DIRCK DIRCKSZ. SANTVOORT
1610 – Amsterdam – 1680
Dirck Santvoort was born in Amsterdam into a family of painters. He was the son of Dirck Pietersz. Bontepaert (1578-1642), grandson of Pieter Pietersz. and the great-grandson of Pieter Aertsen (1508-1575), famous for his genre and religious scenes often featuring kitchen still lifes. Dirck probably studied with his father, whose work no longer survives.
Dirck specialized in portrait painting, both single portraits of adults and groups such as The governesses and wardresses of the Spinhuis, 1638 (Amsterdam Museum). He was the leading painter of children in Amsterdam towards the middle of the seventeenth century. His first known dated child portrait is the 1632 Portrait of a young girl holding buttercups, with her dog beside her (Richard Green Gallery, London). The last dated works that can be firmly attributed to him are from 1645. Santvoort seems to have become wealthy and largely ceased painting, although he remained active in the painters’ guild. He was its Dean in 1658 and was still acting as an assessor of paintings in 1678. Santvoort married twice, the first time in 1641 to Baertjen Pont, with whom he had a son named Rembrandt in 1648, and secondly in 1657 to Tryntje Riewerts (d.1689). He died in Amsterdam in 1680.
Santvoort was superb at capturing both the radiant complexion of a child and their air of questioning innocence. Earlier works such as the portrait of the thirty-month-old Willem van Loon, 1636 (Museum van Loon, Amsterdam) are formal and precise, with exquisite attention to the black and white costume. His portraits of Martinus Alewijn and his sister Clara Alewijn, both of 1644 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) are full of colour and reflect a sophisticated handling of the fashionable pastoral portrait style.
The work of Dirck Santvoort is represented in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the Amsterdam Museum; the Six Collection, Amsterdam; the Museum van Loon, Amsterdam; the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem; the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen; the National Gallery, London; the Musée Fabre, Montpellier; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Cleveland Museum of Art.
 See Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum/Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Pride and Joy: Children’s Portraits in the Netherlands 1500-1700, 2000-2001, exh. cat. by Jan Baptist Bedaux and Rudi Ekkart, p.158.