Study of 14 Busts and Heads
Study of 14 Busts and Heads

Study of 14 Busts and Heads

Simon van der Does
The Hague 1652 – after 1718 Antwerp

A Modello of Fourteen Studies of Children’s Busts and Heads


Oil on canvas 45.6 x 54.4 cm


Inscribed on the stretcher with pencil: “Jacob van der Does”


The Netherlands, private collection

This rare modello of heads and busts of children offers a fascinating peek into the studio practice of Simon van der Does, a painter of pastoral scenes set in Italianate landscapes. Models such as the present constituted precious studio assets and artists used them in preparation of finished works for the market or for particular clients. Although evidence suggests they were valued from early on for their intrinsic artistic merits as well, few have survived. Similar attractive oil studies of isolated, worked-out motifs are known by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Boel and by artists working in the

Northern Netherlands, notably Nicolaes Berchem. The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum’s recent acquisition of an oil study with chickens by Melchior de Hondecoeter shows a renewed interest and appreciation for this type of art. Several children’s heads on our canvas appear in several independent paintings by Simon van der Does (figs. 1-4). Van der Does’ oil study stands out for its crisp handling and captivating charm.

Simon van der Does was a son of the artist Jacob van der Does the Elder (1623-1673) and the brother of Jacob van der Does the Younger (1654-1699), also an artist. Simon no doubt trained with his father and like him specialized in Italianate landscapes enlivened with figures but he also painted portraits. He spent some time in Friesland and tried his luck in London before returning to his native The Hague. Here, in 1683, he became a member of the painters’ confraternity Pictura and in 1689 married Clara Bellechière who, according to his biographer Arnold Houbraken, was ‘extremely wasteful’. As a result Simon’s financial situation deteriorated and he ended up living in the infirmary. After several years he left for Antwerp where he died sometime after 1718.

Fig. 1 - Simon van der Does
Italianate landscape with Two Children and Cattle (detail)
Oil on canvas 42.5 x 37.5 cm
Sale Vienna (Christie’s), 29 October 1996, lot 57

Fig. 2 - Simon van der Does
Landscape with Two Children and Goats, Sheep and Dogs (detail)
Oil on panel 24.5 x 28 cm
Sale Zürich (Koller), 19 March 1997, lot 58

Fig. 3 - Simon van der Does
Shepherdess and Sheep near a Ruin in a Mountainous Landscape (detail)
Oil on canvas 123 x 87.5 cm. Signed and dated 1709
Sale Amsterdam (Sotheby’s), 19 November 1996, lot 56

Fig. 4 - Simon van der Does
Southern Landscape with Two Shepherds and Cattle (detail)
Oil on canvas 66 x 79.7 cm. Signed and remains of a date
Sale London (Phillips Son & Neale), 7 July 1998, lot 70

i Inv. SK-A-5023. On this acquisition see: L. Wepler in ‘Acquisitions’, The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 63 (2015), pp. 96-97.