Abraham Genoels

Abraham Genoels II
Born 25 May 1640, Antwerp
Died 10 May 1723, Antwerp
Known for Painting
Movement Baroque

Abraham Genoels II or Abraham Genouil (nickname: Archimedes) (1640, Antwerp –1723, Antwerp) was a Flemish Baroque painter, draughtsman and engraver now mainly known for his landscape drawings and etchings. He had an international career that saw him work in Paris, Rome and Antwerp.[1]


In his compilation of artist biographies called the Schouwburg, the early Dutch biographer Arnold Houbraken devoted a lengthy entry of 10 pages to Genoels. Houbraken described Genoels as a good portrait and landscape painter who was taught drawing by Jacob Backereel in Antwerp and Perspective by Nicolaes Fierlants in Den Bosch.[2] In 1659 he travelled with Georg Remees to Amsterdam in order to go to Paris (wars prevented them from travelling south over land). While waiting for a boat to Paris, he made a tour of all the kunst kabinetten, or art cabinets.[2] Upon arrival in Paris (via Dieppe), he lived at the home of his cousin Laurentius Francken, where he met Francisque Millet. Millet, 17 and an art student at the time, lived there also and Genoels taught him perspective. Genoels soon received a commission for tapestry designs from Gi. de la Noire Tapissier. A series of other commissions soon followed and he was admitted to the Académie Royale in Paris in 1665 by Charles le Brun.[3] The engraver Gérard Audran helped him learn engraving while they were both working for Le Brun.

He worked for the Gobelins Manufactory and various leading gentlemen of Paris including François Michel Le Tellier and Louis, Grand Condé (for his Château de Chantilly), before returning to Flanders in 1669.[3] He was accompanied on this journey as far as Amiens by the Flemish painters Jan van Huchtenburg and Adriaen Frans Boudewyns.[2][3] He wanted to travel further, and had plans to travel to Italy with a group leaving from Liège, but this fell through because Bertholet Flemalle, who would join him as far as Liège, missed him by a day when he came to Brussels to make sketches of the Castle of Marimont there for the King's tapestry that he was working on.[2]

Travel to Italy

Landscape with Diana hunting

His desire to visit Rome was fulfilled in 1674 when he had earned enough money to finance this undertaking in a comfortable way. He set off with a group led by Marselis Liberechts, who had already been there and back. The other members of the group included Pieter Verbrugghen II (sculptor), Frans Moens of Middelburg, and a Canon of Liège. Further Albert Clouwet (engraver from Antwerp), Abraham van den Heuvel (merchant of Naples), and Soldanio (merchant of Venice).[2] They left Antwerp in September 1674 for Cologne, and after 4–5 days took a boat down the Rhine to Mainz, and from there a market ship along the Rhine to Frankfurt. After a stay of 3 days they took a coach to Augsburg, and from there by horse towards Tirol, passing through Innsbruck, and over the Brenner Pass to Trento. From there they descended out of the Alps along the Brenta to Treviso, and from there went by boat to Venice. They then traveled by boat along the Po to Ferrara, and then went onwards to Bologna. After 4 days they took a horse and wagon to various small cities along the way and finally arrived in Rome.[2] He became a member of the Bentvueghels with the nickname Archimedes.[2] This name was given him because Abraham Genoels was also a mathematician and a physicist.[4] His companion Pieter Verbrugghen was named Ballon, and Frans Moens was named De Vlucht. Genoels sent Houbraken a copy of his "Bentbrief" which was signed by the witnesses to his membership ceremony.[2]

Bentbrief signatures[2]

He worked in Rome together with the Dutch painter Caspar van Wittel and may even have been his teacher.[5]

Return trip

A rocky landscape

In 1682 he undertook his return homewards to Antwerp. He rolled his paintings up and placed them inside clay models of antiquities and shipped these ahead. Then along with the engraver Laviron of Antwerp, and two French engravers Cavalier and Monier, he left on 25 April 1682 and travelled over Siena, Florence, Pisa, Livorno, Genoa, Nice, to Marseille, and then by mule to Avignon, and then up the Rhône to Lyons, and then up the Saône to Villefranche-sur-Saône. From there by horse over the route de Tarare over the mountains to Roanne on the Loire, and from there by boat to Orléans, and from there to Paris, where he stayed to await his shipment and see old friends.[2] When his ship came in he made a present of a painting to Charles le Brun, and a much larger one to Colbert.[2] After that he left by carriage to Lille, and from there to Tournai and Ghent, arriving on 8 December 1682 in Antwerp, where he still lived when he was in correspondence with Houbraken.[2] He became a member of the Guild of St. Luke there.

He had the following pupils: Peeter Beethoven (1689–1690); Gillis Bisschop (1692–1693) and Ferdinandus Goffine (1694–1695).[3] Genoels was very successful and died a rich man.[1]


Study of a tree

In his lifetime, the paintings of Genoels were very highly regarded but his reputation dwindled after the eighteenth century.[6] This may be the reason why so few of his major works have survived. The surviving paintings are classically structured landscapes with mythological scenes that are based on works of Nicolas Poussin.

His landscape drawings and etchings are still highly regarded. The well-structured compositions often depict Italianate architecture and small, sketchy figures set in a rich landscape. The drawings show determination and fluidity.[1]


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