This is Joachim Wtewael

By Gwylym Owen

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Joachim Anthoniszoon Wtewael (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈyːtəʋaːl]; also known as Uytewael [ˈœytəʋaːl]) (1566 – 1 August 1638) was a Dutch Mannerist painter and draughtsman, as without difficulty as a highly flourishing flax merchant, and town councillor of Utrecht. Wtewael was one of the leading Dutch exponents of Northern Mannerism, and his distinctive and attractive style remained largely distorted by the naturalistic developments happening on the subject of him, “characterized by masterfully drawn, highly polished figures often set in capricious poses”. Wtewael was trained in the style of late 16th-century Haarlem Mannerism and remained essentially faithful to it, despite painting skillfully into the early era of Dutch Golden Age painting.

Altogether he has left virtually a hundred paintings, as well as drawings and some stained glass he designed. He painted a amalgamation of large paintings upon canvas, and tiny cabinet paintings on copper plates, the latter the more numerous and typically the most distinctive. There is then a organization of mid-sized paintings, often upon panel. In anything these sizes he painted a fusion of agreeable religious subjects and mythological ones, the latter in imitation of a strong erotic element. Especially in his works upon copper he returns to the same subjects in several works, but varying the compositions. The Adoration of the Shepherds, Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan, and the Feast of the Gods as the wedding feasts of Cupid and Psyche, Peleus and Thetis, the latter often combined past the Judgement of Paris, and Lot and His Daughters, are some examples of these favourite subjects. The first of these was painted in all sizes. Often the large paintings contain forlorn a few figures, but the little and center sized ones are definitely crowded compositions, the mythological ones typically including many nudes. In some works he moreover revived the kitchen scene subjects of Pieter Aertsen from a half century before. According to Seymour Slive, “When competently preserved his Tiny pictures glow as soon as gems”.

He was totally prosperous as a merchant of flax (for the develop of linen and canvas), which no doubt occupied much of his time, but was also well-known as a painter in his own day, with his reputation reaching as far and wide as Prague, where Emperor Rudolf II obtained his The Golden Age (now Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). His large house on one of the main canals of Utrecht remains, though remodelled, and as with ease as associates portraits the Utrecht museum has two very fine pieces of his furniture. He had several children, and seems to have stopped painting for in explanation to the last decade of his life, perhaps influenced by the illness and death of his wife. Like his brother he was a city councillor; as a fanatic of the main Dutch Reformed Church he was operating in the struggles as soon as the Remonstrants. His best known work, and concerning his largest, is the near life-size Perseus and Andromeda in the Louvre. Producing his very finished small paintings was probably not categorically economic, and he was not terse of money; his own pleasure and fame were probably his main motivations. His granddaughter nevertheless owned 30 of his paintings in 1669.

Reflecting an mass of fascination in Wtewael’s art in recent decades, in 2015–16 Pleasure and Piety: The Art of Joachim Wtewael (1566–1638), the first major exhibition devoted solely to his work, showed in Utrecht, Washington DC and Houston, Texas.

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