Abraham Bloemaert

Dates1564 - 1651
BornGorinchem, The Netherlands
DiedUtrecht, The Netherlands

Despite being the son of an architect and sculptor, Abraham Bloemaert's artistic training was fragmented. He worked under six masters, for one of whom he was also a houseboy. He absorbed the Mannerism of the School of Fontainebleau, which stayed with him for life. Except for a short period in Amsterdam, he lived in Utrecht, becoming so important that Peter Paul Rubens visited him in 1627. Around 1600, landscape became increasingly vital to his art; over time, the subject matter of these landscapes became incidental, even difficult to find. Bloemaert's landscapes incorporated Mannerism's restless light effects and strong contrasts, richly colored palette, and lots of movement and detail. François Boucher later recognized a kindred spirit, incorporating many of Bloemaert's motifs in his painting.

In the 1620s Bloemaert's pupil Gerrit van Honthorst imported Caravaggio's ideas to Utrecht from Italy. Bloemaert developed a decorative synthesis of Caravaggio's contrasting light effects and Mannerism's bright, acid colors. Always open to fresh ideas, Bloemaert depicted mythological and religious subjects completely new to Dutch art, designed tapestries, stained-glass windows, and made over 1,500 drawings. In 1611 he co-founded Utrecht's Guild of Saint Luke. Widely influential through his engravings, Bloemaert also taught a generation of Utrecht's best artists, including Hendrick Ter Brugghen and Cornelis van Poelenburgh.