Jacques de Gheyn, a native of Antwerp, is one of the most original Netherlandish artists of the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. His impressive oeuvre includes masterful expressive drawings as well as paintings and many prints.
In his youth, De Gheyn moved fromFlandersto theDutchRepublic(Republic of the Seven United Netherlands) in the north. Between 1585–1587, he learned engraving inHaarlemin the workshop of Hendrick Goltzius, the most prominent Netherlandish graphic artist of his time. Later, he worked for publishers inAmsterdamand began to publish prints on his own in 1592. In his workshop, he cultivated excellent engravers, such as Zacharias Dolendo, Jan Saenredam, Robert de Baudous and Cornelis Drebbel. Gradually, he let them do increasingly more engraving work, while he engaged in creating designs for prints. . In 1595, he married Eva Stalpaert, a young woman from a rich burgher’s family, and moved toLeidenwhere he managed to obtain many commissions from the university milieu. His graphic work was thematically varied, spanning religious subjects, allegory and morality, but he also had commissions from Prince Maurice of Nassau and did private portraits. Around 1600, De Gheyn moved to The Hague where he mostly painted and designed graphic sheets, abandoning engraving to his assistants for good.
Jacques de Gheyn still appeals to viewers with his gift as an observer, which is best reflected in his portraits and allegoric or genre scenes. He also has an attractive artistic vocabulary that alters the elegant stylization of mannerism with a simple depiction of reality. De Gheyn therefore heralds change in 17th-century Dutch art.