Het Frans Hals Museum, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar and Teylers Museum will organize the first major retrospective exhibition on Maarten van Heemskerck. The Frans Hals Museum focuses on Heemskerck’s early career.
Maarten van Heemskerck was one of the most successful, innovative artists of the Northern Netherlands in the sixteenth century. In his lifetime, he saw the advent of Protestantism, new technology and the rise of the Dutch Republic. The changes that happened around him are reflected in his work: before it had been the Church, now burghers also patronised the arts, the impact of the Italian Renaissance reverberated in Holland and artists longed to see the art of Antiquity and their famous Italian contemporaries with their own eyes, while the iconoclastic cleansing of the churches brought a violent end to church art in the Northern Netherlands.
In the Frans Hals Museum, the focus is on Maarten van Heemskerck’s early career. A comparison of his work with that of teachers and contemporaries such as Jan Gossaert and Jan van Scorel reveals how the up-and-coming, talented Heemskerck adopted and excelled in a remarkable new way of painting. This distinctly realistic style is clearly evident in the timeless portraits he painted for his increasingly successful burgher patrons. He depicted them with lifelike accuracy, down to the wrinkles and facial blemishes. Our exhibition concludes with his St Luke Painting the Virgin, the last work Heemskerck painted before leaving for Rome. It was one of the works Haarlem’s city council managed to save from the iconoclastic mob in 1566. A testimony to the high esteem in which Heemskerck was already held. St Luke Painting the Virgin has been restored specially for this exhibition and the spectacular result has revealed new insights into the way Heemskerck worked.
This year is the 450th anniversary of Maarten van Heemskerck’s death, then a wealthy, prominent burgher of Haarlem where he had settled after returning from Rome.