured draftsmanship, what a convincing appearance of depicted objects, what a wonderful choice of pinnacles and roofs, what noble and lively intelligence!
60 Gaf u den Tyber dese Geest

Of komt ghy in de plaets van leeren,

O Wenix Romen self braveeren,

Als had voor u nooyt konst geweest?

Did the Tiber give you this spirit or, O Weenix, did you come not to learn but to face up to Rome itself as if there were no art before you? Did you learn this in Italy, O Weenix, or did you come not to learn but to show up Rome herself, as if they didn’t know what art was before you came on the scene?
61 Maer ach wat kracht vertoont sich daer,

Wat groot wat heerelijck vermogen,

Wat eedle konst in mijne oogen,

Van meer als eene Konstenaer?

But what power reveals itself there! What great, what splendid ability, what noble art do I see, by more than one artist? [21. Unknown subject by three hands (an unnamed “famous friend,” Jan Baptist Weenix and Pieter van den Bosch; 61-66 or 67)]

But what power reveals itself in the painting over there! This is prodigious greatness, this is mastery. This splendid work of art, if you ask me, was painted by more than one artist.

62 Al ‘t geen men anders toonen magh

Danckt een alleen voor konst en leven,

Hier siet men ruym twee Geesten sweven,

De braefste die ooyt yemandt sagh.

Anything one might otherwise display owes its art and life to one alone. Here one sees more than two spirits soaring freely, the ablest one ever did see. All the other paintings you see owe their artistry and paternity to one hand alone. Here one sees the inspired work of two or more minds, the ablest you ever saw.
63 Wie stel ick voor, wie roem ick ‘t meest?

Of u penseel soo rijck in swieren,

Die Koninghs kameren verçieren,

Maer aldermeest u dappre geest?


Whom do I introduce, whom do I praise the most? Either your brush, so rich in grace, which adorns a king’s chambers, but more than everything your brave spirit? Whom do I introduce, whom do I praise the most? Do I start with your brush, famous friend, so rich in grace, whose elegance adorns a king’s chambers? Even more than your art I admire your lively intellect.
64 Beroemde Vrient? Of sal ick weêr

Gepresen Wenix, op gaen halen

U wondre Wonders in het malen,

En konst van scheyen heynd en veer?

Famous friend? Or shall I once more, lauded Weenix, evoke your wondrous wonders in painting and the art of distinguishing near from far? Or shall I once more lavish praise on Weenix, evoking your wondrous wonders in painting and your mastery of spatial perspective?
65 Of sal my porren uwe naem

O Vanden Bos, u handt te loven?

O neen u eer gaet die te boven,

En u vernuft haer bey te saem.

Or will your name, O van den Bosch, urge me to praise your hand? O no, your honor is greater than that, and your cleverness greater than both of them combined. Or will the mention of your name, van den Bosch, inspire me to praise your work? No – it’s not necessary to name your name. Your honor is greater than your reputation, and your cleverness greater than both of them combined.
66 Wat schoon, wat tooverend penseel!

Men watertant door sulcks t’aenschouwen,

En men benijdt de rijcke vouwen

Van ‘t schoon en Vorstelijck fluweel.

What a beautiful, enchanting brush! One drools at the sight. And one envies the rich folds of the beautiful and princely velvet. What beautiful, enchanting brushwork! One drools at the sight. How one would like to fold oneself in that gorgeous, princely velvet.
67 En wat voor marmer heeft Natuur

Naturelijcker ooyt geschapen?

Soo prent de konst sijn roem en wapen

In marmer, vry van stael en vuur.

And has nature ever shaped more natural marble? Thus does art imprint its fame and arms in marble, without steel and fire. Has nature ever shaped more natural marble than the marble we see here? This is the way art imprints its fame and coat of arms in marble, not with steel and fire.
68 Boetvaerde en schoone Magdaleen,

Verwacht niet van mijn rouwe dichten

U groote waerde voor te lichten,

Die stof is meerder als gemeen.


Penitent and beautiful Magdalene, do not expect my rough poems to illuminate your great worth. That subject is greater than run-of-the-mill. [22. Titian, Magdalene (68-69)]

Penitent Magdalene, you beautiful woman, do not expect my rough poems to say anything of value about your great merits. That subject is greater than can be dealt with by my run-of-the-mill talent.

