Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits


JOHANNES VAN HAENSBERGEN (Gorcum / Utrecht 1642 – The Hague 1705)

Portrait of a Lady of the Von Stein-Callenfels Family

signed J.V.H.F in the lower left

oil on panel

11 ⅛ x 8 ⅓ inches         (28.5 x 21.5 cm.)


Van Zuylen van Nijevelt Collection, Wassenaar

Kunsthandel S. Nystad, The Hague, 1981

Private Collection, The Netherlands until the present time



Sturla J. Gudlaugsson, “Ten onrechte aan Caspar Netscher toegeschreven schilderijen van Adriaen van der Werff, Renier de la Haye, Thomas van der Wilt, en Johannes van Haensbergen” in Oud Holland, volume 65, Brill, 1950, pp. 245 – 246, no. 10, illustrated

Marjorie E. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher, Davaco Publishers, Doornspijk, 2002, p. 373, c 183a

J.W. Salomonson, Diversiteit en Samenhang, Catalogus van een Studiekabinet, Academische Uitgeverij Eburon, Delft, 2016, pp. 114 – 115, no. 25, illustrated


Johannes van Haensbergen was born in 1643 either in Gorcum where he lived when young, or according to Arnold Houbraken in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en schilderessen, Utrecht.[1] It is believed that his first instructor was Cornelis van Poelenburgh, as his early works of Italian landscapes and mythological scenes reflect that of the artist. In 1668 he is recorded as a member of the Guild of St. Lucas in Utrecht. By 1669 he had joined Confrerie Pictura in The Hague and married Johanna van Heusden. It is also there that he switched to painting portraits, probably because it proved more lucrative. These portraits emulate the style of Caspar Netscher, one of the leading portraitists then active in The Hague. [2] 

Museums that acquired works by Van Haensbergen for their permanent collections include those of Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin, Budapest, Darmstadt, Detroit, Dresden, Glasgow, Haarlem, The Hague, Karlsruhe, Minneapolis, Paris, Saint Petersburg, Schwerin, and Ulster.

There are four known versions of the Portrait of a Lady of the Von Stein-Callenfels Family by Van Haensbergen. Ours is the only one signed by the artist. All are about the same size with three having been painted on panel and one on canvas. One portrait is in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt (inventory no. GK 296). The other three, including ours, are recorded in diverse collections. Believed to have been executed circa 1674 and to represent a member of the patrician family Von Stein-Callenfels, the multiple versions were either originally intended for various members of the extended family or to be hung in different family residences. [3]

In this portrait a beautiful young woman leans on a pedestal in front of a garden at twilight. Portraits such as this became popular in a period in which The Netherlands had become the richest country in the world. Formatted as a “precious cabinet painting” and “developed as an affirmation of [a] distinguished social position”, such portrayals that depicted an “elegant and informal likeness” as well as a certain “cosmopolitan savoir faire” held great appeal to a now enlarged upper class. [4] Our sitter is dressed in the latest fashion of an orange satin dress with gossamer sleeves and umber colored satin wrap. Coiffed in the contemporary hairstyle of corkscrew curls framing the face with the back swept into a bun, her hair is bedecked with pearls. [5] Around her neck, wrist, and bodice of her dress are more strands. Her large pear-shaped earrings were the most popular type of pearls in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They could range up to 20 millimeters in diameter and were called unions d’excellence, reflecting the difficulty of finding perfectly matched pearls of such large size. [6] The pearls are of course indicative of the sitter’s wealth. 

Much in demand during this period were portraits that placed sitters in a garden or on a terrace at sunset. Such imagery was intended to suggest ownership of a country estate. Land in The Netherlands was a highly prized commodity and in extremely limited supply. The second and third quarters of the seventeenth century saw a rise in the purchasing of country estates by wealthy townsmen and with the acquisition of an estate came an elevation in social status. Life in the country was perceived as peaceful, contemplative, and free from worry or hardships, a time to pursue pleasure. If property was unaffordable, the assumption of ownership could be attained in a painting. By having the light in these works reflect sunset, the suggestion of tranquility and the antique were heightened. [7] The inclusion of two classical statues in the garden is of course a reference to antiquity and stemmed from the popularity of pastoral literature which presented a vision of Arcadia as a paradise ruled by Pan, inhabited by nymphs, satyrs, shepherds, dryads, and other acolytes, dedicated to the pursuit of love. It suggested a perfect world free of the mundane tribulations of daily life, particularly those encountered in town and court. [8]

The draped curtain to her right recalls the dynastic tradition of the curtained structures under which royals sat on ceremonial occasions. [9]

[1] Arnold Houbraken compiled from 1719 – 1721 the first comprehensive survey of Dutch painting from the Golden Age – De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en schilderessen.

[2] Adriaan van der Willigen, Fred G. Meijer, “Jan van Haensbergen” in A Dictionary of Dutch and Flemish Still-life Painters Working in Oils 1525 – 1725, Primavera Press, Leiden, 2003, p. 98.

[3] Marjorie E. Wieseman, Caspar Netscher, op.cit., p. 373, no. c183.

[4] Ibid, p. 99.

[5] Saskia Kuus, “Jan Mijtens” in Pride and Joy, Children’s Portraits in the Netherlands, 1500 – 1700, exhibition catalogue Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem, October 7 – December 31, 2000, p. 223.

[6]  “Pearls in Human History, The European Tradition” in Pearls: A Natural History, The American Museum of Natural History, New York, 2001, p. 82.

[7] Scott A. Sullivan, The Dutch Gamepiece, Rowmant Allenheld Publishers, Totowa, New Jersey, 1983, pp. 62-63.

[8] James Hall, “Arcadia” in Dictionary of Subject and Symbols in Art, Harper Row Publishers, New York, 1979, pp. 30-31; and Alison McNeil Kettering, The Dutch Arcadia. Pastoral Art and its Audience in the Golden Age, Totowa, New Jersey, 1983, pp. 10-11, 18, 65, 70-71.

[9] Lorne Campbell, Renaissance Portraits, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1990, pp. 109, 115.


Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

Tel: (212) 517-3643            Email: