SPRANGER, Bartholomaeus

(1546-C. 1611)
Bartholomaeus Spranger, Flemish by birth, was the leading painter at the court of the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II* in Prague. A well-traveled man who visited France, Italy, and Vienna before settling in Prague, Spranger developed a dis­tinctive late Mannerist style that drew on Italian Mannerism, particularly that of Correggio.*
Spranger was born and trained in Antwerp, coming under the influence of the painter Frans Floris.* Spranger's Rudolfine school of Mannerism was more pro­nounced than that of Antwerp, and his fantastic allegories, with their spirals, diagonal formats, and scenes of exaggerated movement, such as Rudolf Il's Victory over the Turks, were greatly to the liking of the eccentric emperor. Rudolf II attracted a number of painters to his court, including Giuseppe Arcim-boldo,* Jan Bruegel the Elder, and Roelandt Savery, as well as Spranger, but no one of the first rank, unlike other Habsburg courts. Rudolf also employed the great astronomers Tycho Brahe* and Johannes Kepler,* who produced for him the Rudolfine Tables, an important work on astronomy.
There were few foreign artists who stayed in Rudolf's Prague for any length of time. Spranger was probably the most talented of those who came and re­mained in the city, which was in fact a center of the arts generally, was enriched with many new Renaissance buildings, and was the site of art fairs. Spranger married into the burgher class in Prague and became a leader of the guild of painters in the city, never returning to the Netherlands. But Spranger's Mannerist influence was to return to the Netherlands when Karel van Mander, who had met him in Rome, took some of his drawings back to Holland. There they were admired by Hendrick Goltzius, one of the founders, along with van Mander himself, of the Haarlem "academy."
R.J.W. Evans, RudolfII and His World, 1973.
Rosemary Poole

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

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