(b Antwerp, c. 1470; d Antwerp, c. 1527). South Netherlandish painter. His father was the sculptor Jan Mertens the elder (fl c. 1473–1509), whose family is thought to have originated in Tournai; he was a respected member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke, serving as regent in 1478, 1481 and 1487. Mertens the younger was apprenticed to the painter Jan Gossart in 1505, and he became a master of the Antwerp guild in 1509. He was the father-in-law and perhaps teacher of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, who married Mertens's daughter Anna before 1526 and whose work has been used as the basis for the identification of Mertens with the Master of 1518, an Antwerp painter named after the date inscribed on the painted wings of a carved wooden altarpiece of the Life of the Virgin in the Marienkirche, Lübeck. The sharp focus, lively narrative and exaggerated poses evident in the painted wings in Lübeck are characteristic of Antwerp mannerism, but Mertens's work is distinguished by its brilliant colour, sense of structure, thoughtful composition and delicacy of style (see fig.). Mertens formed an important link in the artistic dynasties of Antwerp, for his second daughter married first Jan van Amstel, now usually identified with the brunswick monogrammist (see under Monogrammists), and subsequently Gillis van Coninxloo III (see Coninxloo, van (i), (2)).
From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Renaissance Art.