Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Joseph Heintz the Elder

The Rape of Proserpina
circa 1595
oil on panel
size unknown
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), Dresden, Germany

Joseph Heintz the Elder (1564-1609) was a Swiss painter, draftsman and architect. His paintings included religious images, portraits, and, following the emperor Rudolf II's taste, erotic mythological themes. Agitated figures, shallow depth, and a cool-toned, colorful palette characterize his very personal style.

He was born in Basle. He received his early training from a painter and from his father, an architect-mason.  His first surviving drawings (1580) show something akin to Holbein's manner in his stained-glass window designs. He appears to have educated himself copying the works of Hans Holbein the younger. From 1584 to around 1591, he was in Italy, where he joined a circle of German and Netherlandish artists in Rome. He also studied ancient art and copied paintings by Renaissance artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo, and Polidoro da Caravaggio. In 1587 he traveled to Florence and Venice, absorbing the styles of Tintoretto, Titian, and Paolo Veronese. In autumn 1591 the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II summoned him as ‘portraitist and court painter' to Prague and ennobling him in 1602. He spent his later career primarily as an architect, mainly in Augsburg and Prague. He designed the east facade of Augsburg's new customs house.