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 Willem Schellinks  (1627 - 1678)

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Lived/Active: Netherlands      Known for: paintings

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Ad Code: 2
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Christie's London, King Street:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Schellinks visited Italy as part of a Grand Tour which he undertook between 1661 and 1665, partly financed by the family of his young charge, the thirteen-year-old Jacob Thierry the Younger (1648-1709), and partly funded by Laurens van der Hem (1621-1678), whose price was that Schellinks should make drawings of the places he visited which could be included in the vast atlas that van der Hem was compiling.  The journey can be reconstructed not only through Schellinks's series of drawings, but also through the diary he kept on their travels, which was later written up in a fine copy now in the Royal Library in Copenhagen. 

Having visited Malta and Sicily, Schellinks and his companion traveled north to Rome in 1664, following the west coast of Italy via Naples.  He drew the so-called Grotto of Virgil at Posillipo, also called the Crypta Neapolitana.  It was popularly thought at the time to be the resting place of the great poet but in fact it was the product of a feat of Roman engineering: a tunnel bored through the mountains, 700 metres in length, providing easy access between Posillipo and Naples.  Schellinks wrote an extensive description of the site, which is attached to the mount beneath the drawing, and on which he may have based his later diary entries.  Schellinks's composition is striking in its similarities to an earlier drawing of the Grotto which is attributed to Willem van Nieulandt (1584-1635) and which must have been made around 1600 (Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum; Drawn to Warmth, p. 174, fig. E).  Although different in style, with its rigid penmanship, that drawing shows the Grotto from exactly the same angle, with very similar foliage hanging over the entrance and a similar deployment of mules and figures in the foreground to offer scale.  Interestingly, both drawings show a draughtsman and his companion seated on the rocks in the foreground.  It seems likely that this is a way for both artists to attest the accuracy of their views: a means of assuring us that what we see is a faithful representation of what is there in life.  It remains to be proven whether it was purely coincidence that van Nieulandt and Schellinks both represented the Grotto in such a way, or whether Schellinks was aware of the earlier drawing. The van Regteren Altena collection includes another very similar view of the Grotto, from the Circle of Schellinks.

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