Gerard ter Borch

Dutch Baroque Painter and Draftsman

1617 - 1681

Self Portrait of Gerard ter Borch

Gerard ter Borch (or Terburg) was a Dutch genre painter, who lived in the Dutch Golden Age.

He received an excellent education from his father, also an artist, and developed his talent very early. The inscription on a study of a head proves that Ter Borch was at Amsterdam in 1632, where he studied possibly under Willem Cornelisz Duyster or Pieter Codde. Duyster's influence can be traced in a picture bearing the date 1638, in the Lonides Bequest (Victoria and Albert Museum). In 1634 he studied under Pieter de Molijn in Haarlem. A record of this Haarlem period is The Consultation (1635) at the Berlin Gallery.

The Consultation: 1635

In 1635 he was in London, and subsequently he travelled in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. It is certain that he was in Rome in 1641, when he painted the small portraits on copper of Jan Six and A Young Lady (Six Collection, Amsterdam). In 1648 he was at Munster during the meeting of the congress which ratified the treaty of peace between the Spaniards and the Dutch, and executed his celebrated little picture, painted upon copper, of the assembled plenipotentiaries--a work which, along with the a portrait of a Man Standing, now represents the master in the national collection in London. The picture was bought by the marquess of Hertford at the Demidoff sale for 1280, and presented to the National Gallery by Sir Richard Wallace, at the suggestion of his secretary, Sir John Murray Scott.

The Ratification of the Treaty of Munster: May 15, 1648

The_Ratification of the Treaty of Munster - 15 May 1648

The independence of the Netherlands was recognized by the Treaty of Munster which was signed between the Dutch and the Spanish in 1648. The treaty, result of long negotiation put an end to the Eighty Years' War on the 18th of June, 1648. The ratification took place in the council chamber of Munster town hall. Gerard Terborch was present and he commemorated the event by this painting.

At this time Ter Borch was invited to visit Madrid, where he received employment and the Honor of Knighthood from Philip IV, but, in consequence of an intrigue, it is said, he was obliged to return to the Netherlands. He seems to have resided for a time in Haarlem; but he finally settled in Deventer, where he became a member of the town council, as which he appears in the portrait now in the gallery of the Hague. He died at Deventer in 1681.

Ter Borch is excellent as a portrait painter, but still greater as a painter of genre subjects. He depicts with admirable truth the life of the wealthy and cultured classes of his time, and his work is free from any touch of the grossness which finds so large a place in Dutch art. His figures are well drawn and expressive in attitude; his coloring is clear and rich, but his best skill lies in his unequalled rendering of texture in draperies, which is seen to advantage in such pictures as The Letter and in The Gallant Conversation engraved by Wille - which exists in various repetitions at Berlin and Amsterdam, and in the Bridgewater Gallery.

Woman Reading a Letter: 1660-62

Woman Reading a Letter:  1660-62

The simplicity of this domestic scene encourages the viewer to delight in the beauty and detail of the objects that it contains. The interaction between the three participants is left open to interpretation and the significance of the letter is not explained. Ter Borch delights in metallic surfaces, for instance the reflections in the candelabrum and the inkwell and stand. The use of deep blue ultramarine edging around the woman's neckline and the rendering of the embroidery around the edge of her skirt are masterly touches. Similarly, the painting of the woman's silk skirt, which is in excellent condition, is a passage of mesmerizing beauty.

At the end of the eighteenth century The Letter belonged to the Amsterdam merchant and art collector Jan Gildemeester. In the painting of his art gallery by Adriaan de Lelie (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), The Letter can clearly be seen hanging on the left-hand wall. This is one of two paintings by Ter Borch in the Royal Collection, both of which were purchased by George IV, an enthusiastic collector of the work of seventeenth-century Dutch masters.

The Letter: 1655

The Letter:  1655

Gallant Conversation
(aka The Paternal Admonition): ca 1654

Gallant Conversation (aka The Paternal Admonition):  ca 1654

This painting having the popular title of Parental Admonition (another version in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin) was the subject of a charming passage by Goethe. In his "Die Wahlverwandtschaften" Goethe notes the delicacy of attitude of the figures. He remarks how the father quietly and moderately admonishes his daughter who is seen from behind. The woman in black, sipping from a glass, Goethe interprets as the young woman's mother, who lowers her eyes so as not to be too attentive to the 'father's admonition'. This moralizing title, however, is without foundation and not in accordance with Ter Borch's usual themes.

