Pieter Coecke van Aelst

Dates1502 - 1550
RolesArtist, Illuminator
BornAelst, The Netherlands
DiedBrussels, The Netherlands

Through teaching, designs, and publications, Pieter Coecke van Aelst stimulated the sculpture, architecture, and painting of his day. His translations of Italian architectural treatises helped to introduce Italian art theory into the Netherlands. Born in Aelst, where his father was deputy mayor, Coecke may have studied with Bernaert van Orley in Brussels. According to Karel van Mander, Coecke traveled to Italy between 1525 and 1526 on a journey that profoundly influenced his art. By 1527 Coecke had joined Antwerp's painters guild; by 1529 he was accepting students, who may have included his son-in-law Pieter Bruegel the Elder. After his death, his wife, a miniaturist, made woodcuts based on Coecke's now-lost drawings from his trip to Constantinople in 1533; these remain a key record of his style. No painting by Coecke's hand can be identified with certainty, but his most famous work, the Last Supper, is known through forty-one replicas made by his prolific workshop. Shortly before his death, Coecke was named court painter to Emperor Charles V.