Maarssen, the Netherlands
A gifted amateur painter, draftsman and etcher and a pupil of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Constantijn Danaiel van Renesse is best known for his drawings and etchings. He was born in Maarssen, near Utrecht in 1626 to a scholarly family, the son of a Reformed Protestant minister and theologian who served as an army chaplain. His mother was related to Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), the secretary to the Prince of Orange. Van Renesse entered Leiden University in 1639, where he read literature and studied mathematics. He was interested in drawing from an early age; his earliest surviving drawing is dated to 1642. His early drawings are in the detailed style of Pieter Quast (1605/1606-1647). He may have been a pupil of Rembrandt as early as 1645. An inscription by van Renesse on the back of one of his drawings recounted that he showed that drawing to Rembrandt in 1649 and that he had previously studied with the master. Around 1650 he created a drawing that shows a group of artists drawing from a nude model, apparently Rembrandt and his pupils. Some of his drawings have corrections that have been attributed to Rembrandt, although scholars differ; the corrections may have been made instead by Rembrandt’s pupil Samuel von Hoogstraten (1627-1678) or by van Renesse himself. Only a few paintings by van Renesse survive; a1983 catalog lists only six. His best-known painting, The Family Concert Party (1651, Salzburg: Residenzgalerie) depicts his father, brothers and sister and includes a self-portrait. He learned etching by the end of the 1640s; his earliest dated print is from 1650. Some seventeen prints are attributed to him, all made before he was appointed Town Clerk in the town of Eindhoven in 1653. He served in that post for the rest of his life. He continued to draw and probably continued to take lessons from Rembrandt. The style of his drawings developed to be more like that of his teacher, so much so that three drawings formerly given to Rembrandt were re-assigned to van Renesse as recently as 1997. Altogether about 50 drawings have been attributed to van Renesse, the last dated to the early 1670s. He died of cholera in 1680. (TNB 7/2012) Selected bibliography: Bevers, Holm, Lee Hendrix, William W. Robinson and Peter Schatborn. Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference. Exhibition catalog, pp. 9-25, 182-195. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009. Royalton-Kisch, Martin. “From Rembrandt to Van Renesse: Some Re-Attributed Drawings. The Burlinngton Magazine, vol. 142, no. 1164 (Mar. 2000), pp. 157-164.