69 Een beter pen heeft uwe lof

Soo hoogh als die haer toon kost halen

Bestaen te schildren en te malen,

Wat my aengaet, ick hou m’ ‘er of.

A better pen has succeeded in painting and depicting your praise as high as its tone could reach. As for me, I will keep away from it. A better pen than mine – that of Joost van den Vondel – has already done as much as it could to paint and depict your praise. As for me, I bow out.
70 Maer wat is dit! wat schoonder Maeght!

Andre del Serto ‘t zijn u handen

Die dese Sterrekens doen branden,

Door ‘t vuur dat s’ in haer oogen draeght.

But what is this! What a beautiful Virgin! Andrea del Sarto – your hands made these stars shine through the fire in her eyes. [23. Andrea del Sarto, Madonna; perhaps an Immaculate Conception, in which the head of the Madonna is surrounded by twelve stars.]

But what is this? What a beautiful Madonna! Andrea del Sarto – your art lit the very stars, by igniting the fire in her eyes, [

71 O schoone Ionckvrouw van der Werf,

Segh wat is meer, dat schoone wesen,

Of konst gepresen, nooyt volpresen

Van schild’ren sonder treck en verf.

O beautiful Miss van der Werf, tell me what is greater: to praise that beautiful creature or her art – never praised enough – of painting without line or paint? [24. Miss van der Werf, embroidery?] Shall I praise the beauty of Miss van der Werf herself or her lauded but yet underappreciated art of painting without line or paint?
72 Wie heeft nu hier de prijs behaelt,

Of hy die tsestigh kinders teelde?

Of Mor vol Mor en dartle weelde,

Die hem met al sijn bastaerts maelt.

Who has won the prize here? He who fathered sixty children? Or Mor, full of spunk and sensuality, who painted him with all his bastards. [25. Anthonis Mor, Father of sixty children]
Who takes the main prize, the subject or the artist? The man who fathered sixty children, whose portrait was painted by Anthonis Mor? Or should it be awarded to Mor, full of spunk and sensuality, who painted him with all his bastards?
[The Woordenboek der Nederlandsche taal gives a definition of mor, which it situates in the province of North Holland, where Amsterdam lies, as “levenskracht, fut.”
73 Is dit een Esel met verlof?
Een gulden seght ghy, ‘k moet bekennen,
Indien ‘er gulden Esels bennen,
Ick maeck ‘er oock een Esel of.
C                                              Hoe
Is this an ass, by your leave? A golden one, you say. I must confess, if there are golden asses, I’ll also make an ass of it. [26. Artist and subject uncertain.]
Is this an ass, by your leave? A golden one, you say? I must confess, if there are golden asses, I’ll admit this is an ass.
74 Hoe is ‘t begeerlijck minne vuur

Van nieuws hervormt in Vrouwe wesen?

Of is ‘er nieuwlijcks op-geresen

Een nieuw en seldsaem Minne dier?

How does the desirable fire of lust take shape anew in the figure of a woman? Or has a new and rare love animal arisen for the first time? [27. Allegory of sensual love (74-76)]
Is this a new way to render lustful desire visible, in the allegorical form of a woman? Or has a new and rare love animal come into being for the first time?
75 En meent hy met de vleugels niet

De swindigheydt van vrouwe sinnen?

Met ‘t brandend hart, de heete minne

Van ‘t geen haer in gedachten schiet.

And does he not signify, with the wings, the speed of woman’s desires? With the burning heart the hot love for that which pops into her mind. Does the inventor of this creature give it wings in order to tell us that women’s desires are as fast as the wind? I’ll bet that the burning heart stands for the heat of her lust for an object of desire that has captured her imagination.
76 Voor my ‘t en roert my noch ‘t en raeckt,

‘t Is mijne plicht de Konst te loven,

Iae was het eers genoegh, verr’ boven

Al ‘t geen des menschen oogh genaeckt.

As for me, it neither moves nor touches me. It is my duty to praise art far above everything that reaches the human eye, if that be honor enough. Personally, this kind of thing does not excite or interest me. I am writing about it because it is my duty to praise art. [Between the lines: Because I have accepted the commission to praise the paintings of Marten Kretzer.] If you want to know, art is by far the greatest thing that the human eye can ever hope to see, and even that is not high enough praise for it.
77 Sandrart u sien ick endlijck daer,

Wat schoonder visch hebt ghy gevangen!