The authoritative biographer of the artist interprets the picture in the opposite sense, as a brothel scene, assuming that the seated gentleman holds a coin in his right hand, offering it to the girl. In fact, the detail of the coin is not visible. (The coin is omitted in the engraving Goethe knew). In the Berlin version the passage is rubbed; a former owner may have had it painted over because she or he found it an embarrassing allusion. The Amsterdam version does not show the coin either, but its original paint surface is generally abraded; thus it is impossible to tell if it ever included the tell-tale coin.

Ter Borch's psychology is so delicate that the common scenes he repeatedly painted are raised to the level of highly civilized life. That Goethe's interpretation was possible at all shows the refinement of Ter Borch's treatment. Even if he made a mistake, Goethe had the right feeling for the way Ter Borch treated his subjects. Psychologically and pictorially he retains a sensitive touch and delicacy. The young woman is seen from behind; thus her face is averted. The only flesh visible is her neck, which is modeled with tender, silvery grey shadows. We have, however, opportunity to admire the silver-grey satin and black velvet of her gown.

Ter Borch's minuteness and nicety of handling concentrate largely on painting stuffs. Contrary to Vermeer's paintings, the dim light and the subdued chiaroscuro do not allow a forceful grasp of the whole field of vision. The light comes mostly from the front and stops at the glossy surfaces of the costumes and other textures.

Ter Borch's works are comparatively rare; only about eighty have been catalogued. Six of these are at the Hermitage, six at the Berlin Museum, five at the Louvre; four at the Dresden Museum, and two at the Wallace Collection. The artist's painting The Suitor's Visit, ca. 1658, in the Andrew W. Mellon Collection, was used on the cover of Marilyn Stokstad's second edition of Art History.

The Suitor's Visit

The Suitor's Visit:  ca 1658

This is one of Terborch's many paintings that illustrate the theme of courtship. In a darkened interior embellished with gilt leather walls and an ornate marble and carved wooden fireplace, a group of fashionably dressed youth are gathered. The features of the man entering at the left, the suitor, are reputedly those of Terborch's talented pupil Caspar Netscher.

From: Wikipedia

Other Works of Gerard Terborch

(This is not intended to be an all inclusive representation but what my meager efforts have been able to find.)

Senex Magister

A Guard Room Interior with a Soldier Blowing Smoke in the Face of His Sleeping Companion

A Guard Room Interior with a Soldier Blowing Smoke in the Face of His Sleeping Companion

Lady at her Toilette: ca 1660




Card-Players: ca 1650

Card Players:  ca 1650

The Concert: ca 1657


The singer is accompanying herself by playing the theorbo.

The Family of the Stone Grinder: 1653-55

The Family of the Stone Grinder:  1653-55

Terborch's Knifegrinder's Family is atypical. The painter's approach gives the subject - labor and poverty - the spiritual intensity of a parable.

The Glass of Lemonade: 1655-60

The Glass of Lemonade:  1655-60

The young woman depicted in the painting is Gesina Ter Borch, the artist's sister, while the young man is his brother Moses.

Woman Peeling Apple: 1650

Woman Peeling Apple:  1650

Helena van der Schalcke as a Child: ca 1644

Helena van der Schalcke (1646-1671):  ca 1644

In 1635-36 Terborch was in London where he acquired familiarity with the English court portraiture. During the 1640's he began to make extraordinary small and miniature portraits. One of the most touching is his tiny portrait of Helena van der Schalcke as a Child, which holds his own when hung next to the pictures Hals and Rembrandt made of children.

Boy Ridding his Dog of Fleas: ca 1665

Boy Ridding His Dog of_Fleas: ca 1665

With Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch is one of the most outstanding of Dutch genre painters. Their paintings are based on close observation of their contemporaries and their surroundings, and yet elements from everyday life are often combined to suggest a particular mood, create an intriguing situation or point a moral.

In his youth he travelled widely in Europe - to Germany, Italy, England, France and Spain. By 1654 he had settled in Deventer in his native province of Overijssel, where he achieved great professional success. He also became one of the town's regent class, serving as a councilor and painting a group portrait of his fellow regents.

In the genre scenes of his early years ter Borch depicted the life of soldiers but after settling in Deventer his paintings often showed elegant interiors in which small groups of figures talk, drink and make music. In this painting ter Borch shows a humbler setting and a mundane subject and yet he treats with the same delicacy and refinement the depiction of the differing textures of fur, hair, wood and felt. As with the painting of the lace-maker by Netscher, the painting gives an almost monumental quality to an everyday situation.

