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SIMON DU BOIS

May 2016. The time has come for a page on Du Bois.

Of Simon Du Bois, Horace Walpole states that when his elder brother, Edward, died in 1699, "Simon, left without society, began to work for Vande velde, and one day in a fit of generosity, offered to draw the portrait of his eldest daughter. This drew on a nearer acquaintance, and the old man married her, but died in a year, leaving her his money, and a fine collection of pictures, and naming his patron, Lord Somers, executor; he was buried May 26, 1708. His young widow married again, and dissipated the fortune and collection." Sara van de Velde was not actually the Younger's eldest daughter, but his third daughter and fourth child. The ODNB says Simon Du Bois was baptised on 26 July 1632; so he was 74 when he married Sara, then aged 35. Young ?

Of the several names that have been put forward in the past, as "assistants" in the van de Velde studio, such as Knyff, Sailmaker, Monamy, and others, none appear to be even remotely likely. The only painter positively named, before the loose conjectures since about 1850, as having actually worked "for Vande velde", is Simon Du Bois.

Whether Flemish or Dutch, Simon could clearly turn his hand to painting anything: "portraits, oil miniatures on copper, animals, landscapes, battle and history scenes, and copies of Italian Old Masters", as listed by Arianne Burnette. The only genre missing from this compilation is "marine", and nothing is more likely than it should be included. The Du Bois brothers could very well have been close helpers of the van de Velde family, and Simon in fact ended up as a family member. Ms Burnette deftly skates over the distinct possibility that the Du Bois brothers actually contributed to the van de Velde studio.

Below are the original DNB entries by Lionel Cust for Simon and Edward Du Bois. These details were revised by Arianne Burnette in the ODNB, 2004. She gives Simon's date of baptism in Antwerp as 26 July 1632, and his mother's name as Helena, daughter of Eland Gysbrechts Tromper. Arianne notes that he "died between 16 May, when a second codicil was added to his will of 7 May, and 20 May, when his will was proved". Simon's admission, that he avoided signing his pictures because he got more for them when they were left unsigned, rings a signal peal of bells. He was an avowed copyist; why not of van de Velde ?

Simon's last will and testament is of considerable interest, assuming anyone is interested in the first place. Extracts from the will seem to have been published by one G.Scharf, probably a C19th contributor to a periodical called Archaeologia or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity.

I happen to have transcribed this will myself, and am appending its two codicils herewith. The second one has Mrs van de Velde, soon to be a widow herself, hovering solicitously over the Du Bois deathbed, ensuring that as many of his leavings as possible are transferred to van de Velde hands.

Does the exceedingly curious item below mean that Simon had lent money to a Mary Defoe ? And who could she possibly have been ?

I give to my Loving Wife the Bonds of Mary Defoe of St
James's Westminster and the Money due thereupon

[First codicil]. I Simon du Bois of St Pauls Covent Garden Painter do make this codicil to be annexed to my Will made on or about the seventh day of this instant May I give to Mr Andreas Petrov one of my Executors to whom I think myself much obliged my print of Schalken where an Old woman has a candle in her hand and is feeding her Children and the frame belonging to it I give to my Loving Wife the (Bonds?) of Mary (Defoe?) of St James's Westminster and the Money due thereupon and all of my wearing apparell woollen and Linnen I give to my executor Mr Henry (Wagener?) five pounds for Mourning and also five pounds for Mourning to my Maid as my Wife shall direct. If any little goods or things not specified or mentioned in my will shall be found in my house after my decease I give the same to my wife whereas my wife has seven and twenty guineas and some small matters of silver money of her own And also a picture of her father's doing and a (?) of (De Heems?) doing and some other little pictures of that she shall have and retain all these to her own use I give her also the little silver spoons and Baby things which she brought with her to my house In witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seal this thirteenth day of May One thousand seven hundred and eight Also I give to my wife all my rings In witness hereof I have sett my hand and seal the same day and Year. Simon du Bois Wittnesses Will Wilson John Munn Timothy Bridges

16 May 1708

[Second codicil]. Whereas I have already made my last will and testament in which I have mentioned all the particular Legacies which I have and give to my Relations and friends and to my dear and Loving Wife Sarah du Bois Now with this I desire that over and above what I have bequeathed to her already that my Executors pay to my loving wife out of the sale of my pictures the sum of one hundred pounds (sterling?) witness my hand and seal Simon du Bois in presence of us William (Sale?) Timothy Bridges Magdalena van de Velde (Exist?) William (Parilli?)


"..... a scholarly myth can spread 'like a computer virus' until it becomes accepted historical fact."
Helen Morales, TLS, May 15, 2009, p 11

All truth passes through three stages. 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer

"Truth sits upon the lips of dying men"
Matthew Arnold. 1853. Debatable. We're all dying, but how many of us speak the truth?

WHAT is Truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer.
Where on earth does that come from ?


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