Die nimmer stincken sal, soo lange

Men leeft in Platoos groote jaer.

Sandrart, I see you there at last. What a beautiful fish you have caught! It will never stink for as long as one lives in Plato’s great year. [28. Joachim von Sandrart, Fish]
Sandrart, at last I come to a painting by you. You’ve caught (and captured) a fish, and what a beautiful fish it is! What’s more, since you have put it into paint it will never stink, not from here to eternity.
[“Platoos groote jaer” – Plato’s great year – is a term of 15,000 years, associated erroneously with Plato.]
78 ‘t Bordeel ô Both is veel te bot,

‘t Geen door te groote konst gedreven,

Bordeelen selver maeckt in ‘t leven,

En yeder hart een hoeren kot.


The brothel, Both, is far too gross, which, driven by too great art, itself makes brothels in life and of every heart a whorehouse. [29. Jan or Andries Both, Brothel; the verse plays on the name of the artist, which also means gross.]
Your painting of a brothel, Both, really goes too far. What’s more, you’ve painted it so well that you bring the brothel to life and turn the heart of everyone who sees it into a whorehouse.
79 Rudolph ick sie en bid u aen,

Soo om het wesentlijcke Wesen,

Als om de konst, die nooyt volpresen

Sijn handt aen u heeft derven slaen.

Rudolf I see and worship you, as much for the essence of [your] being as for the art which, never praised enough, has dared to lay its hand on you. [30. Dirck de Quade van Ravesteyn, Portrait of Rudolf II (79-80).]
Rudolf, to see you is to idolize you. That applies to your own most special self as well as to the art, beyond praise, that dares to lay hands on you.
80 En wie kost beter ‘t Vorstelijck breyn

Verlieft op alle deughde schatten,

In ‘t heerlijck beckeneel bevatten,

Als die doorluchte Ravesteyn?

And who better than the illustrious Ravesteyn could capture the princely brain, in love with all virtuous treasures, in the splendid skull? And who is better suited to capture that princely brain, the brain of a ruler who loved all things of true value, to capture it in its own splendid skull, than the illustrious Ravesteyn?
81 Maer Albert Durer uwe handt,

Was noodeloos alhier te prysen,

Wiens wercken ons genoegh bewysen,

De wondre kracht van u verstandt.

But Albert Dürer: needless here to praise your hand, whose works are sufficient proof of the wondrous power of your intellect. [31. Albrecht Dürer, painting of an unnamed subject (81-82)]
But when it comes to Albert Dürer no praise is called for. Your works provide all the evidence necessary that your intellectual powers were extraordinarly great.
82 Die ‘t meest van u vermogen spreeckt

Sou d’alderminste lof verkrygen,

U meeste lof bestaet in swygen,

Daer schrick de stem in stucken breeckt.

He who speaks most of your ability would receive the least praise; your highest praise consists of silence, for anguish breaks the voice in pieces. Those who waste the most words praising your abilities are those who deserve the greatest censure. The highest praise that can be bestowed on you is for the viewer to be silent. The human voice is incapacitated by awe before your art.
83 En die; maer holla wat is dit?

Een Ioseph by sijn waertste panden,

Gequetst door ‘t schaven aen sijn handen

Een swarte nacht gemaelt door Wit.
C 2                   Hoe

[83] And that – say there, what is this? A Joseph with his nearest and dearest, injured by the scraping of his hands, a black night painted by de Wit. [32. Emanuel de Witte, The holy family.]
What have we here? A night scene of Joseph with his nearest and dearest. The carpenter has injured himself by scraping his hands. A black night painted by an artist named White – de Wit.
84 Hoe speelt de Wit hier dus in ‘t swart,

En ginder door de selve handen,

Speelt Wit op verre witte wanden,

En scheyt sich echter even hart.

How de Wit plays here in the dark, and yonder with the same hand Wit plays on distant white walls and distinguishes himself just as powerfully. [33. A second painting, probably a church interior, by de Witte (84-85)]
In his painting of the holy family de Witte evokes darkness. Over there is another work by the same master, and in that one de Witte paints white walls, seen from a distance. In the white manner he distinguishes himself as convincingly as in the black.
85 Doet wit alleenigh al in al

O Konstenaers van alle verwen,

Soo mooght ghy ‘t wit dan ‘t minste derven,

En prijst de Wit dan boven al.

