Hendrick Goltzius

Dates1558 - 1617
BornMühlbracht, The Netherlands
DiedHaarlem, The Netherlands

Hendrick Goltzius had a "compulsion to make ostentatious display of his virtuosity," a scholar once wrote. If Goltzius showed off, who can blame him? After all, he had the use of only one hand: his right hand had been maimed in a fire, and he was completely unable to extend his fingers. Goltzius arrived in Haarlem at age nineteen. Two years later, he married a rich widow who helped him set up a workshop. He left Haarlem only once to visit Germany and Italy in 1590 to 1591, bringing home a more classical, naturalistic art that shifted Dutch artists away from the eccentric Mannerist style. His panoramic, open-air drawings of Holland's scenery, among the earliest Dutch landscapes, paved the way for younger artists like Rembrandt van Rijn.

Famous for his printmaking, Goltzius worked in secret and never showed an unfinished work. By 1600 he had abandoned the burin for the brush. His eyesight was failing due to years of painstaking work with engraving tools, and, like his contemporaries, he believed painting to be superior to printmaking. He died in 1617, never achieving the same quality on panel as he had on paper.