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Abraham Bloemaert: The Icon of Northern Mannerism

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Incorporating the restless light effects and strong contrasts of richly colored  palette of Mannerism the landscapes of the Dutch painter Abraham Bloemaert are remarkable in their style and grandeur. One of the co-founder of Utrecht Guild of St. Luke Bloemaert was born on 25 December 1566 in Gorinchem, Habsburg Netherlands. Despite being son of an architect and sculptor, Bloemaert's artistic training was fragmented. In 1575 he moved with his family to Utrecht and apprenticed to six different masters including his father.

During his three years stay in Paris, from 1581 to 1583, he studied for six weeks under Jean Cousin the Younger and Maistre Herry. He absorbed the Mannerism of the school of Fontainebleau, which stayed with him for life. In 1583 he returned to Utrecht and after few years accompanied his father to Amsterdam. After the death of his father in 1593, he finally returned to Utrecht and became a deken of Utrecht Guild of Saint Luke in 1618.

Around 1600, landscapes became increasingly vital to his art; gradually the subject matter of these landscapes became incidental, even difficult to find. Excelled as a colorist Bloemaert was extremely productive, painted and etched historical and allegorical pictures, landscapes, still life, animal pictures and flower pieces. In 1620s when his artistic career was at its height, his style began to change. Influenced by Caravaggio’s ideas, imported from Italy by one of his pupil Gerrit van Honthorst, Bloemaert developed a synthesis of Caravaggio's contrasting light effects and Mannerism's bright, acid colors. A pious Catholic in Protestant Northern Netherlands, Bloemaert depicted mythological and religious subjects. Always fresh to new ideas he designed tapestries, stained-glass windows and made over 1500 drawings.

He was an influential figure, leading painter and outstanding teacher. Both Honthrost, Terbrugghen and virtually all the Utrecht painters of the period who attend any kind of distinction trained with him. Represented in the collection of world’s famous museums as Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan,  Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Indianapolis Museum of Arts, Indiana, etc.  The painter was died in Utrecht on 27 January 1561.

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