Who is Cornelis Ketel?

By Gwylym Owen

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Cornelis or Cornelius Ketel (18 March 1548 – 8 August 1616) was a Dutch Mannerist painter, active in Elizabethan London from 1573 to 1581, and in Amsterdam till his death. Ketel, known really as a portrait-painter, was as well as a poet and orator, and from 1595 a sculptor as well.

According to Ketel’s biography, written by his contemporary Karel van Mander, he seems to have wanted to concentrate on the most prestigious of the hierarchy of genres, history painting, which included mythological subjects, but after he left France he is known going on for entirely as a portrait-painter. Neither England nor Holland had much request for large archives paintings during his lifetime, and none of Ketel’s histories or allegorical paintings are known to have survived intact, although drawings and prints survive. He did however significantly have emotional impact the move forward of the largest type of painting commonly produced in the United Provinces at this period, the civic charity portrait.

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