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Still life of fruit and a pie on a table

The Royal Collection has a stunning collection of seventeenth century Dutch art

Melchior de Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-Amsterdam 1695)

Johan Ortt (1642-1701) on Horseback outside the Gate of Nijenrode Castle Signed and dated 1687

RCIN 405956

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Dating from the fourteenth century, Nijenrode Castle near Utrecht was rebuilt after the French invasion of 1672, by the Amsterdam merchant, Johan Ortt. Ortt became Lord of the Manor of Nijenrode in 1675. This is one of three depictions of the castle, its stud and its owner by de Hondecoeter (RCIN 405954–6).

In this scene, Ortt appears to be setting off on a hunt. He rides a Spanish horse while a groom holds a smaller mount fitted with a side-saddle, presumably for his wife; a servant in livery holds three greyhounds on a leash and a pair of beagles follow. The left background of this painting depicts a seventeenth-century formal garden lying outside the moat, with classical stone gateway, statuary and pyramidal topiary-cage. This seems to contradict the evidence of contemporary views which show a large building, possibly a stable block, immediately across the bridge from the castle.