Gillis van Coninxloo


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(b Antwerp, 24 Jan. 1544; bur. Amsterdam, 4 Jan. 1606).

The outstanding member of a large and prolific family of Netherlandish painters, many of whom are not clearly distinguishable personalities. He left his native Antwerp after it was captured by the Spanish in 1585. Like other Protestant refugees, he fled to Holland, then in 1587 moved to Frankenthal (near Frankfurt) in Germany, where he became the most important figure among a small group of Netherlandish landscape painters, now known as the Frankenthal School. In 1595 he settled permanently in Amsterdam. Coninxloo's early landscapes are panoramic views of vast valleys and great mountain ranges populated by biblical or mythological figures, in the tradition of Bruegel. In later works, such as the majestic Forest (c.1600, KH Mus., Vienna), his field of vision is narrower and he concentrates on the mood evoked by luxuriant nature. Van Mander described Coninxloo as ‘the best landscape painter of his time’ and said ‘his style is now frequently imitated in Holland’. He was indeed a major figure in the transition from the Mannerist landscape tradition to the much more realistic idiom characteristic of 17th-century Dutch painters. His younger countrymen Roelandt Savery and David Vinckboons, who had come to Holland at about the same time as Coninxloo, were influenced by his late works, and his pupils included Hercules Segers and perhaps Esaias van de Velde.

Subjects: Art.

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