60 Birthday Essay His Honoring Il Irving Lavin Sixtieth

The Bentvueghels (Dutch for "Birds of a Feather") were a society of mostly Dutch and Flemish artists active in Rome from about 1620 to 1720. They are also known as the Schildersbent ("painters' clique").


The members, which included painters, etchers, sculptors and poets, all lived in different parts of the city (mostly the parishes of Santa Maria del Popolo and San Lorenzo in Lucina in the north of the city) and came together for social and intellectual reasons. The group was well known for its drunken, Bacchic initiation rituals (paid for by the initiate). These celebrations, sometimes lasting up to 24 hours, concluded with group marching to the church of Santa Costanza, known popularly at the time as the Temple of Bacchus. There they made libations to Bacchus before the porphyry sarcophagus of Constantina (now in the Vatican Museums), which was considered to be his tomb because of its Bacchic motifs. A list of its members may still be seen in one of this church's side chapels. This practice was finally banned by Pope Clement XI in 1720. Although predominantly made up of Flemish and Dutch artists, a few other members were admitted, including Joachim von Sandrart and Valentin de Boulogne.[1]

Despite the rowdy nature of these initiations, an intellectual quality was maintained. Joachim von Sandrart, for example, wrote in his 1675–1679 book, Teutsche Academie der edlen Bau-, Bild und Malereikünste (German Academy of the Noble Arts of Architecture, Sculpture and Painting), that his "baptism" included "reasoned discourses, undertaken by French and Italians, as well as by Germans and Netherlanders, each in his own tongue."[2] Also Cornelis de Bruijn wrote about the rituals he had to undergo in 1674 and made some engravings, which he published in 1698.[3]

The Bentvueghels and the Accademia di San Luca[edit]

The Bentvueghels were frequently at odds with Rome's Accademia di San Luca ("Academy of Saint Luke"), which had the purpose of elevating the work of "artists" above that of craftsman. For this reason, before setting off for Italy, artists would first try to become members in their local Guild of St. Luke so they would have papers to show on arrival. Travel to Italy became a rite of passage for young Dutch and Flemish artists after publication of Karel van Mander's Schilder-boeck in 1604. Often encompassing a difficult and in many cases dangerous journey, artists would spend years getting to Italy, using their artistic talents to pay their way. Many never made it all the way to Italy, and many never attempted the trip back once they got there.

On arrival, many artists were therefore fairly established thanks to their work experience done along the way. However, equally many were still young and unknown. What they all did have by the time they arrived in Rome, was an overwhelming feeling of self-confidence in their ability to live by their own work, and membership in the Accademia had little relevance for them.

Traditionally, the low-brow qualities of the Bentvueghel's activities have been emphasized over their intellectual and artistic pursuits. David Levine suggests instead that "academic art-pedagogy, with its emphasis on repetitive copying, might well have struck members of the Bent [the Bentvueghels] as a low, mechanical process in contrast to their truly humanistic approach."[4] Artists such as Pieter van Laer, however, belonged to both organisations.[5]

Known Members[edit]

The earliest-known publication listing the members is the book by Arnold Houbraken, an artist and engraver who never traveled to Italy, but who used the Bentvueghels membership list as a source for his book, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, in 1718. Whenever possible, he gives the nickname or bent of the painter in his biographical sketches.

The original members of the group were also depicted in a series of drawings made around 1620.[6] Among those appearing in the drawings are Cornelis van Poelenburch, Bartholomeus Breenbergh, Dirck van Baburen, Paulus Bor, Cornelis Schut and Simon Ardé.[7] Upon initiation, members were given aliases that were often classical gods and heroes, such as Bacchus, Cupid, Hector, Meleager, Cephalus, Pyramus, Orpheus, etc. Sometimes, however, the aliases were witty or semi-obscene in keeping with the general activities of the society.

