Sunday, August 26, 2007

Martin van Heemskerck (1498-1574)

Sierra Club


Dutch painter, sometimes called Van Veen, was born at Heemskerk in Holland in 1498, and apprenticed by his father, a small farmer, to Cornelisz Willemsz, a painter at Haarlem. Recalled after a time to the paternal homestead and put to the plough or the milking of cows, young Heemskerk took the first opportunity that offered to run away, and demonstrated his wish to leave home for ever by walking in a single day the 50 miles which separate his native hamlet from the town of Delft. There he studied under a local master whom he soon deserted for John Schoreel of Haarlem. At Haarlem he formed what is known as his first manner, which is but a quaint and gauche imitation of the florid style brought from Italy by Mabuse and others, He then started on a wandering tour, during which he visited the whole of northern and central Italy, stopping at Rome, where he had letters for a cardinal. It is evidence of the facility with which he acquired the rapid execution of a scene-painter that he was selected to co-operate with Antonio da San Gallo, Battista Franco and Francesco Salviati to decorate the triumphal arches erected at Rome in April 1536 in honour of Charles V. Vasari, who saw the battle-pieces which Heemskerk then produced, says they were well composed and boldly executed. On his return to the Netherlands he settled at Haarlem, where he soon (1540) became president of his gild, married twice, and secured a large and lucrative practice. In 1572 he left Haarlern for Amsterdam, to avoid the siege which the Spaniards laid to the place, and there he made a will which has been preserved, and shows that he had lived long enough and prosperously enough to make a fortune. At his death, which took place on the 1st of October 1574, he left money and land in trust to the orphanage of Haarlem, with interest to be paid yearly to any cotiple who should be willing to perform the marriage ceremony on the slab of his tomb in the cathedral of Haarlem. It was a superstition which still exists in Catholic Holland that a marriage so celebrated would secure the peace of the dead within the tomb.


Books from Alibris: Martin van Heemskerck

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