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Deaf, Dumb & Brilliant: Johannes Thopas, Master Draughtsman

Deaf, Dumb & Brilliant: Johannes Thopas, Master Draughtsman


Until recently, the Dutch draughtsman Johannes Thopas, who was born in 1626 both deaf and dumb, was only known to a small group of connoisseurs, dealers and collectors. However, his remarkable, subtle and technically refined portrait drawings on parchment deserve a wider audience. This handsome publication, the first devoted to his work, will prove to be an eye opener for many art lovers.


Beginning with his earliest works (two beautiful miniatures of 1646 in the Fundation Custodia in Paris), Thopas produced incredibly refined drawings, usually with lead point on parchment. He had an almost magic control of the lead point, and his sense of texture and the way he was able to achieve this with minimal means in astounding, setting him apart from other draughtsmen in the Dutch Golden Age. Thopas was also able to capture brilliantly the characters of his sitters – such as the sulky husband and trouser-wearing wife in 1684 companion pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Apart from lead-point drawings, Thopas made several drawings in colour, on parchment and on Japanese paper. In most cases these drawings were done after life, although we do know that the large commision he received from the Bas-Kerckrinck family in Amsterdam included several drawings that were done after existing portraits. Furthermore, he produced at least one brilliant copy after a painting by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, Venus, Mars and Cupid, and even a painting, portraying a dead child. He must have made more paintings and certainly more drawings than the seventy we know today (all of which are catalogued and illustrated here). In this echibition his only known painting and the one mythological drawing and accompanied by thirty of his most beaitiful portraits, from private collections in the US, Canada, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, as well as well-known museums and print rooms, such as the Albertina in Vienna, the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, the Städel in Frankfurt and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Included in the book are Dutch and German translation of the essays.

  • By Rudolf E.O. Ekkart

    Paperback, 200 pages

    260 x 216 mm, 100 illustrations

    ISBN: 978 1 907372 67 4

  • Rudolf E.O. Ekkart

    The author of the catalogue, Prof. Dr Rudolf E.O. Ekkart, is regarded as the most important connoisseur in the field of Dutch sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portraiture and the author of many important monographs and other publications in the field of Dutch portraiture. He was Director of the Netherlands Instititute for Art History (RKD) in the Hague between 1990 and 2012 and gained fame as Chairman of the Committee that caried his name and proved responsible for the return of many looted works of art that were returned to the heirs of many Jewish collectors in the Netherlands.

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