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Johann Liss

(c. 1597—1631)


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(b Oldenburg, c.1597; d Verona, 5 Dec. 1631).

German painter, active mainly in Italy. Apart from Elsheimer, he was the most brilliant German painter of the 17th century. He trained in the Netherlands (probably in Amsterdam, possibly with Goltzius) and visited Paris before moving to Italy c.1620. Venice seems to have been the main centre of his activity, but he also worked in Rome, and Caravaggesque influence is clearly seen in such vivid and strongly lit works as Judith and Holofernes (c.1622, NG, London). His work enjoyed considerable popularity in Venice (where there was a dearth of talented native painters at this time) and his Vision of St Jerome in the church of S. Nicolò da Tolentino (c.1628) was much copied. It shows the remarkably free brushwork and brilliant use of high-keyed colour that were the salient features of his style and which were influential on Venetian painting when its glory revived in the 18th century. It was formerly assumed that Liss perished in the Venetian plague of 1629–30, but it is now known that he died in Verona in 1631.

Subjects: Art.


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