Continuing with our weeklong look at artist Simon de Vlieger, (born 1601), we see here one of his pen, ink and wash drawings of Brederode Castle.
The castle, also called the Ruins of Brederode, can be found in Santpoort-Zuid. The castle was built sometime in the second half of the 13th Century by William I van Brederode (1215-1285), a descendant of the lords of van Teylingen. The castle was part of the estates given to the Brederode family by the count of Holland.
Brederode means broad wood, and references the woodland that was cleared away to build the castle. The castle was initially little more than a tower, but Dirk II van Brederode had the tower pulled down in 1300 and built a proper castle in its place.
That Brederode is in ruins is no surprise. During the 1426 siege of Haarlem, the southern part of the castle was destroyed. In 1492, the castle was plundered by German soldiers. In 1573, Lancelot van Brederode was beheaded by Spanish soldiers, and the castle was set afire.
In 1679, Wofert van Brederode, last of the Brederode, died, and the ruins became the property of the Dutch Republic. In the 19th Century the ruins were one of the first buildings to be restored by the government, becoming the first national monument in the Netherlands.
While this is not a finished drawing, de Vlieger manages to suggest the sense of ruin that pervades the place. The grand towers of the castle loom in the distance, with the simpler village walls and houses in the foreground. It’s unlikely that de Vlieger is making some kind of statement in this sketch, but, rather, that he planned to use it for a more finished work.
De Vlieger manages light and shade with a simple gray wash. However, he manages to etch more concrete details with a fine pen, suggesting the movement of scrub in the foreground, and the shaggy quality of hay on the cottage roof.
Just a moment to reflect on the importance of sketching: artists think with their hands, as well as with their brains and their optic nerves. To make a sketch to reference for future work is one of the core methods of an artist, and it can teach us a great deal about how they think.
Clearly, de Vlieger thought in terms of light and shade, value and tone. There are a few clearly delineated details, but the focus is on composition and light. These values would provide the key for his finished, and highly polished, paintings.
More de Vlieger tomorrow!
Brederode Castle Today