16 facts about Adam Elsheimer

By Gwylym Owen

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Adam Elsheimer (18 March 1578 – 11 December 1610) was a German artist functional in Rome, who died at without help thirty-two, but was agreed influential in the further on 17th century in the dome of Baroque paintings. His relatively few paintings were small scale, nearly anything painted upon copper plates, of the type often known as cabinet paintings. They put in a variety of open effects, and an protester treatment of landscape. He was an influence on many supplementary artists, including Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens.

Elsheimer was born in Frankfurt am Main, one of ten kids and the son of a master-tailor. His father’s house (which survived until destroyed by Allied bullets in 1944) was a few metres from the church where Albrecht Dürer’s Heller Altarpiece was later displayed. He was apprenticed to the artist Philipp Uffenbach. He probably visited Strasbourg in 1596. At the age of twenty, he travelled to Italy via Munich, where he was documented in 1598.

His stay in Venice is undocumented, but the influence on his style is clear. He probably worked as an partner in crime to Johann Rottenhammer, some of whose drawings he owned. Rottenhammer was a German who had been vivacious in Italy for some years, and was the first German painter to specialize in cabinet paintings. Uffenbach had specialized in large altarpieces, and although Elsheimer’s earliest little paintings on copper seem to date from previously he arrived in Italy, Rottenhammer’s involve is distinct on his times work.

Elsheimer is believed to have produced some significant works in Venice, such as The Baptism of Christ (National Gallery, London) and The Holy Family (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin) which performance the imitate of the Venetian painters Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, as competently as Rottenhammer.

In in the future 1600, Elsheimer arrived in Rome and quickly made connections with links of Rottenhammer, notably Giovanni Faber, a Papal doctor, botanist and collector originally from Bamberg. He was Curator of the Vatican Botanical Garden, and a advocate of the Accademia dei Lincei, a small intellectual coterie founded in 1603, and mainly concerned with the natural sciences.

Another friend of Rottenhammer was the Flemish landscape painter Paul Bril, already time-honored in Rome, who was (with Faber) a witness at Elsheimer’s marriage, painted a Describe together as soon as him (now Chatsworth House), and was owed grant by him at his death. Like Faber, Bril was a long-term resident in Rome who had converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism, as Elsheimer did later.

Both Faber and Bril knew Rubens, who was in Rome in 1601, and who became substitute friend, later reproaching Elsheimer for not producing more work. He knew David Teniers the Elder, recently Rubens’ pupil, and there is evidence that they lodged together. In 1604 Karel van Mander, a Dutchman recently returned from Rome, published his Schilder-Boeck which praised Elsheimer’s work, and described him as slow-working and making few drawings. He moreover spent much become old in churches, studying the works of the masters. Other writers insinuation his exceptional visual memory, his melancholy and his kind-heartedness. In a letter after his death, Rubens wrote: “he had no equal in small figures, landscapes, and in many additional subjects. …one could have time-honored things from him that one has never seen previously and never will see.”

In 1606, Elsheimer married Carola Antonia Stuarda da Francoforte (i.e. Stuart of Frankfurt- she was of Scottish ancestry and a fellow Frankfurter), and in 1609 they had a son. The son was not mentioned in a census a year later, possibly (Klessman says optimistically) because he had been mistreated to a wet-nurse. She was the recent widow of the artist Nicolas de Breul (born in Verdun) and after Elsheimer’s death remarried an Italian artist, Ascanio Quercia, within a year of his death. Elsheimer converted to Catholicism by 1608 (possibly 1606). He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, the Roman painters’ Guild, in 1606, giving them a self-portrait (his unaccompanied portrait, and unaccompanied painting on canvas) now in the Uffizi. In bad feeling of his fame and talents, he appears to have both lived and died in hard financial circumstances.

