Remember of 14 great artists from the past

Pieter Brueghel was a painter and engraver. He was born in a small village in Holland near Breda. Van Mander, who has written a Brueghel-biography, doesn’t unfortunately mention any birthdate. People assume that he was born presumable about 1525.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525/30?-1569)

By his typical interest for realisme he distinguished himself highly from his Italianistic contemporaries. While his contemporaries were influenced by foreign masters, Brueghel was inspired by the peasants and the farmer’s life in which this people lived according to the rough laws. Besides he achieved a lot of moralistic scenes in paintings and in engravings.

Brueghel arrived in Antwerpen as a pupil of Pieter Coeck van Aelst. Soon he started to co-operate with the engraver and publisher Hieronymus Cock. In 1551 he joined the St. Lukasguild. In 1552 he travelled through Rome, Napels and the Strait of Messina, but he wasn’t interested in the famous monuments in contrast with his contemporaries. Brueghel had on the contrary just a special interest for Alpine views, which he ‘translated’ into drawings.

The situation changed soon because Brueghel became a great source of inspiration for his contemparies and got followers like Teniers and Brouwer. They were inspired by his moralistic paintings with reference to the peasants. These paintings are often provided with a satirical tone. Pieter Brueghel died eventually on 5 September 1969.

Egbert van Drielst

Groningen 1746 – Amsterdam 1818
Like many landscape artists of his days, Egbert van Drielst started his career in a studio where mural decoration was being made. The flourishing art of mural decoration fell into decay around 1780, but Van Drielst was very succesful in finding new employment: he developed into a draughtsman that got his inspiration mainly in nature. In this he made an important contribution to transform Dutch landscape art from its rococo origins into nineteenth century nature-realism. Van Drielst specialised in rather elaborative landscape drawings, which usually were quite fashionable in those days.

Anthonie van Dyck (1599-1641)

He was born in Antwerpen on the 22th March 1599. He has been a Flemish painter and etcher. He is with Rubens and Jordaens the most important representative of the Antwerp painterschool of the seventeenth century. Before he was twenty he had become Rubens’ most valued assistant. Anthonie van Dyck worked from 1617 or 1618 till 1620 with Rubens.

In 1620 he was employed by king Jacobus of England. He left soon and remained for a long time in Genua. In 1630 he became courtpainter of the Infante Isabella. At this time he painted a lot of altarpieces, which are more deep of colour then his early, Venetian influenced work. This is also in force for his doubleportraits, in easy style and with soft flew away modele’. The construction is free and graceful. Anthonie van Dyck himself etched a few portraits and Antwerp engravers executed a series of engravings after paintings and drawings of the master.

In 1632 Anthonie van Dyck became again painter at the English court, where he, with interruption in Flanders from 1634-1635 and 1640-1641, stayed till his death. In his portraits of this period the postures are vivid and graceful, the facial expressions displayed the closed, some haughty standingconsciousness of the English aristocracy .

Gerard van Groeningen

About Gerard van Groeningen hardly anything is known. He was a painter, drawer and probably engraver who worked in Antwerp in the second half of the sixteenth century. There are designes of his hand who were engraved aswell, if he did the actual engraving himself, is doubtful.

His signature has different forms, sometimes he signed his work ‘Gerr. Groningus Inventor’ or ‘G.P’ or just ‘Groenning inventor.

Some work of him is known, 16 drawings of the life of Maria, engraved by Jan Wierix, 10 drawings about the ‘ages of life’, with french and latin texts, who could be engraved by van Groeningen himself because of the ‘Inven. faciebat’.

Taking the works he left in consideration, it is possible to state that van Groeningen was a representative of the Dutch Romanism.

Pieter van der Heyden (Verheyden) (1530?- ?)

Pieter van der Heyden was probably born in 1530 (in Antwerpen?). He has been active as an engraver in Antwerp. In 1557 he joined a guild and worked from 1551 till 1572 by order of H. Cock and other publishers. Pieter van der Heyden has mostly worked to P. Brueghel and H. Bosch, but also to F. Floris, L. Lombard and other Dutch painters of history. His work contains also political caricatures, allegories, topographical pictures and portraits. As engraver of ornaments he displayed an intelligent and picturesque idea. The composition is grandiose and vivid, sometimes it can even be called elegant.

John Baptist Jackson (1701-1780)

John Baptist Jackson who was born in 1702 in England, has been active as a woodcutter. He was educated as a woodcutter under E. Kirkall. E. Kirkall has teached him the long neglected art of clair obscur. In 1626-31 Jackson has worked by order of J. M. Papillon in Paris and went, because he didn’t have enough work, in 1731 to Rome, from there he went to Venice, where he was employed by a publishing-firm.

