Herman van Swanevelt

Born: 1600  - Death: 1655    Located in: The Rembrandt Room

Swanevelt was a Dutch painter, etcher and draughtsman who worked mainly in Paris and Rome. His works were often landscapes that included religious and mythological themes. Painting at a time when the praise of landscapes grew, along with contemporary landscape artists such as Claude Lorrain (1600 – 1682), Swanevelt’s style became popular in Italy. No doubt influenced by Lorrain’s accomplishments at the time, Swanevelt also absorbed the landscape style of his fellow countryman visiting Italy, Cornelius van Poelenburgh (1590 – 1667).

The painter’s first documented works included two Views of Paris from 1623 during his time there and made his way to Rome in 1629, where he found much success. He received prominent patrons there including the noble Barberini Family, of who at the time was Maffeo Barberini, better known as Pope Urban VII (1568 – 1644). This also led to commissions from the Vatican itself, furthering Swanevelt’s popularity in Rome. His works were also brought to Spain on commission from King Philip IV (1605 – 1665) for his Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid. He also returned to France, where his patrons were Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585 – 1642) and King Louis XIV (1638 – 1715), additional to painting decorations for the Hôtel Lambert in Paris. He settled there in Paris, becoming a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and sometimes traveling to his birthplace of Woerden in the Netherlands.

Of his early works in Italy, is the Old Testament Scene, which is a classic Swanevelt painting, monumental in scope and expressive in it’s use of sunlight. Other notable works include, his Wooded Landscape and Woodland Landscape, now in the Getty Museum of Los Angeles. Also his Landscape with Bathing Nymphs, his many, Italianate Landscapes, Landscape with Travelers and the Huntsman at Rest. All together, he painted Italian, French and Dutch scenery, and his works are now found all over the world in museums, including his one landscape in the Uffizi Gallery.

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