If white alone, O artists, accomplishes all in all of all colors, then you can miss white least of all and praise de Wit above all. Artists say that the color white is the sum of all colors. If that is so, then white is the most indispensable color of all, and Emanuel de Witte, whose very name means white, the most praiseworthy of all artists.
86 O sotte Kleef, wat kleene jonst

U dese naem magh waerdigh vinden,

Ick sie se niet in u Beminde

En over-heerelijcke konst.

O Sotte [Foolish] Cleef, what underappreciation deems this name worthy of you? I fail to see it in your well-loved and altogether delightful art. [34. Cornelis van Cleve, Madonna (86-87)]
O Sotte [Foolish or Crazy] Cleef, that name belittles you unjustly. I fail to see anything foolish or crazy at all in your well-loved and altogether delightful art.
87 Vergeeft my dat ick schielijck moet

Mijn loflijck loven af gaen breecken,

En niet van u Maria spreecken,

En wat u handt noch anders doet.

Forgive me for having to break off my praise so quickly and not to speak of your Maria, and the other works of your hand. Forgive me for having to break off my praise so abruptly, before telling about your Madonna and other creations of your hand.
[Kretzer apparently owned more than one painting attributed to Cornelis van Cleve.]
88 Noch oock Percel’ van d’uwe meê

Die konst in leven kondt hervormen,

Door schepen en door wreede stormen,

Door rotsen, sanden, klip en zee.

Nor yours, Porcellis, who could transform art into life, through ships and through cruel storms, through rocks, sandbars, cliff and sea. [35. Jan Porcellis, Seascape]
The same goes for you, Porcellis. You are able to transform art into life, creating ships and cruel storms, rocks, sandbars, cliffs and the sea itself.
89 Ick sal niet poogen uwe roem

O Rembrant met mijn pen te malen,

Elck weet wat eer dat ghy kont halen

Wanneer ick slechts u name noem.

I shall not attempt to depict your fame with my pen, O Rembrandt. Everyone knows what honor you merit if I merely name your name. [36. Rembrandt van Rijn, unnamed subject]
Rembrandt, there’s no point in trying to praise your fame in my poem. The mere mention of your name is enough to evoke the honor in which you are held.
90 Wat sal ick Mirabel, van Dijck,

Of Vlegels lamp- en kaers-licht prysen

De stommen sullen ‘t vonnis wysen,

Geen leven is hier ongelijck.

Why should I praise Mirabel, van Dyck or Flegel’s lamp- and candlelight? The silent ones will render judgment. No life is here without verisimilitude. [37. Mirabel, Still life.
38. Floris van Dijck, Still life
39. Georg Flegel, Candlelit still life]
Why should I praise the still lifes by Mirabel and van Dyck or Flegel’s lamp- and candlelight piece? Judgment will be rendered by viewers who do not have to say a word. Everything in these pictures is lifelike.
91 En wat is ‘t noodigh Willem Key,

Fabritius meerder af te malen,

Gelijck hy eertijdts gaf de stralen

Van ‘s Heeren woordt de sael’ge Rey.

And why is it necessary, Willem Key, to paint Fabritius more than once, just as he once gave the rays of the Lord’s word to the blessed choir? [40. Willem Key; meaning unclear]
And why is it necessary, Willem Key, to paint Fabritius more than once, just as he once gave the rays of the Lord’s word to the blessed choir?
92 Of oock van Laer op hooger troon

En luchtiger tooneel te stellen,

De kenners moeten d’uytspraeck vellen

En stellen uwe deucht ten toon.

Or to put van Laer as well upon a higher throne and more illustrious stage? The connoisseurs will have to judge and present your abilities. [41. Pieter van Laer, unnamed subject.]
Or why for that matter should I have to elevate van Laer to even greater heights and a more illustrious status than he already occupies? It is not up to me but to true connoisseurs to arrive at a judgment and praise your gifts.
93 En raeck ick eenmael Van de Heem,

Soo sal sich Van den Bos dat belgen,

En swaerlijck dese brock verswelgen,

Dat ick quansuys sijn eer beneem.

