Johann Vander Hagen, Landscape and Marine Painter

(fl. 1720-1745)

Landscape and Marine Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

He was a native of the Hague, where he learned his art, and went to London and thence to Ireland in the early part of the eighteenth century. A small portrait of "Carolan, the Irish Bard," painted in 1720, is said to be his work. This portrait, on copper, 8 by 6 inches, was done for the Rev. Charles Massy, Dean of Limerick. It remained in the Massy family until the death of General Massy in Paris in 1780. Its history after that is uncertain until 1809, when it became the property of Walter Cox, the editor and publisher of the "Irish Magazine." In 1828 it was purchased by Edward O'Reilly, of Harold's Cross. On the 26th May, 1831, Edward Maguire, auctioneer, of 23 Suffolk Street, had an important sale, which included the "Book of Armagh" and a portrait of Carolan. The description of this portrait in the catalogue is signed "Edward O'Reilly, Harold's Cross, 16th March, 1829," and in it he gives the history of the portrait as stated above, and adds: "This is the only original picture of O'Carolan in existence; but there are two copies which Mr. Cox permitted to be made of it while in his possession. The first of these was made for, and at the request of, Lord Lismore, who wished to purchase the original from Mr. Cox, who was not then inclined to dispose of it. The other copy was made for Mr. James Hardiman in Dublin, who begged the permission of Mr. Cox as an especial favour. From this last copy an engraving was immediately made, of the same size as the original, by a person of the name of Martin, a Dublin artist, who published it with a dedication stating therein that it was drawn from an original picture in the possession of James Hardiman, Esq." (see article by Mr. W. Roberts in "Athenaeum," 6th June, 1908).

The subsequent history of the picture has not been traced; but in 1911 it was claimed to be in the possession of the late Myles G. O'Reilly, of 7 Denmark Terrace, Brighton. It is to be noted, however, that in 1829 Mulvany made a copy of the picture for a Myles O'Reilly. Of the two copies mentioned by Edward O'Reilly in Maguire's catalogue, Hardiman's was engraved by John Martyn in 1822, and also by J. Rogers in 1830. It is also stated that Hardiman's copy was not direct from the original but from a copy given by Cox to Thomas Finn of Carlow, which afterwards belonged to Sir Henry Marsh, and is perhaps the one formerly belonging to the late Judge O'Brien, and now the property of the O'Conor Don. It is not known where the copy made for Lord Lismore now is. In 1840 Edward Bunting published a small engraving which he said was "from the original." In the possession of the Rev. Mr. Carolan, of Tullyallen, Co. Meath, is an oil picture of the bard, signed V. H., recently (1913), purchased in a Dublin auction room. It differs from the engraving.

In 1728 Vander Hagen was employed by Robert Baillie to take "prospects" of the places to be represented in the tapestries which Baillie was commissioned to make for the House of Lords.* He appears to have been living in Dublin at that time, as the parish registers of St. Andrew's record the baptism on the 22nd May, 1730, of "John and Thomas sons of John Vanderhagen." He followed his profession as a painter in various parts of the country, especially in the south; and his works, landscapes, and particularly his sea-pieces, were much esteemed. But he was eccentric and indolent, and worked only when driven by necessity. "When pinched by his distresses," says Pasquin, "he would retire to a public-house and paint a picture to liquidate his reckoning." Several pictures by him are at Curraghmore, Co. Waterford, including a "Landing of King William III at Carrickfergus"—perhaps the design for one of Baillie's intended tapestries. A "View of Waterford," painted by him in 1736, hangs in the Town Hall in Waterford. Smith's "History of Waterford" mentions an altar-piece in St. Patrick's church in Waterford, and says that at Whitefieldstown, the seat of Thomas Christmas, near Waterford, were "some well-executed landscapes by the late Vander Egan." A "View of Powerscourt Waterfall" was engraved by John Brooks in 1745, and a "Sea-storm" was engraved by Watson. Pictures by Vander Hagen are mentioned in most of the catalogues of sales of old Dublin collections. Francis Johnston, the architect, possessed two "Landscapes with Figures" which were in his sale in 1845; a "Coast Scene, with Fishermen drawing a net" was in the collection of Thomas Berry of Dublin, and two sea-pieces, "A Shipwreck" and "A Brisk Gale" were in the collection of Henry Brocas, sold in 1869.

Vander Hagen also worked for the theatres. He painted for Smock Alley in 1733 the scenery for "Cephalus and Procris"—"finer painted," says "Faulkner's Journal," March, 1733, "than any ever seen in this Kingdom, done by the famous Mr. Vanderhagen."

Vander Hagen died probably in, or shortly before, 1745, as in an advertisement issued by John Brooks in April of that year, announcing the publication of the print of "The Waterfall at Powerscourt," the painter is mentioned as "the late ingenious Mr. Vander Egan."


* Robert Baillie, of Abbey Street, was appointed in 1716 Upholsterer to the Government by the Earl of Sunderland. In 1728-9, when the Houses of Parliament were in course of erection, he was commissioned to furnish tapestry for the walls of the House of Lords. On the 31st July, 1728, he entered into a bond for the making of six pieces of tapestry representing: 1st, "The Defence and Relief of Londonderry"; 2nd, "The Landing of King William and his Army at Carrickfergus"; 3rd, "The Battle of the Boyne"; 4th, "The Entry of King William into Dublin"; 5th, "The Battle of Aughrim," and 6th, "The Attacking of Cork and Kinsale by the Duke of Marlborough." Only two pieces, viz., "The Defence and Relief of Derry" and "The Battle of the Boyne," were however ordered, for which Baillie was paid £436 6s. 3d. These were set up in the House of Lords in September, 1733. As a compensation for the loss he sustained by not supplying the four other pieces the House of Lords presented Baillie with a gratuity of £200 (see "Handbook of the Irish Parliament Houses," by H. Goldsmith Whitton, 1891, and Gilbert's "History of Dublin," Vol. III, p. 79).

« — Vander Abraham | Contents and Search | John Vandermere »