Some of the members with known aliases or 'bent'-names:

See also[edit]

  • The Guild of Romanists was a Flemish club, containing many artists, for those who had visited Rome and settled in Antwerp.


  1. ^Bentvueghels in Joachim von Sandrart's "Teutsche Academie", 1682
  2. ^Levine (1990), p. 217
  3. ^Corneille le Brun, A Voyage to the Levant: or Travels in the Principal Parts of Asia Minor. In: Cornelis de Bruijn. Voyages from Rome to Jerusalem and from Moscow to Batavia (Catalogue of an exposition in the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, 1998)
  4. ^Levine (1990), p. 219
  5. ^Haskell, p. 20.
  6. ^The drawings are currently housed in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
  7. ^Levine (Grove)
  8. ^David Beck at the Netherlands Institute for Art History(in Dutch)
  9. ^Oud Holland, Volumes 84-85 (in Dutch)
  10. ^Pieter vander Hulst biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  11. ^Guilhelmo van Ingen in Houbraken's Schouburg
  12. ^Slive, p. 290; "according to Houbraken, he sniffed everywhere for strange creatures and plants".
  13. ^Augustinus Terwesten biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
  14. ^ abAbraham Genoels biography in Arnold Houbraken, De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 1718 (in Dutch)
  15. ^Kilian.
  16. ^This is a direct translation of his name into Italian.


  • Some of the information here is taken from the corresponding Dutch article about the Bentvueghels.
  • Haskell, Francis, Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy, Yale University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-300-02537-8
  • Kilian, Jennifer M., "Jan Baptist [Giovanni Battista] Weenix," Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [29 October 2007].
  • Levine, David A., "The Bentvueghels: 'Bande Académique"," in IL60: Essays Honoring Irving Lavin on his Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Marilyn Aronberg Lavin. New York: Italica Press, 1990 (pp. 207–219). ISBN 0-934977-18-6.
  • Levine, David A., "Schildersbent [Bent]," Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, [15 March 2007].
  • Slive, Seymour. Dutch Painting 1600–1800. Yale University Press Pelican history of Art. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-300-06418-7.
Anonymous, ca 1660, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam – Initiation of a Bentvueghel in Rome, where the new member receives his nickname or "Bent"
Bentvueghels in a Roman Tavern, by Pieter van Laer

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Irving Lavin's Bibliography and Publications Online


  •  [With Marilyn Aronberg Lavin] Liturgia d'amore. Immagini dal Canto dei Cantici nell'arte di Cimabue, Michelangelo, e Rembrandt, Modena, 1999
    • Revised edition in English: The Liturgy of Love: Images from the Song of Songs in the Art of Cimabue, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt, [The Franklyn D. Murphy Lectures XIV], Lawrence, KA, 2001

  •  Editor, Erwin Panofsky. Three Essays on Style, Cambridge, MA, and London, 1995
    • Italian translation: Erwin Panofsky. Tre saggi sullo stile. Il barocco, il cinema, la Rolls-Royce, Milan, 1996; Milan, 2011
    • Spanish translation: Erwin Panofsky. Sobre el estilo: Tres ensayos inéditos, Barcelona, 2000

Articles, Reviews, etc.

  1. Reprinted, slightly expanded, in English: “On the Unity of the Arts and the Early Baroque Opera House,” in Barbara Wisch and Susan Scott Munshower, eds., “All the world's a stage...” Art and Pageantry in the Renaissance and Baroque [Papers in Art History from the Pennsylvania State University, VI], University Park, PA, 1990, Part 2, 518-79 (PDF)
  1. Abbreviated in Perspecta. The Yale Architecture Journal, XXVI, 1990, 1-20
  1. Italian translation in Le immagini del SS.mo Salvatore. Fabbriche e sculture per l'Ospizio Apostolico dei Poveri Invalidi, exhib. cat., Rome, 1988, 229-57, and in Lavin, Bernini e il salvatore, 1998, 15-54
  1. Reprinted in History of European Ideas, IV, 1983, 365-420
  1. Reprinted in World Futures, XL, 1994, 13-25