C 3                    O neen,

And if I touch on van de Heem, that will annoy van den Bos, who will barely be able to swallow this lump, that I so to say rob him of his honor. [42. Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Still life with food]
And if I start on de Heem, van den Bosch will be infuriated. He would choke on the food in de Heem’s still life and blame me for offending his dignity.
94 O neen, gepresen jonge man,

Geen lof en magh u meer verhoogen,

Hy heeft geen sinnen noch geen oogen

Die uwe Konst niet sien en kan.

Oh no, vaunted young man, no praise could raise you higher. He who cannot see your art has no sensibility and no eyes. [43. Pieter van den Bosch, subject unspecified.]
Oh no, you highly praised young man, no tribute of mine could possibly improve your reputation. Anyone who fails to appreciate your art lacks sensibility and doesn’t have the eye.
95 En stoort u oock niet Asselijn,

Al moet u konst mijn penne derven,

Sy leeft nochtans, en sal niet sterven

Soo langh ‘er Konst-beminners zijn.

Nor should you be offended, Asselijn, though your art must do without my pen. It lives nonetheless and will not die as long as there are art-lovers. [44. Jan Asselijn, Harbor scene (95-96)]
Nor should you be offended, Asselijn, if I do not write enough about your art. It thrives even without my help and will survive as long as there are art-lovers in the world.
96 Ick sie soo verr’ mijn kennis straelt,

Het slaefs te saem en konstigh graven,

Van die soo konstelijcke haven,

Van u wel konstigh afgemaelt.

I see as far as my knowledge reaches, the artful digging by a multitude of slaves of that well-designed harbor painted by you so skillfully. I may be wrong, but what I see is an army of slaves working together to dig the well-designed harbor that you paint so skillfully.
97 U avontstondt hoeft oock, mijn Heer

Sijn naem van my geensins te halen,

Al is u Sonne daer in ‘t dalen,

Eer ‘t morgen wordt verrijst se weêr.

Nor does your evening, sir, need to gain its reputation from me. Though your sun may be setting there, before morning it will rise once more. [45. Jan Asselijn, Sunset (97-98)]
Nor does your painting of a sunset, dear sir, need any help from me in order for its merits to be recognized. Though the sun may be setting in your painting, before morning your reputation will rise once more.
98 Dat dalen van die Wester Son

Doet uwe glans te hooger rysen,

Die nacht sal u den dagh wel wysen

Die selden konst bereycken kon.


That setting of the western sun heightens your radiance yet more. That night will show you the day that art can seldom attain. Your painting of the sun setting in the west enhances the glow of your fame. This night scene opens up to you as bright a day as ever shone on an artist’s career.
99 Wat oogh begrimt my van ter zy?

En schelt my selver sonder spreecken?

Och laes! ‘t is Livius, ontsteecken

Door bitse tooren tegens my.

What eye stares angrily at me from the side? And berates me even without speaking? O alas! it is Lievens, inflamed with harsh wrath against me. [46. Jan Lievens (1607-74), Self-portrait (99-101)]
Whose eye glares at me angrily, askance, and silently berates me? Uh oh, it’s Lievens, and he’s furious with me.
100 Stelt u te vreên doorluchtigh man,

‘k Heb u noch uwe Konst verschoven,

Maer eer gespaert om die te loven,

Wanneer ick niet meer loven kan,

Rest assured, illustrious man, I have not pushed you or your art aside, but merely saved them in order to praise them when I could praise no more. Distinguished man, you have nothing to worry about. I have certainly not ignored you or your art by not having mentioned them until now. I had been saving the best for last.
101 De kracht en deught van u penceel

Wanneer de mijne slaet aen ‘t hellen

Sal mijn gewrichten dan herstellen,

Herstellen weder in ‘t geheel.

The power and skill of your brush, when mine starts to keel over, will restore my joints, restore them entirely. The power and skill of your brush, when my pen starts to falter, will restore my aching hand, restore it entirely.
102 Hoe menigh Landtschap hebt ghy niet

U glimmende Palet ontwreven,

In leven selver boven ‘t leven,

Wanneer men ‘t op sijn schoonste siet.

