Cornelis van Poelenburgh was a founder of Dutch Italianate landscape painting. He studied under the Utrecht Mannerist Abraham Bloemaert, but his years in Rome, from 1617 to 1625, were more decisive for his development. An early member of the schildersbent, the club for Rome's Netherlandish painters, he was nicknamed "Satyr." In Rome, a friend noted that Poelenburgh "exerted himself to the utmost to paint his figures in the manner of Raphael." Poelenburgh also copied German artist Adam Elsheimer's Italianate landscapes, which were usually painted on copper. In addition to his years in Rome, Poelenburgh spent time in Florence working for the grand duke of Tuscany. After returning from Italy, he became one of Utrecht's leading artists, honored as Peter Paul Rubens's guide during his 1627 visit to the city. At the king's invitation, Poelenburgh worked in England from 1638 to 1641. He probably remained in Utrecht from that point onward.
Poelenburgh painted some history paintings, but his fame rests on the enamel-smooth landscapes, often depicting romantic ruins and statuary fragments, that he created after 1620. He was among the first artists to render Italian sunlight and atmosphere convincingly. His highly detailed figures were so admired that he was hired to paint them in other artists' works. The careers of Poelenburgh's many followers stretched into the 1700s.