  1. "Iconography," in Laura Corti and Marilyn Schmitt, eds., Automatic Processing of Art History Data and Documents. Pisa. Scuola Normale Superiore. September 24-27, 1984. Proceedings, Florence, 1985, 321-31 (PDF)

  1. "Donatello's Kanzeln in San Lorenzo und das Wiederaufleben frühchristlicher Gebräuche: ein Nachwort," in Monika Cämmerer, ed., Donatello - Studien, (Italienische Forschungen, Ser. 3, XVI), Munich, 1989, 155-69 (PDF)
  1. Reprinted in Matthias Winner, ed., Der Künstler über sich in seinem Werk. Internationales Symposium der Bibliotheca Hertziana Rom 1989, Weinheim, 1992, 161-90

  1. "A Fragment," in Paul Suttman. The Master-Pieces. 1981-1991, New York, 1991, 3 (PDF)

  1. "Fischer von Erlach, Tiepolo, and the Unity of the Visual Arts," in Henry A. Millon and Susan Scott Munshower, eds., An Architectural Progress in the Renaissance and Baroque. Sojourns In and Out of Italy. Essays in Architectural History Presented to Hellmut Hager on his Sixty-Sixth Birthday (Papers in Art History from the Pennsylvania State University, VIII), University Park, PA, 1992, Part 2, 498-525 (PDF)
  1. German translation in Barock. Regional-International. Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch Graz, XXVI, Graz, 1993, 251-74

  1. "Iconography as a Humanistic Discipline (Iconography at the Crossroads)," in Brendan Cassidy, ed., Iconography at the Crossroads. Papers from the Colloquium Sponsored by the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 23-24 March, 1990, Princeton, 1992, 33-42 (PDF)

  1. "Panofsky's History of Art," in From the Past to the Future through the Present. Conversations with Historians at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1992, 21-5

  1. "Panofskys Humor," in Erwin Panofsky, Die ideologischen Vorläufer des Rolls-Royce Kühlers & Stil und Medium im Film. Mit Beiträgen von Irving Lavin und William S. Heckscher, Frankfurt-New York, 1993, 9-15 (PDF)
  1. Reprinted in The Institute Letter, Spring 2010, 3

  1. "Why Baroque," in Lisa G. Corrin, ed., Going for Baroque. 18 Contemporary Artists Fascinated with the Baroque and Rococo, Baltimore, 1995, 5-8 (PDF)
  1. English version: “Bernini’s Image of the Ideal Christian Monarch,”in John W. O'Malley, et al., eds., The Jesuits: Cultures, the Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773, Toronto, 1999, 442-79 (PDF)
  1. Spanish translation in Figuras e imágenes del barroco. Estudios sobre el barroco español y sobre la obra de Alonso Cano, Madrid, 1999, 27-44

  1. "The Body Artist," in Joanna Frueh, et al., eds., Picturing the Modern Amazon, New York, 1999, 7-8 (PDF)

  1. "Bernini in San Pietro," in Antonio Pinelli, ed., La basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano, 4 vols., Modena, 2000, Saggi, 177-236 (PDF)
  1. Reprinted in Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Atti dei convegni lincei 170. Convegno internazionale La cultura letteraria italiana e l’identità europea [Roma, 6-8 aprile 2000], Rome, 2001, 245-84

  1. "‘Bozzetto Style’: The Renaissance Sculptor’s Handiwork," presented in Irving Lavin and Henry A. Millon, eds., Creativity: The Sketch in the Arts and Sciences, A Conference Sponsored Jointly by the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, May 23-25, 2001, unpublished (PDF)
  1. Revised and enlarged French version:“Les Filles d’Avignon de Théodore Aubanel et la ‘somme de destructions’de Picasso," in Picasso Cubiste, exhib. cat., Paris, 2007, 55-69 (PDF)
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