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Abstract

A painting of a pastoral couple making music was sold at an auction in 1975 under the name of Abraham Bloemaert. The unsigned work should however be attributed to Aelbert Jansz. van dcr Schoor. Active in Utrecht, this painter specialized in portraits, figures, fish still lifes and Vanitas pieces. Although nothing is known of his early years or tuition, he was undoubtedly trained as a painter in Utrecht, possibly under Abraham Bloemaert, with whose work his own has much in common. His earliest dated paintings were done in the early 1640s. Most of them arc portraits, although a few interiors of this period are also known. As a genre and history painter Van der Schoor was much inspired by Jan van Bijlert and slightly less by Gerard van Honthorst, as well as by Abraham Bloemaert. His pictures, usually of musicians, but also the occasional history piece, such as Christ at Evimaus, are characterized by a clear and vivid use of colour, the monumental, plastic figures and the recurring, distinctive types of figure. Van der Schoor's portraits have a very sober, somewhat old-fashioned air. Here, too, he was influenced by better-known Utrecht painters like Jan van Bijlert and Hendrick Bloemaert. No stylistic development can be observed in his corpus of portraits, but this is perhaps because he was only active as a portraitist for a very brief period. He is unlikely to have painted any portraits after 1651. Instead, he concentrated on fish still lifes and Vanitas representations. He did however continue to paint figure pieces. Not surprisingly, Aelbert van der Schoor modelled his fish still lifes on examples by fellow-painters in Utrecht, Jan de Bont and Willem Ormea, for instance. His few surviving Vanitas pieces are more original, the undeniable highlight of this genre being the Vanitas in the Rijksmuseum, in which a skull is painted from six different angles. Aelbert van der Schoor's oeuvre currently comprises thirty paintings, but his output was surely larger. The fact that some of the paintings presently attributed to him were previously regarded as the work of Theodor Rombouts, Dirck van Baburen, Abraham Bloemaert or Jan Gerritz van Bronchorst, suggests that fresh additions will be made to his oeuvre within due course. The same must certainly apply to his drawings. Hitherto only one has been attributed to him, a sheet of figure studies drawn in preparation for the aforementioned pastoral couple. It demonstrates that in conceiving this very early painting Aelbert van der Schoor employed the method of the nestor of Utrecht painting, Abraham Bloemaert. It would therefore not come as a surprise if we should learn that Bloemaert was Aelbert van der Schoor's teacher.

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