Johann Boeckhorst

(Münster 1604 – Antwerp 1668)


Saint Ursula

Oil on canvas, 112 x 86 cm

Price on request


New York, Christe’s, 20.3.1981, lot 88 (as Cirlce of Van Diepenbeeck).


The present painting has only recently been rediscovered. It was not known in the art historical literature, nor had it ever been exhibited in public before. It is an important work by Johann Boeckhorst, created in his middle creative period.

In its formal language, the painting is related to other depictions of female saints, such as St. Helena (Antwerp) and St. Barbara (location unknown). The virtuoso rendering of the materiality is particularly impressive and is reminiscent of King David (Ghent/ Greenville), among others.

Johann Boeckhorst is one of the most successful successors of the famous Baroque painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthonis van Dyck. He came from an old Münster family. As the second of a total of twelve children, Johann Boeckhorst was born in Münster between 1603 and 1605. At first it seemed that he, like his other siblings, would enter ecclesiastical or political service. But he was the only one in his family to decide on an artistic career. In the middle of the Thirty Years‘ War, he moved to Antwerp. This city was then one of the centres of the Counter-Reformation and the most important and influential artists of the Baroque period were based there. In Antwerp, Johann Boeckhorst trained as a painter under a master unknown to us today. Very soon he was able to attain the Freimeisterschaft and became an employee of the important Rubens workshop. He maintained friendly contacts with famous painters of his time such as Frans Snyders, Anthonis van Dyck and Jan Wildens. He worked on the most important commissions of the time, such as the Entry of the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand in Antwerp, the so-called Pompa Introitus and the decoration of the hunting lodge Torre de la Parada near Madrid. He also created paintings and large picture cycles for the Antwerp art market, for churches and for wealthy citizens of the city. His success grew after the death of the great masters Rubens and Van Dyck. He succeeded them with other artists of his generation. He enjoyed an exemplary reputation especially as a painter of history paintings and portraits.