Gerbrand van den Eeckhout

1621 - 1674

Place Born



Gerbrand (Gerbrandt) van den Eeckhout was baptized ‘Garbrant’ on the 22nd of August 1621 in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. His paternal grandfather, Pieter Lodewijcksz., had left the Catholic south of the Netherlands in the 1570s and fled to the northern provinces on account of Mennonite (doopsgezind) conviction. He first lived with his family in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Harlingen before he became a citizen of Amsterdam in 1588. His son Jan Pietersz. (1584-1652), the father of the artist, was the first to add ‘van den Eeckhout’ to his name. In 1606 he married Grietje Claesdr. (1586-1631), the daughter of a shoemaker from Amsterdam. He stated that he was a goldsmith from Harlingen living on Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat. The two brothers of the bride acted as the godfathers of Gerbrand in 1621. One of them, the cloth merchant Jan Claesz. Leijdecker, was portrayed by Rembrandt in 1642 as one of the members of the Night Watch. Only four of the couple’s nine children were alive when Gerbrand’s mother died in 1631. His father remarried two years later. His second wife was Cornelia Willemsdr. Dedel (1594-1660) from Delft. She came from an influential and well-to-do family with artistic connections. Her aunt was married to the Leiden painter Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburg. One of the couple’s sons, Jacob Isaacsz. van Swanenburgh, later became the first teacher of Rembrandt.

Hardly anything is known about Gerbrand’s artistic education. It is likely that he received his first training in the workshop of his father who may have had plans for his son to also become a goldsmith. This notion finds support in a group of design drawings by Gerbrand of frames for paintings, furniture and goldsmith work, mostly in the auricular style, that were later engraved and published in Amsterdam in 1655. Apparently Gerbrand was more drawn to becoming a painter. It is the art historiographer and painter Arnold Houbraken who in 1718 mentions that Gerbrand joined Rembrandt’s studio but without mentioning exactly when. There is however no written document confirming Houbraken’s information, therefore mainly on stylistic grounds it has recently been doubted that the artist trained with Rembrandt. At the same time, judging by his choice of subject matter, especially for his biblical history paintings which frequently show very rarely depicted stories, and by the style of most of his drawn oeuvre, Gerbrand must have been in close contact with Rembrandt. That they apparently even became friends can be deduced from another of Houbraken’s biographies. In his life of the Dutch landscape painter and printmaker Roelant Roghman (1627-1692) Houbraken calls both him and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout friends of Rembrandt. This is confirmed by the last will of Gerbrand who referred to Roghman as ‘his old acquaintance’, leaving him 50 guilders. Indirectly, this in turn lends credibility to Houbraken’s account of both artists’ friendship with Rembrandt.

Volker Manuth



Available Art Works

Sarah Returned to Abraham

Work Available
Historical Period: 1600-1720 Baroque
Sarah Returned to Abraham