Curiosity: ca 1660

Curosity:  ca 1660

Terborch painted a significant number of letter readers and writers. Depictions of this sort enjoyed immense popularity during this period. Since letter writing was primarily (though not exclusively) a leisure activity among the well-to-do it is not surprising that paintings of this theme were so prevalent during the decades in which the Dutch economy expanded greatly.

The Curiosity, completed around 1660, features three young women in an ornate interior. One sporting an ermine-trimmed jacket attentively writes a letter as another woman, identifiable as a maid because of her comparatively simple attire, peers inquisitively over her shoulder. To their right stands a young lady of extraordinary beauty and bearing. Her station and propriety are connoted not only by her luxurious garments but also by her long handkerchief. This accouterment functioned chiefly as a fashionable status symbol for upper-class women in the Dutch Republic.

The Dancing Couple: ca 1660

The Dancing Couple:  ca 1660

This is one of an outstanding group of interior scenes with figures painted by ter Borch in Deventer in the years around 1660. He paints young men and women in elegant rooms, talking, dancing, drinking, making music and flirting. In addition to his skill in setting the scene, ter Borch possesses a remarkable technical gift, especially in the description of texture. No Dutch artist rendered satin more effectively than ter Borch nor was able to differentiate better in the medium of oil paint between the textures of a leather jerkin, a gleaming breastplate, a table carpet, a wooden lute and a brass candelabra.

In 1658 ter Borch was in Delft where he witnessed a document with the young Vermeer. This recently discovered evidence of a direct contact between the two artists confirms what has long been suggested: that the simplicity and restraint of ter Borch's style exercised an important influence on the Delft painter.

Memorial Portrait of Moses ter Borch: 1667-69

Memorial Portrait of Moses ter Borch:  1667-69

This portrait of Moses Terborch, killed in a battle at an early age, was painted by his elder brother and sister, Gerard and Gesina Terborch.

A Woman Spinning

A Woman Spinning

Ter Borch's fame rests mainly upon the genre pictures he made after the middle of the 17th century which help define the subjects and pictorial schemes used by many artists of his generation and those who worked later. What sets him apart is his mastery of subtle narration which can charge every episode with subdued tension. His rendering of simple themes, such as a woman spinning, shows the same knowledge of people as his more ambitious pieces.

The Visit

The Visit

Woman Writing a Letter: ca 1655

Woman Writing a Letter:  ca 1655

Woman at a Mirror: 1650

Woman at a Mirror:  ca 1650

The scene seems almost a snapshot of a moment from everyday life. Genre paintings depicting stylishly dressed people in an interior were a specialty of Ter Borch's.

Mother Combing the Hair of Her Child: 1652 - 53

Mother Combing the Hair of Her Child:  1652-53

This painting is also known as Hunting for Lice. The models for the painting are probably the stepmother and one of the half-brothers of the artist.

Woman Drinking Wine: 1656-57

Woman Drinking Wine:  1656-57

Woman Playing the Lute

Woman Playing the Lute

Woman Washing Hands: ca 1655

Woman Washing Hands:  ca 1655

At Deventer, Ter Borch developed an independent form of genre which in the meticulousness of its execution seems to be close to the Leiden variant. In connection with his remarkable talent for sensitive rendering of the texture of different fabrics, which in all of his mature paintings constitutes a major pictorial motive, Ter Borch showed a preference for subjects associated with Vanity or Luxury. This preference must have a partially aesthetic background, for these subjects allowed him to paint elegant interiors and richly dressed ladies, as in this picture.

The Concert: ca 1675

The Concert:  ca 1675

Ter Borch's fame rests mainly upon the genre pictures he made after the middle of the 17th century which help define the subjects and pictorial schemes used by many artists of his generation and those who worked later. What sets him apart is his mastery of subtle narration which can charge every episode with subdued tension.

In contrast to Pieter de Hooch, Ter Borch maintains his fine taste and craftsmanship in his genre pieces until the very end. His contact with Vermeer in Delft in 1635 may have had an impact on the younger master. Then there conceivably was a shift; some of Ter Borch's late works seem to show a sign of Vermeer's influence. The fullness and clarity of the foreground figure playing the cello in the Concert at Berlin and the bright illumination of the room recall the Delft master; but it is also possible that the two artists arrived at similar solutions independently. In any event, the Ter Borch, the exquisite and minute treatment of materials, textures, and stuffs with the most intricate light accents is completely personal. The spatial relationships are not grasped with Vermeer's sureness, and the composition lacks the Delft painter's masterly consideration of the surface plane and the adjustment of the spatial accents to the overall design.

