It all very nearly went wrong on 21 April 2012 when Jacob Schrieder’s Portrait of the Strick van Linschoten children (1733) went under the hammer at Eichelkraut Auktionshaus in Potsdam, for on the day it proved impossible to get through to the auction house by telephone! At the last minute we called a friend and colleague in Berlin who was luckily prepared to drive over to Potsdam and place a bid on behalf of the Linschoten Estate Trust (Stichting Landgoed Linschoten).
In late March the painting, which shows the five children of Johan Hendrik Strick van Linschoten (1687-1759) and his wife Johanna Antonia Bernard (1706-1740), had been ‘discovered’ on the Eichelkraut website by Laurens Schoemaker, Assistant Curator of Topography at the RKD in The Hague. Whereas the staff at Eichelkraut had no idea who the young sitters might be, Schoemaker immediately identified the setting as Linschoten House. He passed on his discovery in an email to Utrecht City Archives who in turn kindly brought it to the attention of the Linschoten Trust.
‘Is this something we ought to look into?’ came the question from the Trust the following day. ‘Absolutely!’ I emailed back. For I strongly felt that this unique family heirloom, which must have gone astray when the Strick family died out, should be returned to its original surroundings.
And so, in the second half of April, I travelled to the highly sympathetic auction house of Eichelkraut in Potsdam to assess the painting’s condition. The minute I saw it I felt enthusiastic. Not only because it turned out to be in such excellent condition, but also because the architectural ornaments in the painting and indeed the overall artistic quality seemed much higher than the photograph had suggested. It would be an exaggeration to call it a major work of art, but it most certainly adds something to the rich history of Linschoten, which is said to be the largest estate in Holland’s ‘green heart’.
Almost nothing is known about the painter Jacob Schrieder. At present only a handful of portraits by him are known. He must have made the painting of the Strick siblings for Johan Hendrik and his wife in 1733. The couple married in Utrecht on 25 March 1727. By 1733 they already had five children: Adriaan, born the year his parents were married, Daniel (1729), Josepha Christina (1730) and two more girls - Charlotte (1731) and Johanna (1733).
Schrieder’s portrait now hangs in Linschoten House (http://www.landgoedlinschoten.nl/). However there is a small historic incongruity: as one of the Trustees has rightly pointed out, this type of group portrait would in fact have been displayed in the Town Hall and not the family residence.