As no dated works by Van der Lisse have come down to us, his stylistic development
cannot be sketched in detail. Possibly, as with his teacher Poelenburch, his style did not
undergo marked changes. All this makes dating the present work arduous if not
impossible. Given the finely balanced composition and the superb treatment of the
nudes our painting will not be a juvenile work, but more likely mature production.
Another clue in dating our painting is the distinct influence of Jan Both (1618-22-1652),
who had returned to Utrecht around 1642. Reminiscent of Both for instance is the clump
of trees closing off the scene at the left, especially the light playing on the tree trunks,
the hazy atmosphere in the distance and the waterfalls. All this seems to plead in favour
of a dating from the beginning of the 1640s onwards.
Dirck van der Lisse is arguably Cornelis van Poelenburch’s most gifted pupil. He was
born as the youngest son of Abraham Claesz van der Lisse.5 In 1625 he had his
testament drafted, possibly because he was planning to travel abroad. The following year, however, we find him in Utrecht, no doubt to train with Poelenburgh who had just
returned from Italy. In 1635 a group of artists, Van der Lisse among them, received a
prestigious commission from the court to paint a series of works to decorate a room of
Amalia van Solms in Palace Honselaarsdijk. In the second half of the 1630s Van der
Lisse divided his time between Utrecht and The Hague. In 1639 he married a noble
woman, Anna Petronella van der Houve, Lady of Campen, Geersdijke and Wissekerke.
In 1642 the family settled in Amsterdam. By 1644 Van der Lisse was back in The
Hague and here registered with the Guild of Saint Luke. Two years after his first wife
had died, Dirck married Maria Both. He was highly respected in artistic circles,
fulfilling leading positions within the guild, and from 1659 repeatedly served as a
burgomaster in The Hague. All this time, he continued to paint. He died a wealthy man
owning a collection of about 100 paintings.
1 A similar composition by Poelenburch of the same theme in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg shows Diana similarly seen on her back although the pose is not exactly the same, see: N. Sluijter-Seijffert, Cornelis van Poelenburch 1594/5-1667: the paintings, [Amsterdam] 2016, pp. 131, 331, no. 119, ill.
2 Especially from works Poelenburch made when he had just returned from Italy, as remarked by Albert Blankert, see: A. Blankert, Nederlandse 17e eeuwse italianiserende landschapschilders, exh. cat. Utrecht (Centraal Museum) 1965, p. 108.
3 A version by his own hand is even listed in Van der Lisse’s own estate. See: B. Broos, Liefde, list & lijden: historiestukken in het Mauritshuis, The Hague 1993, p. 198.
4 See: E.J. Sluijter, ‘Depiction of Mythological Themes’, in A. Blankert et al., Gods, saints and heroes: Dutch painting in the age of Rembrandt, exh. cat. Washington (National Gallery of Art), Detroit (Detroit Institute of Art) and Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum) 1980, p. 58. See also Sluijter’s discussion of these two themes in: E.J. Sluijter, ‘Over prestige, wedijver, erotiek en moraal: mythologie en naakt in de Hollandse schilderkunst van de 16de en 17de eeuw’, in: P. Schoon & S. Paarlberg (eds.), Griekse goden en helden in de tijd van Rubens en Rembrandt, exh. cat. Athens (National Pinakothek), Dordrecht (Dordrechts Museum) 2000-01, pp. 45-49.
5 For a detailed account of Van der Lisse’s life and career, see: E. Buijsen (ed.), Haagse schilders in de Gouden Eeuw: Het Hoogsteder Lexikon van alle schilders werkzaam in Den Haag 1600-1700, Zwolle 1998, pp. 194-199, 325.