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Aertsen, Pieter (Netherlands, 1508 1575)

Aertsen, Pieter (b. 1508-09, Amsterdam, d. 1575, Amsterdam). Netherlandish painter, active in his native Amsterdam and in Antwerp. A pioneer of still life and genre painting, he is best known for scenes that at first glance look like pure examples of these types, but which in fact have a religious scene incorporated in them (Butcher's Stall with the Flight into Egypt, University of Uppsala, 1551). His depictions of food, flowers, and everyday objects make him important in the development of still-life painting. Aertsen was the head of a long dynasty of painters, of whom the most talented was his nephew and pupil Joachim Bueckelaer.

Pieter Aertsen, called "Long Peter", was a Dutch historical painter. He was born and died in Amsterdam, and painted there and in Antwerp he resided until around 1556. Hosted initially by Jan Mandyn, a gifted follower of Hieronymus Bosch and than as a youth apprenticed with Allaert Claesz, Pieter Aertsen links the Dutch and the Flemish schools. He distinguished himself by painting domestic scenes with marvelous fidelity. Later in life, he began documenting historical scenes. His sons, Pieter Pietersz and Aert Pieterz, also became acclaimed painters.
  Although he lived, worked and died in his native town, his genre scenes were influential in Italy. During his first years in Antwerp he was mainly commissioned to make altarpieces for Dutch churches. Several of his best works, including altarpieces in various churches, were destroyed in the Netherlands's religious wars. An excellent specimen of his style is a painting of the Crucifixion.
  A pioneer of still life and genre painting, he is best known for scenes that look like pure examples of these types, but which in fact have a religious scene incorporated in them (Butcher's Stall with the Flight into Egypt, University of Uppsala, 1551). His depictions of food, flowers, everyday objects and scenes from peasant life make him important in the development of still-life painting. Aertsen was the head of a long dynasty of painters, of whom the most talented were his nephew and pupil Joachim Bueckelaer and Giovanni Stradano.
  Renowned today as the painter of "kitchens" (Christ with Maria and Martha), featuring an opulent and familiar realism, he is in fact a varied and ambitious painter, tackling both religious compositions, genre scenes and portrait: his career can be traced between 1543 and 1571 with a series of signed and dated artworks. Today he is considered as important as Bruegel among 16th century painting: a powerful and monumental artist, using splendid and frank tones, announcing the Flemish still-life developments with such realism and surcharge of details.
  His compositions packed at the front with vegetables reflect a mannerist pathos specific to the 16th century; however if religious figuration is often relegated in the background in a subordinated position (a scheme that will later have much success, among his younger cousin and pupil Beuckelaer for instance, who took over this style of painting and developed it further), the religious painter should not be ignored, with such massive formats and powerful ambitions. He was tormented by iconoclasts and practiced a heroic and dignified style, close to and competing with Floris.

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