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Herman van Brussel (1763-1815) carried on his art as a painter of wall decorations in his native town of Haarlem until about 1810. Thereafter, he moved to Utrecht, where he remained until his death in 1815. Nowadays, Van Brüssel is no longer remembered as a painter of easel pictures, but many of his landscape drawings have survived. In the provincial archives at Haarlem, there is a large collection of views in and around the city. Although their execution was probably easy, emphasis has never been laid on his figures. On the basis of its monogram, a portrait of a painter sitting in front of his easel and now in the possession of Professor Julius Held, of New York, is here identified as Van BrussePs work and the sitter as a coeval colleague of his, F. A. Milatz. In addition, Milatz apparently appears in the group portrait by W. Hendriks, the property of Mr. A. Staring, in which some of the figures need to be more correctly identified. In our knowledge of group portraits by Van Brüssel, we are less fortunate. One simular to the painting Hendriks had done in 1799 was unfinished at the time of his death and the large preparatory coloured drawing which had been completed by that time has not been traced. Only a small sketch of a private academy done in earlier years, betraying a knowledge of an etching of a similar subject by Vinkeles from 1768, and some studies of single figures show that Van Brussel would have been capable of tackling the ambitious task that he had set himself but which he was never able to finish.
Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (NKJ) / Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art © 1970 Brill