HEEMSKERCK, Maerten (or Maarten) van

(1498-1574)
Maerten van Heemskerck was born to be a farmer in the village from which he takes his surname. His work includes painted portraits, religious altarpieces, and mythological scenes, as well as graphic works, often with allegorical mean­ing inspired by Dutch humanists such as Dirck Coornhert* and Hadrianus Junius. Heemskerck s monumental style, focusing on human anatomy and modeled on that of Michelangelo* and Giulio Romano,* influenced the development of Mannerism in the northern Netherlands.
Heemskerck initially trained in Delft and then between 1527 and 1532 with Jan van Scorel,* a well-known Haarlem artist who introduced his Italian style to Heemskerck. Before leaving for Rome in 1532, Heemskerck painted one of his most masterful works, St. Luke Painting the Virgin, for the Haarlem Painters Guild Chapel in St. Bavo. Heemskerck s depiction of this favorite subject of artists is unusual in its low viewpoint, sharp, unnatural light, and humanistic treatment of the subject. The painting includes a classical muse that some schol­ars consider a self-portrait peering over the artist s shoulder, a robust torch-bearing angel resembling an antique Victory figure, and a Michelangelesque Madonna and Child.
During his Rome sojourn, from 1532 to 1536/37, Heemskerck sketched an­tique statuary and architectural ruins and works of Raphael* and Michelangelo and painted several mythological scenes on canvas. He also participated in dec­orating the triumphal arch for Charles V s* joyous entry into Rome on 5 April 1536 and met the Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari,* who mentions Heem-skerck in his Lives of the Artists.
Returning to Haarlem, Heemskerck joined the painters guild of St. Luke, becoming dean in 1554. As well as painting numerous altarpieces, Heemskerck continued to paint and design prints of mythological scenes with humanist themes. An accomplished portrait painter, in a 1553 self-portrait he depicted himself in a noble three-quarters bust view before the ruins of the Roman Col­osseum.
Unfortunately, Heemskerck lived to see some of his religious work destroyed by iconoclasts, zealots who considered depictions of sacred figures anathema to their beliefs. Other works were lost when the Spanish besieged Haarlem in 1572 and took some of Heemskerck s paintings to Spain.
Heemskerck s fame spread through his numerous engravings of religious, mythological, historical, and allegorical subjects, some with Latin verses com­posed by the humanist Hadrianus Junius. Rembrandt owned a number of them, and much of seventeenth-century Dutch iconography and allegory in art is in­debted to Heemskerck s work.
Bibliography
I. M. Veldman, Maarten van Heemskerck and Dutch Humanism in the Sixteenth Century, 1977.
Susan H. Jenson

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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