Elsheimer’s painting of Tobias and the Angel (1602–1603) (the “small” Tobias – now at Frankfurt) was especially skillfully received because of its other conception of landscape. This Describe was engraved by Count Hendrick Goudt and fittingly was published across Europe. However, his relationship with Goudt, who lodged and trained with him for several years, was difficult. Elsheimer seems to have borrowed child support from Goudt, which according to one account resulted in his brief incarceration in Debtor’s prison. After Elsheimer’s into the future death in 1610 in Rome, Goudt owned several of his pictures. Goudt made seven engravings of Elsheimer’s paintings, which were crucial in spreading his influence, as utterly few of his paintings were viewable even by artists; as cabinet paintings they were mostly kept in small and agreed private rooms.

Elsheimer had a firm preference for choosing rare or original subjects, both for his mythological and religious paintings. Jupiter and Mercury in the home of Philemon and Baucis, (c. 1608, now Dresden) is based on an episode in Ovid, and had never been painted before. The Mocking of Ceres (Kingston, Ontario, a copy exists in the Prado), Apollo and Coronis (Liverpool), and Il Contento (Edinburgh) were equally new. Some of his religious scenes were more conventional, but his selection of the moment to depict, as in St Lawrence prepared for Martyrdom (London), is often unusual.

His perfectionism, and an apparent tendency to depression, resulted in a small sum output, despite the small size of everything his pictures. In anything about forty paintings are now generally entirely to be by him (see Kressmann below). He made a few etchings, not unconditionally successfully. However, his undertaking was severely regarded by extra artists and a few important collectors for its quality. He had a distinct and tackle influence on other Northern artists who were in Rome such as Paul Bril, Jan Pynas, Leonaert Bramer and Pieter Lastman, later Rembrandt’s master, who was probably in Rome by 1605. Rembrandt’s first dated show is a Stoning of St Stephen which appears to be a answer to Elsheimer’s painting of the subject, now in Edinburgh. Some works by Italian artists, such as the six pictures from Ovid by Carlo Saraceni now in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, also undertaking Elsheimer’s sure influence. Rubens, who owned at least four of his works, knew Elsheimer in Rome, and praised him intensely in a letter after his death.

In a wider sense, he was influential in three respects. Firstly his night scenes were very original. His lighting effects in general were unquestionably subtle, and unquestionably different from those of Caravaggio. He often uses as many as five interchange sources of light, and former students the open relatively gently, with the less well-lit parts of the composition often containing important parts of it.

Secondly, his incorporation of poetic landscape in imitation of large foreground figures gives the landscape a stress that had rarely been seen before the Early Renaissance. His landscapes pull off not always feature an extensive view; often the lushness of the vegetation closes it off. They are more realistic, but no less poetic, than those of Bril or Jan Brueghel, and take effect in the formation of those of Poussin and Claude. His treatment of large figures in the same way as a landscape backdrop looks forward, through Rubens and van Dyck, to the English portrait in the eighteenth century. Soon after his death he became no question popular subsequent to English collectors, notably King Charles I of England, the Earl of Arundel, and George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and over half his paintings have been in English collections at some time (nearly one third are still in the UK).

Thirdly, his integration of Italian styles once the German tradition he was trained in is perhaps more full of life than that of any Northern painter past Dürer (with the exception of his buddy Rubens). His compositions tend to underplay the drama of the events they depict (in noticeable contrast to those of Rubens), but often work the start of moments of transformation. His figures are relatively rude and stocky, and reflect little of classical ideals. Their poses and gestures are unflamboyant, and their facial expressions resemble those in Early Netherlandish painting rather than the bella figura of most Italian Renaissance work.

The largest hoard of his act out is in Frankfurt. The Alte Pinakothek, Munich has two of his finest night-scene paintings, and Berlin, Bonn, Dresden and Hamburg have paintings. The National Gallery, London has three paintings past others in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Apsley House, Windsor Castle, Petworth House, the Wellcome Library and Liverpool. In 2006 an exhibition at the Städel, Frankfurt, then Edinburgh, and the Dulwich Gallery in London reunited almost anything his oeuvre.

There are drawings in Paris (Musée du Louvre) and Edinburgh among supplementary locations.

Only two works are upon public display outside Europe. One is in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth (The Flight into Egypt), and the additional is the Mocking of Ceres, now in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario, badly damaged by ember at some dwindling in its history; it had been part of the Dutch Gift to Charles II of England in 1660.

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