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Cornelis van Haarlem
Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert, circa 1603



"Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz" Dutch Mannerist Golden Age Old Master Oil Painting on Chamfered Oak Panel, Cornelis van Haarlem, circa 1603 "Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert" "Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert" is perhaps the finest painting I have ever offered.     Cornelis van Haarlem (1562-1638),  often referred to as "the Dutch Michelangelo"was born in Haarlem to an affluent family. He was a pupil of Gillis Congnet in Antwerp for a year, but afterwards was active in Haarlem. When his parents fled the Spanish siege of Haarlem in 1572, Cornelis remained behind with Pieter Pietersz, to whom he was apprenticed. In 1580 and 1581, he studied under artists in Rouen and Antwerp, before returning to Haarlem.   Besides religious and mythological scenes, Cornelis van Haarlem also painted portraits, kitchen scenes and still lifes. Cornelis van Haarlem painted mainly portraits as well as mythological and Biblical subjects. Initially Cornelis Cornelisz painted large-size, highly stylized works with Italianate nudes in twisted poses with a grotesque, unnatural anatomy. Later, his style changed to one based on the Netherlandish realist tradition. Cornelis Corneliszoon van Haarlem (1562-1638) was an important Dutch Mannerist painter who lived and worked in the city from 1562 till 1638. Together with the engraver Hendrick Goltzius and artist's biographer Karel van Mander, Cornelisz founded the ‘Haarlem Academy’, which provided the opportunity to draw from live models and plaster casts.   These three artists represent the Dutch brand of Mannerism, with complex compositions featuring nudes in twisted poses and intricate positions.  Before this time, no Dutch artists studied the nude, but Cornelis van Haarlem made the naked figure the principal motif of his drawings. Van Mander described him as the greatest artist of his day. Cornelis Cornelis van Haarlem produced historical pieces inspired by biblical scenes, or those from classical mythology, which he tried to depict in as compelling and striking a manner as possible. In his paintings, which were usually very large, Cornelis van Haarlem rendered drama on a grand scale to sublime effect. Restless compositions, pronounced colour effects, expressive gestures, violent emotions and muscular nudes in contorted poses astound the viewer. His paintings are conclusive proof of his unbridled artistic curiosity. They represent Dutch Mannerism in its most daring and experimental form. Van Haarlem became a respected member of the community and in 1583 he received his first official commission from the city of Haarlem, a militia company portrait, The Banquet of the Haarlem Civic Guard. He later became city painter of Haarlem and received numerous official commissions. As a portrait painter, both of groups and individuals, he was an important influence on Frans Hals. Amsterdam's  Frans Hals Museum was proud to produce an audio tour in Dutch and English covering the majority of the works of Cornelis van Haarlem, ‘the Dutch Michelangelo’, which ran from 29 September 2012 - 20 January 2013.   Today's painting, "Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert" is in simply pristine, museum-quality condition.  The painting appears to be a reprise of another work by Cornelis van Haarlem, now lost and well-known by numerous references, particularly that conserved at the Franz Halls Museum of Haarlem. The works of Cornelis van Haarlem can be found in the world's leading museums and institutions. Among them: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco  Hermitage Museum   J. Paul Getty Museum Louvre Museum, Paris Metropolitan Museum of Art  London National Gallery National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.    National Gallery of Canada Norton Simon Museum Prado Museum  Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford Bob Jones University Museum  Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands National Museum in Warsaw, Poland  Princeton University Art Museum San Diego Museum of Art National Gallery of Denmark) Winnipeg Art Gallery, etc. Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert" has been recently acquired in Paris, France. As shown, verso of the painting still displays remains of ancient red wax gallery seals. Ancient etiquette and inscriptions on verso as shown, referencing dates of 1560 (Van Haarlem's birth) and initials “H. C.”  (Cornelis Haarlem.) Please write with any additional questions and/or comments regarding "Portrait of Dirck Volckertsz."


  • Artist
    Cornelis van Haarlem (1562 - 1638, Dutch)
  • Creation year
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Condition
  • Dimensions

    H 21 in. x W 16.5 in.

    H 53.34 cm x W 41.91 cm

  • Gallery location
    Arles, FR
  • Reference number
  • Seller reference number
    # 0006

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