It will be noted that the figure playing the harpsichord has no Ter Borch character. Originally this figure represented a man. Ter Borch subsequently transformed the man into a woman, and a whimsical restorer, who worked on the picture at the end of the 19th century because of its bad state of presentation, changed the woman's gown and gave the model his wife's features.

The Music Lesson

The Music Lesson

A Concert: ca 1675

A Concert:  ca 1675

Ter Borch's fame rests mainly upon the genre pictures he made after the middle of the 17th century which help define the subjects and pictorial schemes used by many artists of his generation and those who worked later. What sets him apart is his mastery of subtle narration which can charge every episode with subdued tension. Few genre painters ever revealed more delicately the character of three individuals and their relation to each other as they ostensibly go about their business of making music in a drawing-room.

Seated Girl in Peasant Costume: ca 1650

Girl in Peasant Costume Probably Gesina the Painter's Half Sister:  ca 1650

The model for this painting was the artist's sister Gesina.

A Lady Reading a Letter: ca 1662

A Lady Reading a Letter: ca 1662

In the seventeenth-century Netherlands, middle-class life was a very common subject in the genre paintings of many artists, but Gerard Terborch gave a specific twist to this type of work. His domestic scenes show small groups or single figures at their everyday occupations, companionable or self-absorbed as the case may be.

The depiction of a peaceful moment is complemented by Terborch's mastery of the depiction of materiality. He captures the precious silk of the dress in inimitable fashion, catching the viewer's attention with his modulated highlights.

The Lute Player

The Lute Player

The Lute Player: 1667 - 70

The Lute Player:  1667-70

The young woman in this picture seems engrossed in her lute-playing; bending forward a little, she seems to be concentrating on the sheet music on the table as she plucks the strings of her instrument. The generously laid-out outline of the figure, overlapped by nothing, dominates the picture, giving it peace and harmony. The surrounding space, on the other hand, retreats into the darkness of the background, becoming both setting and foil, and establishing a relationship of tension with the central motif. On the wall, a map can just be made out.

The Message

The Message

Officer Writing a Letter

Officer Writing a Letter

It is thought to be an early work of the artist.

An Officer Dictating a Letter

An Officer Dictating a Letter

Portrait of a Young Man: ca 1670

Portrait of a Young Man:  1670

The Reading Lesson

The Reading Lesson

Portrait of a Man Reading: ca 1675

Portrait of a Man Reading:  ca 1675

Terborch, a refined painter of domestic scenes, was also a reasonably successful portraitist. His portraits have the same character as his genre paintings. They include incidental details and portray their subjects within domestic interiors.

Man Offering a Woman Coins: 1662-63

Man Offering a Woman Coins:  1662-63

This painting is euphemistically known as The Gallant Officer. In this mercenary love scene a soldier offers pieces of money to a young lady who is charming in type and dress. Her reaction is not surprise. The stuff painting is particularly excellent, as is the rendering of the facial expressions and the fine draftsmanship and subtle lighting of the hands; also the still-life on the table. The apparent casualness is the result of careful thought and execution. The appearance of the tip of the woman's shoe peeking out from under the edge of her satin dress at the tremendous toe of the soldier's wonderful hip boot is as calculated as the color harmony of opulent browns, reds, buff, white, and silver.

A Young Woman Playing a Theorbo to Two Men: 1667 - 68

A Young Woman Playing a Theorbo to Two Men:  1667-68

Several versions are known of the aristocratic interior by the artist.

Many artists have painted beautiful satins and silks , but no one has ever depicted satin more exquisitely than the much-travelled Dutchman Gerard ter Borch. First trained by his father Gerard ter Borch the Elder, who had lived in Italy in his youth, the precocious young painter worked in Amsterdam and Haarlem before venturing to Germany, Italy, England, France and Spain. In 1646 he went to Munster, where he witnessed the ratification of the treaty of 1648 signaling the triumphant end of the Dutch wars of independence from Spain. In 1654, he married and settled down, permanently, in Deventer.

