This is how over centuries renowned art historians praised Lodewijk de Vadder, this enchanting and, for his time, revolutionary Brussels artist of the XVIIth century, altogether painter, draughtsman, engraver and tapestry designer. Little is known about Lodewijk de Vadder’s life. The only elaborate study on him and his work, to which abundant reference is made in this site, is the outstanding masters’ thesis Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) by Luc Geeroms, under the direction of Prof. Roger-Adolf D’Hulst, submitted in Dutch at the University of Ghent in 1985. This thesis, which was not published, is available for consultation at the library of the University of Gent (Universiteits Bibliotheek Gent, Sint-Hubertusstraat 8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, BIB.GTH.027922).
Also of interest are the contributions by Nagler (1913), Joos (1935), Laes (1949), Thiery (1953), de Callataÿ (1960), Thiéry & Kervyn de Meerendré (1987), De Maere & Wabbes (1994) and Kervyn de Meerendré (1995) and, as far as the few found tapestries are concerned, De Meûter (2012) (see Bibliography).
The little we know about Lodewijk de Vadder’s life can be summarized as follows:
He was the younger son of Gillis de Vadder and Marguerite Cocx. Place and date of birth are unknown.
Strangely and contrarily to most of his contemporaries, he produced almost no religious works and only a few large paintings of him are known. Likewise, very little, not to say anything, is known today about his activity as tapistries patterns designer.
If his fame has faded by time, he was renowned and admired during his lifetime and in the following years, as emphasized by Cornelis De Bie in 1661 and as evidenced by the tax privileges he received from the Brussels city authorities.
As was not unusual at the time, Lodewijk de Vadder also occasionally collaborated with other artists. So, he painted landscapes for a.o. Gaspard de Crayer, Antoon Sallaert or Michael Sweerts, and David Teniers painted the staffage of several of his paintings.
He might also have had an original collaboration with Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg (1630-1676), as he possibly painted himself, in van Ehrenberg’s Kunstkamer met « Candalaudes en Gyges » (CB 715) one of his own paintings (in the upper right corner), as did in the same painting Gonzales Coques, Jacob Jordaens and others.
There is no known portrait of Lodewijk de Vadder. So far we know, he himself made no self-portrait except possibly one, sketched on the reverse side of a drawing kept at The Courtauld Institute of Art, Witt-Collection in London (inv. D.1952.RX.1003 – CB 582). It represents a mature man’s head with curly hair under a large floppy hat, a bent nose, a slightly projected upper lip, marked mouth corner and a voluntary chin on a sturdy neck, looking deep in thoughts. A self-portrait?