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Swiss painter; b. at Basle, 11 June, 1564; d. near Prague, Bohemia, October, 1609. He appears to have been a pupil of Hans Bock, and to have educated himself by diligent practice in copying the works of Hans Holbein the younger. Between 1585 and 1587 he lived in Rome, registering himself a pupil; to Hans von Aachen. He next settled in Bohemia in 1591, and was at once appointed court painter to Rudolf II, but he remained at Prague for two years only, as in 1593 he was commissioned to make some copies from the antique for the emperor, and for that purpose went to Rome, where he spent some years. In 1604 we hear of him in Augsburg, and from the time we know little of his history, until his decease is recorded in a village outside of Prague. His works were at one time in extraordinary demand, but later on suffered an eclipse, and are now not so highly esteemed as they deserve. His portraits and landscapes are his best works; the family portrait at Berne and that of his patron Rudolf II at Vienna are excellent examples of serious and academic portraiture. In his landscapes he was too fond of a remarkable green colour, but in composition his works were simple and not so crowded as were those of many of his contemporaries in the Dutch School. He was constantly investigating subtle questions of light, and almost all of his landscapes show the interest he took in this technical matter. A notable work by him is the "Rape of Proserpine", which hangs in the Dresden Gallery, and was engraved by Kilian; in the same gallery are two other well-known works, "Lot and His Daughters" and "Ecce Homo". He had a son, who bore the same name, and who painted a few religious pictures not of special importance; several of these works hitherto attributed to the son are now believed to be late productions by the father.
Woermann, Gesch. Der Kunst (Dresden, 1902); Bohemian Dict. Of Artists (Dlabacz, 1877); Schweizerisches Kunstlerlexikon (1902).
GEORGE CHARLES WILLIAMSON