Jacob Knyff: 1638-1681


42 x 69, attributed to Jacob Knyff, see Cockett, Early Sea Painters, 1995, p.43
Sotheby's July 1986, lot 11. Possibly the same painting sold by Sotheby's in 1979.


41½ x 68¼. Attributed to Sailmaker. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
From the photograph the above version to me suggests Jacob Knyff's authorship

7th May 2003. An approach via the internet in connection with Knyff has stimulated a slightly deeper consideration of the oeuvre of this painter. Cockett's chapter on Knyff in Early Sea Painters contains a list of 37 paintings, some colour illustrations and a short sketch of his life and background. As will be apparent from the rest of the pages on this site, my belief is that the origins of English art, especially the "prospect", are to be sought at the grass-roots of the painting trade, and therefore, of those Dutch painters who worked and died in England, Jacob Knyff and Isaac Sailmaker are ultimately of as much significance as the van de Veldes. Leonard Knyff was Jacob Knyff's brother, according to Cockett, and it is beginning to be possible to sense some connection between Monamy and the Knyff family members. Anyone disparaged by Horace Walpole merits serious attention. See here.

Below are two of what Cockett calls Knyff's "later, small cabinet pictures". Since he also calls Monamy's Waterman's Hall painting, dimensions variously given as 33 x 42 or 35 x 44, "this little picture", one may wonder what he would call a picture of, say, size 12 x 18. But the point is unimportant. What is of more interest is the suggestion that for about the last five years before his death in 1681 Jacob Knyff appears to have been seeking a wider, more general market for his easel paintings. As remarked on other pages, the years 1674-1676 were a critical period in English politics, and the time when the true characters of Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York, later James II, were becoming clear to the politically interested public, which included people like Andrew Marvell and Pierre Monamy. See here. If there ever was any link between the van de Velde workshop and painters like Knyff and Sailmaker, then 1675 would be the time for them to disassociate themselves, and align with the pro-William, anti-Stuart Opposition. Art is almost always involved in politics in some way, since artists will nearly always have their own intensely personal view of the world and its values, besides their necessary indebtedness to their paymasters. However, there seems to be a fairly clear stylistic relationship between the paintings by van de Velde and Knyff, below. The 1696 date for van de Velde's painting of an event in 1672 is curious. The van de Velde portrayal of the Cleveland yacht is dated 1678, three years before Jacob Knyff's death.


jacob knyff; 18 x 30; cockett p.46


van de velde, dated 1696 [?]: royal visit to the fleet, 6 june 1672
another date given for this painting is 1674, which is no doubt correct
the 1696 (?) date is suggested by Russell, Willem van de Velde de Jonge, p.21


attributed to jacob knyff; 33 x 49


jacob knyff; 18 x 28


van de velde, dated 1678: the cleveland yacht

the van de velde studio
portchester ?       sheerness ?
isaac sailmaker
more oddities
monamy website index
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