He made his first colour-woodcut in 1738 public, which performs a descent from the Cross. He made this to a painting of Rembrandt which is now at the London National Gallery. Of Jackson appeared in 1745 a series of colour-woodcuts which were made to paintings of Titiaan, Tintoretto, Veronese and J. Bassano. He had also made a few woodcuts with the clair obscur technique to Parmigiano, a series of heroic landscape to Marco Ricci and a portrait of the English statesman and ambassador of the Danish court, Algernon Sidney. In 1746 he returned to England, which was the first supplier in England of wall-paper executed with the clair obscur technique.

In the same year there appeared a book of him in London with the title: An Essay on the Invention of Engraving and Painting in Chiaro Oscuro, as practised by Albrecht Durer, Hugo di Carpi etc., and the Applications of it to the making Paperhangings of Taste, Duration and Elegance. By Mr. Jackson of Battersea. Illustrated with Prints in proper colours. At this book it is the merit of Jackson that he pays attention to the clair obscur technique. John Baptist Jackson died probably in Newcastle-on Tyne in 1780.

Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891)

Jongkind was born in Holland at Lattrop in 1819. Jongkind was educated as a lawyer and worked at a notary’s office near Rotterdam. After the death of his father he started to work as a painter under A. Schelfhout. A. Schelfhout has been a very productive water-colourpainter. He has reached that Jongkind received money every month of king Wilhem II van Nassau-Oranje.

His meeting with Eugene Isabey in 1845 was important for Jongkind. During a conversation which they had, Isabey invited Jongkind to work at Paris at his workshop. Probably Isabey was interested in Jongkind because both used the same theme at their work. Both had a common predilection for water and everything around it. Jongkind remained there for ten years.

In 1852 he started to paint moonlightlandscapes and historical seabattles. During his stay in Holland in 1855-1860, he had a renewed meeting with the harbour of Rotterdam. His style became later, maybe he was influenced by the impressionists, more simplified. His colors which were very rich and warm, became later more bright, variegated and were executed in unmixed strokes.

In contrast with the impressionists he didn’t paint his oilpaintings in nature, only his drawings and water-colours were made outside. The water-colours served as examples for his paintings. He used them often later again when he got charges of people.

The composition was of great importance to him. He worked according the next principles; an empty foreground, strong lines which fall back, often caused by the working of perspective. Although he didn’t work in theory on the side of the impressionists, in practice he reached the same results. Jongkind can be placed between the naturalists because of his reproduction of everyday life.

In his last years he also painted genre-images (as follower of Boudin). Also he copied old paintings of Willem van de Velde. Although he didn’t make a lot of etches, he used the same themes as in the water-colours and oilpaintings.

William Pether (1731-1795)

William Pether was born in Carlisle in 1731. He was as well a portret-painter as a mezzotintengraver. He has been a pupil of Th. Frye. He died about 1795 at London.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)

Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian etcher, draughtsman and architect. He was applied to etch ancient ruins in Rome and elsewhere. He was born in Venice on the 4th October 1720. He was educated as an architect under his uncle Matteo Lucchesi. Next to it he had several other teachers: Valeriani brothers (theatre painters), Scalfurotto (architect) and Carlo Zucchi (copper engraver; where Piranesi learnt perspective).

In 1740 Piranesi left Venice for Rome and started to draw Roman architecture. He studied etching under Giuseppe Vasi, the engraver of one of the largest views of Rome, but Piranesi left his workshop because of an argument. He returned to Venice in 1743, where he would have worked at Tiepolo’s workshop. With the help of Giuseppe Wagner, a successful engraver and publisher of Venice, he returned to Rome, where he had a workshop on the Corso. In 1745 he made several drawings in Pola, Verona, Rimini and made his mark as a draughtsman. He had two sons and a daughter, all of whom helped him in his work and after his death carried on his publications in Rome and Paris. They were Francesco (born 1748 or 1756; died 1810), Pietro (who lived till after 1807) and Laura (born 1750).

He was knighted by the Pope in 1765, and regularly signed his plates Cavalier Piranesi sc. from this date onwards. Most of his life was passed in Rome, etching, writing, publishing, and directing a workshop in which the restoration and sale of antiques played a considerable part. He travelled for the purpose to make studies of buildings in Chiusi, Corneto, Cori and Tivoli. He ordered to dig up antiquities and drew what was left of the buildings. He also travelled to Herculaneum, Pompei and Paestum.

