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5.3.2 Cornelis Ketel

The second Pott auction also included two paintings which according to the catalogue were by the hand of Cornelis Ketel, namely a penitent Peter and a David who humbles himself. Von Holst identified these two works as rendered around 1584 for the Uphagen brothers, adding that they are still to have been in the hands of the family in 1617.1 Von Holst’s source was Het Schilderboeck by Karel van Mander, specifically Hans Floerke’s 1906 translation of the second edition of 1617.2

Although the identification is not necessarily incorrect, closer examination reveals that Van Holst’s data is not altogether reliable. The Schilderboeck does indeed mention works that Ketel rendered around 1584, but Van Mander calls the brothers Ophogen instead of Uphagen. In addition, Van Mander writes about two independent commissions. First Ketel made ‘a Paul with eyes raised, as large as life down to the knees, done after life of Rutger Jansz. for Hans Ophogen’ (een opsiende Paulus, soo groot als t'leven, tot aen de knien, naer t'leven van Rutger Iansz. gedaen voor Hans Ophogen).3 Van Mander then mentions:  For whose brother, Thomas Ophagen, he made the same once more, adding five other images, being: Peter lamenting his betrayal of Christ: the converted sinner Magdalen: the Publican; Saul falling on his sword: Judas hanging himself: which six pieces are still in Danzig, in the home of mentioned Thomas Ophoghen, and are very well handled and wonderfully painted in every aspect of art (Voor wiens broeder Thomas Ophogen hy de selve noch eens maeckte, met noch vijf beelden daer toe, te weten: Petrus beclaghende dat hy Christum versaeckt hadde: de bekeerde Sondersse Magdalena: de Publicaen: Saul vallende in zijn sweerdt: Iudas hem selven verhanghende: welcke ses stucks noch zijn tot Dantzick, ten huyse van den voorschreven Thomas Ophoghen, en zijn in allen deelen der Const seer wel ghehandelt, en heerlijck gheschildert).4

These two works cannot have been the single one made for Hans Ophogen, especially since Hans did not live in Danzig but in Amsterdam. A merchant by profession, he was living on the Fluwelen Burgwal in 1585. From 1592 until 1601 he was the landlord of the Hof van Holland in the Kalverstraat, where he lodged important guests of the city of Amsterdam.5 The two works were therefore done for Thomas Ophogen and were part of a series of six. Van Mander does not discuss a ‘David who humbles himself’, but this could have been an error on the part of whoever compiled the catalogue of the second, 1763 Pott auction. Finally, it is not certain that the two works were still in the possession of Thomas Ophogen/Uphagen in 1617, as Von Holst indicates. Van Mander died in 1606, and the text of the edition used by Floerke is identical on this point to that of the first edition of 1604. In addition, all we know about of Thomas Ophogen is that he was known to be a merchant, that he lived in Danzig, and that he was still alive on 3 March 1604.6 Nor is anything else known about these two works. Another painting by Ketel, which has The Suicide of Saul (I Sam. 31:1-5) as its subject and could have been part of the series of six, is currently in the museum in Kaunas (Latvia) [i].7  

Cornelis Ketel   , The suicide of Saul (I Samuel 31:1-5), c. 1584

Cornelis Ketel  
The suicide of Saul (I Samuel 31:1-5) c. 1584
oil paint / canvas, 118 x 110 cm
on the back :  Ce portrait a ete peint par pierre Paul Rubens, Ao 1585. / a apartenu au Duc Frederic de Mantones /.../ a moi / LG Konigs march / 1751.
Nacionalinis M.K. Ciurlionio dailés muziejus, Kaunas (Litouwen), nr. MŽ-1353


Von Holst 1934, p. 62.


Von Holst 1934, p. 60, n. 12.


Van Mander 1604, fol. 275 v.


Van Mander 1604, fol. 275 v.


See Van Mander/Miedema 1603/18-1994-1999, vol. 5, p. 131 and Rijkhoff 2008, p. 80. In Rijkhoff 2008 Hans Ophogen is mentioned as an owner of art.


Winkelman 1983, vol. 4, GS 184, p. 525. Ophogen is here mentioned in a bill of protest.


See the text of Gerson 1942/1983 as annotated by R. van Leeuwen above.

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