Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hondius, Abraham

HONDIUS (DE HONDT), ABRAHAM (1638?–1691), painter, was born in Rotterdam in 1638. He may possibly be the Abraham, son of Isaack Maertens, who was baptised there on 9 Jan. 1639. Early in life Hondius displayed varied artistic abilities. He painted conflagrations, such as ‘The Destruction of Troy;’ night scenes, such as ‘The Nocturnal Carnival Scene at Rome,’ 1660 (in the Schwerin gallery); sacred subjects, such as ‘Christ as the Gardener,’ 1662 (in the Oldenburg gallery); and two conversation-pieces in the style of Palamedes, 1668 (in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg). Hondius gained his chief distinction as a painter of animals, especially of dogs, and painted numerous hunting and sporting scenes with a firm pencilling and good colour. These are highly valued. Hondius has been called a ‘Snyders in miniature,’ though there is little resemblance in their style. Good examples of his hunting-pieces are in the galleries at Dresden, Schwerin, Rotterdam, the Hermitage at St. Petersburg, and elsewhere. Some are also in private collections in England. Hondius came to England about 1665, and resided there till his death in London in 1691. According to Vertue he lived in Ludgate Hill, but died of a fit of the gout at the Blackamoor's Head over against Water Lane, Fleet Street, in 1695. He mentions a picture of a dog-market containing thirty different kinds of dogs, and states that Hondius was a man of humour and irregular life. Hondius appears to have had a wife, Geertruyt Willems, and a son, Isaack, who also became a painter. A set of etchings of animals, executed in 1672, and a few others by Hondius, are highly prized by collectors. He painted his own portrait, which was engraved in mezzotint by John Smith.

[Walpole's Anecd. of Painting, ed. Wornum; Immerzeel's Leven der Hollandsche Schilders, &c.; Scheffer and Obreen's Rotterdamsche Historienbladen, iii. 611; Woltmann and Woermann's Geschichte der Malerei; Houbraken's Grosse Schouburgh, ed. Wurzbach; Seguier's Dict. of Painters; Catalogues of the galleries at Dresden, Schwerin, &c.]

L. C.