How many landscapes have you rubbed out of your shining palette, even more lifelike than life itself at its most beautiful? [47. Jan Lievens, Landscape]
How many landscapes have you not wrung from your glorious palette, creating a nature even more beautiful than nature at its best?
103 Gegroet ô schoone Magdaleen,

Wiens oogen klaer van yver branden,

Ghy rockt u peerlen met u handen,

En met de peerlen ‘t hart van een.


Greetings, O beautiful Magdalene, whose eyes burn with zeal. You twist your pearls with your hands, and with the pearls you twist one’s heart apart. [48. Unnamed artist, Mary Magdalene in a golden frame, on panel (103-05)]
Hail to you, beautiful Magdalene. Your eyes are aflame with pious zeal, your fingers spin a string of pearls, the pearls put the heart of the onlooker in a spin.
104 Seght is ‘er meer geweldt of kracht

In u wel schoon maer eerbaer wesen,

Of in des Meesters handt te lesen,

Die sulck een Beeldt ter werelt braght.

Say, is there more force or power to be read out of your truly beautiful yet virtuous being or out of the hand of the master who brought such a figure into the world? Does the tremendous force of this painting emanate from you yourself, as beautiful and truly virtuous as you are, or rather from the hand of the master who was able to create such a powerful painting?
105 Die gulde Lijst verçiert soo veel

Die schoone konst noch dartle swieren,

Als self het gout wel sou verçieren,

Het meer dan wonderlijck paneel.

This gilt frame adorns that beautiful art and supple elegance no more than gold would adorn the more than wondrous panel. The gilded frame adds nothing to the artistry and supple elegance of the painting; not even pure gold could augment the quality of this nearly miraculous panel.
106 Is dit Homeer, dien grooten Heer,

Die seven wyde Steên doet stryden?

Sijn roem doet my de penne myde

Voor sulck een eer, ben ick te teer.

Is this Homer, that great man, who puts seven great cities to war? His fame makes me turn from the pen. For such honor I am too delicate. [49. Unnamed artist, Homer]
Is this the great Homer, who wrote of the war between seven vast cities? How can I go on writing in the face of such immortal fame? I cannot hope to live up to that pretence.
107 Maer met u oorlof schoone Kunst,

Ick denck het alles af te malen,

Noch yeder deught her op te halen

Behoudens yeder sijne gunst.

But by your leave, fine arts, I think I will not depict everything nor commemorate everyone’s skill, and preserve the favor of each. I will therefore excuse myself, fine arts, by your leave, from writing on each and every artist in the collection and each and every quality they display. I hope nonetheless to retain the favor of all.
108 Men verge my de Maen veel eer

Met handt en vingers aen te raecken,

Of een getal van ‘t sant te maecken

Aen d’oever van het groote Meer.


Sooner could you ask me to touch the moon with hand and fingers or to calculate the [number of] grains of sand on the shore of the great sea. You might as well ask me to touch the moon with my hand or to count the grains of sand on the ocean’s shore.
109 Wat mogend Vorst, hoe trots hy praelt

Op grootsheydt en versaemde schatten,

Kost t’effens soo veel konst bevatten

Die geene schat genoegh betaelt?

What mighty ruler, however proud he may be of his glory and collected treasure, could collect so much art than cannot be bought at any price? What mighty ruler, however proud of his glory and possessions, has ever collected so many works of art whose value is incalculable?
110 By hen plagh Hovelingen oogh,

In schijn gewendt sich te verliesen,

Het schoon voor ‘t konstigh te verkiesen

‘t Geen menigh onverstandt bedroogh.

In their world, the eyes of courtiers, accustomed to lose themselves in appearances, prefer that which is beautiful to that which is artful, beauty which deceived many ignorant souls. In the world they inhabit, they are surrounded by courtiers who cannot tell reality from illusion and who prefer prettiness to true art. Many an innocent falls for the same deceit.
111 Maer hier versaemde konst te gaer,

En konst’ge kennis sulck een weelde

Van onverlijckelijcke Beelden,

In ‘t langh verloop van twintigh jaer.

But here art and artistic knowledge have assembled such a wealth of incomparable paintings, in the course of twenty years. But here art and connoisseurship go hand in hand. There paintings, acquired over a period of twenty long years, are of incomparable quality.
112 Dat meer is, yeder schijnt om strijdt,

Van soo veel brave en dappre mannen,

Sijn kracht te hebben in-gespannen,

Geport door hoop genoopt door nijdt.

