Aertgen van Leyden


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(b Leiden, 1498; d Leiden, 1564). Dutch painter, draughtsman and designer of stained glass. Van Mander's extensive biographical account forms the basis of knowledge of the life and work of this otherwise elusive artist. According to him, Aertgen was the son of a Leiden ‘fuller’ or cloth finisher, but in 1516 he chose to become a painter and apprenticed himself to cornelis Engebrechtzoon. Van Mander describes the uneven quality and vast stylistic changes within Aertgen's work: at first he painted in the style of his master, then he was influenced by Jan van Scorel and later by Maarten van Heemskerck. Van Mander further reports that Aertgen's paintings represented mainly biblical stories from the Old and New Testament and that they were often beautifully composed, though painted in a ‘loose and unpleasant manner’. Leiden city records confirm that a painter called Aert Claeszoon was working in Leiden between 1521 and 1564 and living, as van Mander states, on the Zijdegracht (at least in 1561 and 1564). Van Mander also mentions that he made hundreds of designs for ‘glass engravers’ and lists a number of his paintings. One of these was rediscovered in 1969: a late triptych with the Last Judgement including donor portraits of the Montfoort family (1555; Valenciennes, Mus. B.-A.). This has proved the only undisputed work by Aertgen van Leyden, to whom a good many anonymous early 16th-century Leiden school drawings and paintings have been ascribed.


From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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