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HEEMSKERCK, Maerten van (b. 1498, Heemskerck, d. 1574, Haarlem)/ ARTISTS BEFORE 1650/ MAIN ART original lfff site
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Netherlandish painter, worked with Scorel in Haarlem 1527-29 and learned most of the Italianate manner from him before going to Italy in 1532 himself. Before he left he gave his St Luke Painting the Virgin to the Haarlem Guild (now in Haarlem, Hals Museum); this is almost a parody of the Italian manner, as conceived by a Northerner at second hand.

In Rome he made a large number of drawings (1532-35) of the antiquities and works of art, and two of his sketchbooks (Berlin) are invaluable evidence for the monuments of antiquity as they existed in the 16th century, as well as for such things as the building of New St Peter’s.

He settled in Haarlem in 1537 and worked there for the rest of his life except for a flight to Amsterdam (1572-73) while the Spaniards were besieging Haarlem. He painted a number of fine portraits, as well as Italianate religious pictures. There are works by him in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), Barnard Castle (Bowes Museum), Berlin, Brussels, Cambridge (Fitzwilliams, Self Portrait with the Colosseum in the Background ), Kassel, Ghent, The Hague, Lille, Linköping Cathedral, Sweden, New York (Metropolitan Museum), as well as in Haarlem and elsewhere.

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aerten van Heemskerck: Die Gemälde –  
  Les désastres de la nation juive, scènes de l’ancien testament –
  De tochten van Willem Barentsz en Jacob van Heemskerck en de overwintering op Nova Zembla, zoals opgetekend door Gerrit de Veer –





Family Portrait

c. 1530
Oil on wood, 118 x 140 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

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This painting of an unknown family is one of the most important works of portraiture in 16th-century Netherlandish art. It also provides an exemplary illustration of the possibilities offered by the combination of Early Netherlandish tradition, Italian influences and creative talent.

The clear compositional structure, stabilized by its "corner posts" of father and mother yet with no sense of rigidity, reflects both the influences with which Heemskerck was confronted in Rome and his own endeavours to lend plastic conviction to his figures and objects. The richly decked table, on the other hand, with its carefully executed tableware and food, takes up the love of detail so characteristic of Early Netherlandish painting. It is but a short step from here to the emergence of the still-life as a genre in its own right.

While the different ages of the three children are accurately characterized, the figures nevertheless remain coolly distanced from the spectator. The inner world of the painting remains hermetically sealed, an impression reinforced by the technique employed for the background, whereby the paint is applied in thin, smooth layers in pale forms which seem to be abstracted from clouds.

Heemskerck’s Family Portrait, one of his greatest works, was for a long time attributed to his fellow Dutchman Jan van Scorel.