Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Du Bois, Simon

DU BOIS, SIMON (d. 1708), painter, was the youngest son of Hendrick Du Bois, and Helena Leonora Sieveri, his wife. He is stated to have been born at Antwerp, but it appears that in 1643 Hendrick Du Bois was a resident in Rotterdam, where he died in 1647, being described as a painter and dealer in works of art; so that it is doubtful whether Du Bois was of Flemish or Dutch origin. He seems to have visited Italy with his brother Edward, and commenced his career as a painter of small battle-pieces in the Italian fashion; but subsequently he received instruction from Wouvermans, and took to painting horses and cattle pictures. He gained a great reputation for his works in this style, and so nearly approached the manner of the great masters then in vogue, that he was able to sell many of his pictures as their works, excusing himself on the ground that, if he put his own name to them, their merit would never be recognised. He had a curious neat way of finishing his figures, which he also employed in portrait-painting; according to Vertue he was induced to turn his hand to this by the advice of a lady friend. He came to England in 1685, and was fortunate in securing the patronage and friendship of Lord-chancellor Somers, who sat to him for his portrait and paid him liberally. James Elsum [q. v.] wrote an epigram on this portrait of the lord chancellor. Du Bois lived in Covent Garden with his brother, and had plenty of practice, amassing considerable sums of money, which they hoarded together. Late in life, and after his brother's death, about 1707, he married Sarah, daughter of William Van de Velde the younger [q. v.], but only survived a year, dying in May 1708. In his will (P. C. C., Somerset House, 113, Barrett), among legacies to his wife and relations, he leaves to Lord Somers ‘my father's and mother's pictures drawn by Van Dyke, and my case of books and the books therein;’ and further to his wife ‘the copper-plates of my father and mother, and the prints printed from the same.’ These portraits by Vandyck (Smith, Catalogue, Nos. 821 and 723) were noted by Dr. Waagen (Treasures of Art in Great Britain, iv. 520) as being in the collection of the Earl of Hardwicke at Wimpole. They were finely engraved by Cornelis Visscher. Among the portraits painted by Du Bois in England were those of Archbishop Tenison, at Lambeth Palace; John Wilmot, earl of Rochester, at Knole Park; Lord Berkeley of Stratton; William Bentinck, earl of Portland (engraved in mezzotint by R. Williams, and in line by J. Houbraken); Adrian Beverland (engraved in mezzotint by I. Beckett); four portraits of Sir Richard Head, bart., his wife and family (unfortunately destroyed by the great fire at the Pantechnicon, Lowndes Square, London, in February 1874), and others. His widow remarried a Mr. Burgess. Vertue mentions various portraits of Du Bois himself. His elder brother, Edward Dubois (1622–1699?), was also a painter, though of inferior merit to his brother. He was a ‘history and landskip painter,’ according to Vertue, born at Antwerp, and ‘disciple to one Groenwegen, a landskip painter likewise.’ He travelled with his brother to Italy, and remained there eight years studying the antiques. He also worked some time in Paris, and on his way to Italy executed some works for Charles Emmanuel, duke of Savoy. He came to London and lived with his brother in Covent Garden, where he died at the age of 77. His name appears as publisher on Visscher's prints of the portraits of his parents mentioned above.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Vertue's MSS. (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 23068–75); Pilkington's Dict. of Painters; Obreen and Scheffer's Rotterdamsche Historienbladen; Guiffrey's Van Dyck; Chaloner Smith's Engraved British Mezzotint Portraits.]

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