What is more, each of so many excellent and brave men seem to have competed in exerting their strength, prompted by hope and spurred by envy What is more, they are the result of strenuous competition between a large field of outstanding, fearless contenders. These artists have exerted themselves to the utmost, prompted by hope for recognition and spurred on by the emulation that always drives artists to compete with each other.
113 Om desen Minnaer van de Konst

Mecenas van doorluchte geesten,

Te toonen op het aldermeesten

Haer aldermeeste en grootste gonst.

D                      Maer

in order to show to their utmost this lover of art and mecenas of illustrious spirits, their most and greatest favor. Here the artists do their best for another reason as well: to show their very best work at its most advantageous to a certain art-lover, a protector of illustrious spirits.
114 Maer leyder ô wat leyder druck,

Wat droeve smart en wat verand’ren

De konst en min verlaet malkand’ren,

En scheyt van een, ô ongeluck!

But sad to say, O what sorry oppression, what sad pain and change: art and love leave each other and are parted, o ill-fortune. But sad to say, oppressive sadness and unbearable pain await us at the next turn of the road. Art and love of art are to be separated from each other and wrenched apart. How terrible!
115 O voedtsterlingen schreyt en weent,

U voedtster Heer wiens arm u torste,

Ontruckt u endlijck sijne borste,

En uwe mondt wordt hier gespeent.

O suckling babes cry and whine, your nursing master whose arm carried you, finally tears away his breast, and your mouth will now be weaned. The paintings are like suckling babies, crying and whining as the nurturing owner who carried you in his arms now tears you from his breast – you are weaned and will no longer be fed.

[Van den Bos stretches the meaning of the syllable “min” in the word “minnaar” (lover; verse 113) to extend to the homonym “wetnurse,” which he then spins out in an unlikely metaphor.]

116 Gespeent van ‘t lieffelijck onthael

Van kennis en gesonde reden,

Waer door u konst met wijde schreden,

Opstapte naer de eeren zael.

Weaned from the loving reception of knowledge and common sense by means of which your art, with long strides, mounted to the hall of honor. Weaned from the loving outpouring of knowledge and healthy judgment that swept your art up into the hall of fame.
117 O Amstel, ô ghy scheeprijcke Y,

Och opent al u waterdeuren,

Helpt my dat groot verlies betreuren,

En stort een tranen-vloedt met my.

O Amstel, o you Y rich with ships, O open all your sluices. Help me to mourn that great loss and shed a flood of tears with me. I call upon you, Amstel, and you the busy Y, to open all your sluices and help me mourn that incalculable loss. Cry me a river of tears.
118 Wie sal nu meer de Min met gunst

In wel medoogend’ armen queecken?

Als hy, die niemandt aen moght spreken

Of wierd ontsteecken tot de kunst.


Who now will raise love in pitying sympathetic arms more than he did, to whom nobody could speak without being infected with art? Who now will be left to bring up love of art so favorably, embracing it with compassionate arms, if the man is gone who was so effusive in his love of art that no one could come into contact with him without being infected by it himself.

[Here another homonym of “min”- less – is played off against “meer”- more.]

119 Wie sal volmaeckter danck en eer

Verdienst en trouwe deught beschaffen,

Wat oock den lasteraer magh blaffen,

En looghens strooyen op en neêr?

Who will give more thanks and honor to accomplishment and loyal virtue, whatever the libelous may bark and strew lies high and low? Who can hope to express more gratitude to art, pay it more honor, bestow on it greater effort, loyalty and faithfulness than he? Let the backbiters say what they will, spreading their lies all over town.
120 Maer langer tergh ick mijn gesicht

Noch u gehoor, ô gunstige ooren,

Blijft hier soo wordt de kunst herbooren,

Stopt ghy u reys, ick stop mijn Dicht.

But let me no longer distress my eyes or your hearing, well-wishing listener. Stay here, then art will be reborn. Terminate your journey and I will close my poem.

I’ve agonized my powers of observation and your patient hearing, dear listener, for long enough. By all means stay here – if you do, the art I have described will be reborn. If you end your journey here, I will put an end to my poem.

e y n d e.


                         The End