In the last years of his life he reproduced – together with is friend the architect Benedetto Moxi – both colums for emperor Trajanus and Antonius in Rome. His aim in his work was to glorify the great Roman architecture. Giovanni Battista Piranesi died two months after the papal imprimatur of his Paestaum series, and was buried in S. Maria Aventina, in November 1778.

Bartholomeus Spranger


Antwerp 1546 – Prague 1611
Spranger was a student of the Antwerp painters Jan Mandijn (1557-1559) and Cornelis van Dalem (1560-1564). After a short stay in France, he travelled to Italy in 1565, where he collaborated with the painting of the cupola of the S. Maria della Steccata in Parma, where he was influenced by Corregio and Parmigiano. In 1566 Spranger stayed in Rome, where he travelled in the circle of the Zuccari. Spranger gained somewhat of a reputation in Rome: for a while he was painter at the papal court.

His most important and most influential period started in 1575, when he was appointed court painter of the emperors Maximilian II and Rudolf II, first in Vienna, then in Prague. Spranger influenced the Netherlands mainly through engravings made after his inventions. At the end of the sixteenth century a mannerism inspired on his style flourished, especially in Haarlem and Utrecht.

Cornelis Troost


Amsterdam 1697 – Amsterdam 1750
Cornelis Troost is, together with Jacob de Wit, without a doubt the most important Dutch artist of the eighteenth century. According to his biographer Van Gool (1751) his fame was based on his wide diversity of subjects, his versatility of material, and a comical idea.

Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)

Paolo Veronese, an Italian painter, was born and trained in Verona. He went probably to Venice in 1551. Paolo Veronese became, after Tintoretto, the most important painter in Venice. His earliest work show influence of the mannerisme, but soon his style became more realistic, with a preference for monumentality and luxuriousness. He had special talents in the field of ceilingdecoration which possess a strong illusionistic and plastic strength.Gradually the decorative approach was replaced by a more elegant and harmonious style of coloristic beauty.

At the extensive work of Veronese the portraits take a separate place, although their psychological draught is certainly not very large. After 1570 his colouring and treatment of light become more warm and poetic, his interpretation sometimes more dramatic. The influence of Tintoretto is unmistakable present at his late religious work.

Lucas Vorsterman I (1595-1675)

The engraver Lucas Vorsterman I was born in Bommel (Gelderland) in 1595. His earliest print is dated in 1607. In 1617-18 he worked in Antwerpen at the workshop of Rubens. He became master in 1619-20 in Antwerp. He engraved from 1618 till 1621 a series of masterpieces to Rubens, which are dated in 1620 and 1621, one in 1623. In April 1622 he splitted with Rubens because of an argument.

He has also worked in England under service of the earls Thomas Arundel and Karls I from 1624 till 1630. Since then he was again active in Antwerpen, where he took a part at the achievement of Anthonie van Dyck’s ,,Iconography”, 14 engravings and 28 portraits.

Lucas Vorsterman I has next to it also engraved to the artists Ger. Segers, Adr. Brouwer, Corn. Schut, Nik. van der Horst and to the elder masters like Raffael, Holbein, Elsheimer, Pieter Brueghel and the engraver Hendrik Goltzius. Lucas Vorsterman I has worked from 1616 till 1666. His pupils were Paulus Pontius, Marinus and Jan Witdoeck. Lucas Vorsterman died eventually , according to contemporaries, blind in 1675.

David Pierre Giottino Humbert de Superville

The Hague 1770 – Leiden 1849
Humbert, son of a prominent French/Swiss family, got a classical education in the Hague. He probably learned the skills of painting in the studio of his father, who was first member, and later governor of the Hague painters society Pictura. Humbert also became a member of Pictura when he was eleven, and got a gold medal in 1788. In 1789 Humbert went to Rome, to diligently study and copy classical and Trecento art.

In the seccond half of the nineties Humbert chose the Republican side, and enlisted in the French republican army. When defeated by the papal troops he was imprisoned with several republican leaders in Civitavecchia.

In 1802 Humbert returned to the Netherlands, to start teaching at Leiden University in 1812. In 1825 he was appointed director of the Leyden Prentenkabinet (Printroom of Leiden University).
Because of his strict theoretical approach to at and his retired life Humbert takes a rather isolated place in nineteenth-century art. Allthought his work is of a high quality, his influence on other artists can’t have been very large. The fact that he never painted, but only drew, and never exhibited, definitely will have added to that.

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