Whether miniature full-length portraits, or scenes of - supposedly - everyday life, ter Borch's pictures are distinguished by technical and psychological refinement. It seems curious, therefore, that he first specialized in guardroom subjects - although he brings even to the rowdy theme of garrisoned soldiers an element of stillness and reflection. His best-known paintings, however, represent elegant interiors with only a few figures, one of them usually a young woman in ravishing pale satin. Here, in an old-ivory bodice trimmed with fur and a white skirt setting off her fair hair, her shoe propped against a foot warmer, she plays the theorbo, an early form of lute, accompanying the man holding a song book. A man in a cloak looks on, and a spaniel seems to listen. Behind them is a curtained bed. Under the red Turkish carpet covering the table lies a single playing card, the ill-omened ace of spades.

The woman and the singing man each appear in other paintings by the artist, as do the silver box and candlestick - this is 'selective' naturalism, a scene composed from the imagination with ingredients assembled from drawings and studio props. In Dutch paintings of this type music-making is usually suggestive of love, while playing cards may be emblems of improvidence, and dogs and foot warmers ucan signify base desires. Yet it would be foolhardy to read this subtle painting, with its subdued tonality, as a scene of the demi-monde. We can never know what the relationships of these three figures are, and their thoughts and feelings, so delicately implied, are infinitely ambiguous. That, surely, was the artist's intention: to evoke imperfectly understood events, tantalizing in their suggestion of mutability and transience.

The Duet: Singer and Theorbo Player-1669

The Duet: Singer and Theorbo Player-1669

The Violinist: ca 1665

The Violinist

Aletta Pancras: 1649-1707

Aletta Pancras: 1649_1707

Portrait of Aletta Pancras, wife of Francois de Vicq.

Portrait of Francois de Vicq, since 1697 several times mayor of Amsterdam. Standing at a table where his hat is. In the left hand a cane.

Portrait of Francois de Vicq

Gerard Terborch painted the various members of his family, but also the rich and famous of the period, including Francois de Vicq, burgomaster of Amsterdam. He often set his subjects against and empty, neutral background so that nothing would detract from the subject: the person in the portrait.

Andries de Graeff - (1611-78)

Andries de Graeff - (1611-1678)

Free Imperial Knight Andries de Graeff was a very powerful member of the Amsterdam branch of the Graeff - family during the Dutch Golden Age. He became a mayor of Amsterdam and a powerful Amsterdam regent after the death of his older brother Cornelis de Graeff. Like him and their father Jacob Dircksz de Graeff he opposed the House of Orange. In the mid 17th century he controlled the finances and politics.

Andries was called the last regent and mayor from the dynasty of the "Graven", who was powerful and able enough to rule the city of Amsterdam.

De Graeff was also an Ambachtsheer (Lord of the manor) from Urk en Emmeloord, and during the late 1650's chief councilor of the Admiralty of Amsterdam.

Cornelis de Graeff: 1650-1678

Cornelis de Graeff: 1650-1678

Cornelis de Graeff, also Andriesz Cornelis de Graeff was a Dutch nobleman and chief landholders of the Zijpe and Haze Polder. He came from the family De Graeff and was the only son of Andries de Graeff and Elisabeth Bicker van Swieten. Johan de Witt was a cousin of his.

Cornelis de Graeff (1650-1678)

Cornelis de Graeff: (1650-1678)

Der Lesende
(The Reading)

Der Lesende

Gerard Abrahamsz van der Schalcke : 1609-67

Gerard Abrahamsz van der Schalcke: 1609-67)

Godard van Reede: 1588-1648

Godard van Reede:  1588-1648)

Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of an Officer: ca 1680

Portrait of an Officer: ca 1680

Portrat des Conde de Penaranda

Portrat des Conde de Penaranda

Ter Borch Portret van Antonie Charles de Liedekercke, zijn vrouw Willemina van Braeckel en hun zoon Samuel

Ter Borch Portret van Antonie Charles de Liedekercke, zijn vrouw Willemina van Braeckel en hun zoon Samuel

The subdued and somewhat melancholy portrait by Ter Borch is in contrast to the portraits that were made by Verspronck. The blushing The Liedekercke and his wife with beautiful clothes and expensive jewelry when presented themselves as wealthy and prosperous people. This later portrait, they are soberly dressed. Luxurious and fashionable is the elegant costume of Samuel. He wears a short jacket outstanding, including rose-colored ribbons and reach a long gray coat trimmed with gold braid.

The Dispatch: 1658-59

The Dispatch: 1658-59

Source: Gerard Terborch - Online

Source: Art Renewal Center

Source: Web Gallery of Art

This page is the work of Senex Magister

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