Pieter van Laer
Pieter van Laer (or Pieter Bodding van Laer) (christened 14 December 1599, Haarlem – c. 1642, Haarlem) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre scenes, active for over a decade in Rome, where his nickname was Il Bamboccio. Artists working in his style became known as the Bamboccianti.
He was born in Haarlem as the second child of Jacob Claesz Bodding and Magdalena Heyns. He came from a well to do family and his parents operated a private school in Haarlem started by Magdalena's father, the well-known writer and publisher Peeter Heyns, after whom Pieter van Laer was named. His older brother was Roedolff van Laer, who later also would become a painter and was known as Roeland van Laer or Orlando van Laer. His youngest brother was Nicolaes Bodding, later on in life known as Nicolaes Boddingius, a schoolmaster and minister. He traveled to Rome in 1625 where he became a member of the Bentvueghels, a society of mostly Dutch-speaking artists in Rome known for their anti-academic stance and initiation rituals. Among the other artists who worked with or under van Laer, one can include John Phillip Lemke. He had a successful career in Rome. On his return to Holland c. 1639, he lived chiefly in Amsterdam and later in Haarlem where he died around 1642.
The influence of a long stay in Rome is seen in his treatment of landscape and backgrounds, but in his subjects he remained true to the Dutch tradition, choosing generally lively scenes from peasant life. He painted markets, feasts, bowling scenes, farriers' shops, robbers, hunting scenes and peasants with cattle. From this taste, or from his personal deformity, he was nicknamed Il Bamboccio by the Italians. His pictures are marked by skillful composition and good drawing; he was especially careful in perspective. His colouring, according to Crowe, is "generally of a warm, brownish tone, sometimes very clear, but often heavy, and his execution broad and spirited." Certain etched plates are also attributed to him.
While his style of painting was openly disdained by pre-eminent Italian painters in Rome and Bologna, such as Sacchi, Albani, and Reni, this did not translate into a poverty of commissions. In fact, van Laer paintings over time became highly sought after. Initially, the painter must have depended on an open market and dealers, rather than commissions for sales. However, within a decade of work in Rome, he could ask a very respectable price for his paintings. Among those owning his work were Pietro Testa, Cassiano dal Pozzo, the marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, and later, the Flemish merchant in Naples Gaspar Roomer. Van Laer was to dedicate a series of engravings to Don Ferdinando Afan de Ribera, the Spanish Viceroy in Naples (Haskell 135-6).
Landscape with Morra Players, Oil on panel, Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest)
J.R. Hobbes p. 132.
Haskell, Francis (1993). "Chapter 8". Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy. 1980. Yale University Press. pp. 135–136.
Hobbes, James R. (1849). Picture collector's manual; Dictionary of Painters. T. & W. Boone, 29 Bond Street, London; Digitized by Googlebooks (2006) from Oxford library. p. 252.
Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Mario Giuseppe Genesi, "Per una decodifica dei dettagli magico-musicali nella Scena magica con autoritratto di Pieter Bodding van Laer [Decoding the magic and music details in the Magic Scene with Self-Portrait by Pieter Bodding van Laer]"; in "Music in Art", New York, 2005.
Works at WGA
Works by Pieter van Laer at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Website with ancestry of Pieter van Laer and descendents of his brother Nicolaes Boddingius
Vermeer and The Delft School, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Pieter van Laer