Coauthor of lexicon of artists, Geschiedenis der vaderlandse schilderkunst, sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw. Van Eynden was trained as a painter, but never worked professionally. He published a treatise on drawing and painting of the Dutch school, the Nationalen smaak der Hollandsche school in de teken- en schilderkunst in 1787. He was a member of Pictura, a drawing society based in Dordrecht. He met Adriaan van der Willigen (1766-1841) in 1814 when the latter published a request in the Algemeene konst- en letterbode for research assistance in a major project: a history of artists living in the Netherlands from the middle of the eighteenth century to his time. Van Eynden was among those who reponded and subsequently became the coauthor of the project. Both Van Eynden and Van der Willigen were involved in Dutch cultural life, and were members of the Koninklijk Nederlandsch Instituut. Their work, the Geschiedenis der vaderlandse schilderkunst, sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw, a four-volume history with engraved illustrations, is conceived as a sequel to earlier artists' biographies such as those written by Karel Van Mander, Arnold Houbraken and Johan Van Gool. The Geschiedenis goes back to the sixteenth century and includes sculptors, engravers, and architects as well as painters. Van Eynden provided most of the content of the first volume, which appeared in 1816, setting in chronological order artists not mentioned in previous artists' biographies. The second volume, 1817, addressed the lives of painters already mentioned in Van Gool's 1750-51 Nieuwe Schouburg, continuing with artists born after that date. Volume two was largely written by Van der Willigen as Van Eynden was already in poor health. He died in 1819. Van der Willigen went on to complete a third volume (1820) of biographies of contemporary artists, and information on art collections, cabinets, art schools, academies, exhibitions etc., and a fourth, 1840, as an appendix. The Geschiedenis provides information on more than 1500 artists and art collectors. The authors deliberately refrained from writing slanderous anecdotes, characteristic of earlier artists' biographies. Van Eynden and Van der Willigen had access to excellent libraries; they searched archives and gathered information firsthand. They primarily focused on the Dutch school, but, when, in 1815, the southern Netherlands were united with the northern Netherlands under King Willem I, Flemish artists were also added. A 1997 index (Register) by Ton Geerts was added, making the book still a useful reference work on the history of Netherlandish art.
van Eynden, Roeland
and Van der Willigen, Adriaan. Geschiedenis der vaderlandse schilderkunst, sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw. 4 vols. Haarlem: A. Loosjes Pz., 1816-1840.
Geerts, Ton. Register op Roeland van Eynden en Adriaan van der Willigen - Geschiedenis der vaderlandsche schilderkunst sedert de helft der XVIII eeuw . Leiden: Primavera pers, 1997; Hoogenboom, Annemieke. De stand des kunstenaars. De positie van kunstschilders in Nederland in de eerste helft van de negentiende eeuw. Leiden: Primavera Pers, 1993, pp. 51-72.