Cornelis Bega

Born: 1631  - Death: 1664    Located in: The Rembrandt Room

Bega was privileged by a well to do father and a mother, who had inherited from her father, Cornelis Van Haarlem (1562 – 1638), a wealth of art that surrounded the child. This was quite literal in that Cornelis Van Haarlem was a leading artist of the Dutch Mannerist Painters, who had accumulated a fair estate. He left with his daughter, much gold and silver, as well as paintings, red chalk drawings and various prints.

This artistic lineage no doubt influenced Bega and he began his studies as a painter with the prolific Dutch artist, Adriaen van Ostade (1610 – 1685). Ostade was a well known genre painter (scenes of everyday life), during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th Century. His works were often busy depictions of everyday life, in settings such as taverns; something that Bega carried into his own work. Bega captured life throughout the villages of Holland, especially his home of Haarlem, but also saw Germany, Switzerland and France. He had a diverse range of subjects, anything from Musicians to Village Quacks, mothers to prostitutes or gamblers to alchemists.

In 1654, Bega was entered into the Haarlem Painter Guild of Saint Luke, having already gained quite a reputation traveling with another member of the Guild, Dutch painter, Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne (1628 – 1702). With age, Bega developed a more intimate, warmer style to portray his characters and subjects, as seen in his 1663 work, The Alchemist and also a 1664 piece, Woman Playing a Lute, now in the Uffizi Gallery. Bega’s work, while not surpassing his master Van Ostade in technical skill, is said to have a greater dimension of psychological depth, which influenced other Dutch artists, like Jan Steen (1626 – 1679).

Some of his other well known works include, The Lute Player (1662) at the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden, The Duet (1663) at the National Museum of Stockholm, Tavern Scene (1664) at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. Also in private collections are his pieces, Village Market with the Quack (1658) and Tavern Interior.

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